ALLEN PARK, Mich. (AP) -Tatum Bell walked off the practice field, wearing a Honolulu blue jersey and holding a silver helmet, something the running back didn't expect to be doing this season.
``I would've bet everything I had that I wouldn't be a Detroit Lion this year,'' Bell said Thursday after the opening day of training camp. ``I know for a fact if Mike Martz was here, I wouldn't be here.''
The Lions and Martz parted ways during the offseason, and the pass-happy offensive coordinator was hired by the San Francisco 49ers.
After running for nearly 2,000 yards and scoring 10 times over two seasons in Denver, Bell had a solid Detroit debut last season under Martz with 87 yards rushing and a touchdown in a win over the Oakland Raiders.
He started the next four games before being benched for the rest of the season, losing his job and carries to Kevin Jones and T.J. Duckett, both of whom are ex-Lions. Jones was cut and signed by the Chicago Bears and Duckett wasn't re-signed and landed with the Seattle Seahawks.
``Martz was the only person that had a problem with me. He never told me why I wasn't playing and that's the only thing that bothers me to this day,'' Bell said. ``In training camp before KJ got back, I was his guy. When KJ got back, I went from starter to scout team.''
As bitter as Bell was and still is, he kept relatively quiet last season and that ended up helping him sign a one-year deal in March to return to the Lions.
``I really respected how he handled last year and what he went through,'' Detroit coach Rod Marinelli said. ``He was a pro all the way.
``This system that we're in right now is what he was used to in Denver. I think he's got a great opportunity. He's in tremendous shape. He's lean and he's fast. We're counting on him.''
Bell said persistent calls from offensive coordinator Jim Colletto, assistant head coach Kippy Brown and running backs coach Sam Gash persuaded him to return.
``They kept calling me saying 'We want you back. Martz is gone. We're going to run the zone scheme you ran in Denver,''' Bell recalled. ``At first, it was going in one ear and out the other. But then I started listening, and I got excited.''
Bell will likely be the No. 1 running back when the season begins Sept. 7 in Atlanta, but he might have to hold off rookie Kevin Smith to keep it the rest of the season.
The third-round pick ran for 2,567 yards last year - just 62 short of breaking Barry Sanders' NCAA record - and scored 30 times.
``It's a good feeling being a part of a team that wants to run the zone and run it to death like I did at UCF,'' Smith said. ``I'm not going to forget about how to run the football. It might be a lot tougher, but I'm going to run it until the wheels fall off.''
Lions quarterback Jon Kitna knows he will be handing the ball off much more than he did in the previous two seasons under Martz, but he's looking forward to directing a run-first offense.
``It's a great philosophy to have,'' he said. ``I think Coach Martz kind of gets a bum rap that way, but we're going to have more emphasis on it and we're going to be more committed to it. I'm excited to see how it plays out. I think it'll help everybody.''

Recent NFL Discussions

Betting the 2017 NFL Draft on Tue, Apr 2017 by Blade
NFL Draft Preview on Tue, Apr 2017 by Blade
2017 Heisman Odds on Wed, Mar 2017 by Blade
College / NBA today on Sun, Mar 2017 by TtomBoBadly
SNOW on Tue, Mar 2017 by Michael Cash

Top NFL Public Bets

NFL Top Stories

Thumbnail Alabama NFL Draft Odds The Alabama Crimson Tide could have a lot of players taken in the first round of the NFL Draft next week. How many...
Thumbnail Odds Theory & Fantasy: Perfect Combo In America alone over 110 million people settled down to watch February’s Super Bowl and were rewarded by a game which saw many twists and turns along the way. Of...
Thumbnail Romo moving to CBS After a lot of discussion about where Tony Romo will be next season, it appears that he will be behind a broadcast booth.
Thumbnail Patriots remain SB52 Favorites With NFL free agency slowing down dramatically over the past week, here's a look at the most recent Super Bowl 52 odds to win.
Thumbnail The Next Atlanta Falcons Despite suffering one of the greatest collapses in sports history at Super Bowl LI, the Atlanta Falcons still managed to overcome significant odds to reach the NFL’s...

NFL Team Pages