Steven Miller looks at Joique Bell's journey to NFL as motivation

Posted Nov 21, 2013

Steven Miller - in his third stint with the Lions practice squad - is taking a similar path early in his career as Joique Bell

Steven MillerSteven Miller during the Lions' final preseason game. (Photo: G. Smith/Detroit Lions)

Steven Miller was without a team this time last week.

The Lions released the undrafted rookie running back Nov. 5 to make room on the roster for Montell Owens, who was coming off short-term injured reserve at the time.

It was the second time this season Miller had been released to make room for another player.

Welcome to the business that is the NFL.

Miller is in his third stint on the team's practice squad after he was signed back earlier this week after releasing tight end Martell Webb.

"I embrace it," said Miller, who the team originally signed as an undrafted running back out of Appalachian State. "I take it as a good thing. At least they want me to come back.

"I just feel there's something that I need to do better and something more to up my game. I have to stay positive."

Last week, when Miller was without a team, he was still invited by the Lions running backs to dinner at Reggie Bush's house. Miller has stuck around Detroit after every release, continuing to work out and stay ready.

It there's one player who knows exactly what Miller is going through it's fellow running back Joique Bell.

Bell started his career on practice squads with the Buffalo Bills, Philadelphia Eagles and New Orleans Saints before getting an opportunity with the Detroit Lions in December of 2011.

"You get into a situation like that and a point where you might think that you're not good enough," Bell said. "It's not that. It's a numbers game. That's one thing I've been telling him. He's one of the hardest workers I've seen and he reminds me a lot of myself."

It's advice Miller has taken to heart.

"He had to go through the same thing and he told me it was much better once you got your opportunity," Miller said.

"It's making me into a man. The first time it was kind of hard for me and the second time I was kind of confused, but it's the business. I'm starting to understand the business."

It's the same kind of frustration Bell encountered after taking the same route to the league. He, too, was an undrafted running back out of a small school who had to prove himself all over again.

"I know he can play in this league," Bell said of Miller. "You're coming from a place in college where you might have been 'the guy' and you played a lot. The one thing when you get to this league is you have to check your ego because everyone was 'the man' back in college.

"You just have to wait your turn. That's something I didn't understand when I came to the NFL, but I learned quick."

Bell did learn, and it paid off, as he's now become an key part of the Lions high-potent offense with 670 total yards and five touchdowns.

"He wants to be around, he loves the game and that's the kind of teammate we want to be around," Bell said of Miller.  "He's a guy that all he wants is an opportunity and once he gets it he's never going to look back.”