MIKE O'HARA

O'HARA'S FINAL THOUGHTS: With Reggie Bush out, Joique Bell gets first NFL start

Posted Sep 22, 2013

With Bush out for Washington, the Reggie Bush Watch is on for next week’s home game against the Chicago Bears

LANDOVER, Md.– Final thoughts awaiting kickoff for Sunday’s Lions-Washington game at FedExField:

Notable quote: Reggie Bush, speaking last Thursday on whether his injured knee would heal enough for him to play against Washington: “Well, it’s a long way to Sunday.”

Wait till next Sunday. With Bush out for Washington, the Reggie Bush Watch is on for next week’s home game against the Chicago Bears.

Next man up: With Bush out, Joique Bell starts his first NFL game. He has been active for 26 games, dating to his rookie season of 2010, for the Eagles, Colts and Lions.

Bell has played all 18 games for the Lions since opening day of last season and has been most effective as a receiver out of the backfield. He has 10 catches for 108 yards and a 10.8-yard average this season.

Last season, Bell had 52 catches for 485 yards and a 9.3-yard average per catch. Among running backs with at least 50 catches, Bell had the second-highest average gain per catch. Only Marcel Reece of the Raiders had a higher average – 9.5 yards on 52 catches.

Think tank: It’s just me wondering, but how would Washington’s defense have reacted with Bush in the game for the Lions’ first offensive series?

Could the defense  have ignored a hard play-action fake on first or second down, thinking Bush was too hurt to be effective? Or a flea-flicker, with a toss back from Bush to Matthew Stafford?

Admittedly, my version of fantasy play-calling doesn’t come with negative consequences.

Leg strength: The Lions’ should have a clear-cut advantage in the punting game. In the first two games, rookie Sam Martin has a gross average of 45.9 yards on 10 punts and a net average of 44.1.

Martin’s net is more than five yards better than the gross average of Washington punter Sav Rocca. Rocca has a gross average of 39.8 and a net of 37.4.

Martin’s net is equal to or better than the gross average of eight of the league’s 31 other punters.