Bell Gives Hanie a Ringing Endorsement..................
Bell gives Hanie a ringing endorsement
By Vaughn McClure, Tribune reporter 4:08 p.m. CST, November 21, 2011
Running back Kahlil Bell had no inkling about Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler's broken right thumb until he heard about it while watching NBC's "Sunday Night Football" broadcast.
"That (stinks)," Bell said. "Of course I feel bad for him. He's been having a hell of a year. He was really playing with a lot of confidence, and we've been playing with a lot of confidence. We still have to find a way to make plays, but this definitely (stinks)."
Cutler is expected to be sidelined six to eight weeks after undergoing surgery. With backup Caleb Hanie moving into the starting role, the Bears are certain to rely more on the running game to ease Hanie's transition.
Bell could be a part of the equation along with starter Matt Forte and bruiser Marion Barber. The Bears don't want to overload Forte just to compensate for the loss of Cutler.
Forte has 926 yards on 186 carries with three touchdowns. Barber has 52 carries for 174 yards and five touchdowns as the short-yardage specialist. Bell has just 23 yards on 11 carries in limited duty.
The Bears stand 14th in the league in rushing offense at 116.9 yards per game.
"I think our run game has been pretty much solid the whole season," Bell said. "I think teams are gearing up to stop the run, which had helped Jay because the offense was so balanced. Now that he's gone, the run game definitely has to be better than above average.
"Caleb is a capable quarterback. I believe that with my heart. But just stepping in there during the middle of the season is going to be tough. We have to do what we have to do to make sure we don't miss a beat. And I don't think we will."
Bell spent plenty of time with Hanie when the offensive skill players worked out at Carmel High School during the NFL lockout.
"Just the nature of the quarterback position, they meet more than anybody and watch more film than anybody," Bell said. "Caleb's been doing that since I've been here. I think he's ready, man. I think he's going to do well."
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