The Bears added some running back depth today by signing veteran Joique Bell. Bear fans should be familiar with Bell from his time on the Detroit Lions from 2012-2015. The Bears were thin at the running back position after a hamstring injury for KaDeem Carey in week two and a sprained ankle for Jemery Langford during Sunday’s loss to the Cowboys.
Coming into Tuesday the Bears were down to just promising rookie Jordan Howard and 2nd year back Raheem Mostert, an undrafted free agent out of Purdue. Howard has just a little experience with 12 carries over his first two NFL games and Mostert has even less with zero NFL carries despite appearing in 12 games for four different teams (MIA, BAL, CLE, CHI). Mostert’s playing time has been primarily on special teams and he’s only been with the Bears for two weeks, so not much should be expected from him at running back.
The Bears needed to add depth at the position and a veteran like Bell should be able to get acclimated quickly. He will need to since the rookie Howard is the only healthy running back on the roster who has been with the team long enough to know the full playbook.
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Bell is only two years removed from an 860 yard, seven touchdown season with the Lions in 2014. He had a solid stretch as part of the Lions running back committee from 2013-2014 with 1,500 rushing yards, 869 receiving yards, and 16 touchdowns over that two years stretch.
A knee injury limited Bell to just five starts last season and sapped his speed enough that he only averaged3.5 yards per carry, down from his career average of 4.0. When healthy, Bell has been a productive NFL back appearing in 65 games with 15 starts over his six-year career.
He was released by the Lions back in February, but brought back in for a workout last week. The Lions decided to go in another direction, despite the potential season-ending injury to starting RB Ameer Abdullah.
Bears GM Ryan Pace does have some history with Bell from a brief stint with the Saints back in 2011 when Pace worked in the personnel department. Bell should provide the Bears with a veteran presence at least and some security should the Bears injury plague take down Howard as well.
Ideally, Howard will run away with the running back job and Bell won’t be needed much, but the Bears needed to bring in some insurance at the position and Bell could be a valuable signing if he can regain his 2013-2104 form.