Notebook: The reason for Bell in the fourth quarter and Johnson's non-practice regimen

Posted Nov 1, 2012

Lions coaches have described Joique Bell as a "finisher," but that's not the reason he's been on the field more than Leshoure at the end of games.

The Lions have gone with running back Joique Bell over starter Mikel Leshoure in a lot of fourth-quarter situations this season.

Lions coaches have described Bell as a "finisher," but that's not the reason he's been on the field more than Leshoure at the end of games.

He's been on the field more because he's a terrific receiver in the two-minute offense and the Lions have been in a lot of those situations early this season trying to come from behind.

"Well, one of the things is Joique's proven to be a real effective receiver out of the backfield since we haven't had Jahvid, in those situations when we're in obvious passing situations," Lions offensive coordinator Scott Linehan said.

"Joique has really come through for us in two-minute and situations where we're getting good matchups on our running backs. And Mikel can do it too, but Joique's been doing a really nice job for us and his role's increased because of it."

Last week's win over the Seahawks was a prime example. The Lions trailed 24-21 in the fourth quarter and needed their two-minute offense to spark them.

During the game-winning 16-play drive at the end of the fourth quarter, Bell had three catches for 24 yards, including a crucial 11-yard reception on 3rd-and-10 that kept the drive alive and allowed the go-ahead touchdown pass from Matthew Stafford to Titus Young three plays later.

"On that last drive we had a couple really critical (third-down conversions), including that last one to Joique Bell," Lions head coach Jim Schwartz said.

On that particular play, Bell had the fresh legs and was able to avoid the linebacker to pick up the first down. Bell is second among all NFC running backs with 227 receiving yards (Darren Sproles, 323).

When the Lions have a led and are looking to milk the clock with a four-minute running back (hopefully this week at Jacksonville), Leshoure is likely be the guy -- though Bell can play that role, too, if needed.

"We're a team," Leshoure said after practice Thursday. "We're unselfish guys and whenever our number is called we go with the flow."

"Coaches have their reasons for doing what they do but at the end of the day we're a team, especially in that running back room. We're unselfish and we want everyone to do well and whoever is out there we're cheering them on."

Receiver Calvin Johnson has been banged up for most of the season and is currently battling a knee injury that's kept him off the practice field. Johnson has yet to practice this week, but says that's just part of the regimen to get him ready for Sunday.

"That's the main thing, just being ready for Sunday," he said Thursday. "I have to be out there to help these guys out."

Johnson has missed a lot of practice time this season, but he's played in all seven games with 41 receptions for 638 yards and a touchdown. No player is 100 percent healthy at this point in the season, and Johnson said he and the trainers have been making progress on it.

He's been limited to just six catches and 80 yards over in his last two games.

"Yeah, of course you notice it because it's a little different then normal," he said when asked if the injury has been slowing him down recently. "But, like I said, just using this time to be as right as it can be."