With Jones out, Bell takes center stage

It didn't take long for the running back controversy in Detroit to begin brewing. With incumbent starter Kevin Jones residing on PUP as he recovers from a Lisfranc injury suffered last season, off-season acquisitions Tatum Bell carried the load with the first-team on Thursday.

It didn't take long for the running back controversy in Detroit to begin brewing.

With incumbent starter Kevin Jones residing on PUP as he recovers from a Lisfranc injury suffered last season, off-season acquisitions Tatum Bell and T.J. Duckett shared repetitions throughout the first day of training camp on Thursday -- with Bell carrying the load for the first team.

Picked up in the trade that saw the extradition of cornerback Dre' Bly to the Denver Broncos, Bell's quickness and speed was apparent. And while the job certainly won't be determined until Jones is given a fair shake, it was evident that Bell was attempting to make a case for himself.

"It's a lot of what we saw in our OTAs and everything," said head coach Rod Marinelli. "His speed -- he's a veteran player that's been very productive in this league -- and he's got great speed. He's bright. We've acquired some really good backs, we feel good about them."

Bell's explosiveness made him an easy target to both the spectators and media onhand during opening day. Without the presence of rookie first-round pick Calvin Johnson, who remains unsigned, Bell's high-energy style turned both cameras and interest during the day.

"We've got a lot of guys like that, but he's got real juice," added Marinelli. "Especially in this system, with Mike (Martz), we start spreading people. When he breaks it, with his speed, and all of those guys, when Kevin (Jones) gets back, we've got guys with enough speed to really make a defense pay."

Duckett, meanwhile, wasn't shying away from the competition, either. Duckett looked significantly slimmer versus his earlier days in the league, where he was used occasionally as a full back. He was impressive with Detroit's second-team offense.

"We need to watch our tapes," yielded Marinelli. "Sometimes a guy makes a heck of a play, you say, 'Half the things he did were wrong.' So you just have got to make the day-by-day details."

"Yeah. Boy he looks good, he's lean and he's being in shape. He looks like he's in very good condition. Most of this team is."

Besides the temporary loss of Jones, Bell and Duckett lost more competition when the team waived veteran running back Shawn Bryson after he failed his physical. Last year's third-round pick Brian Calhoun, a scatback from Wisconsin who sat out most of last season with a knee injury, will join the team on Friday.


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