Broncos turn to former running back Tatum Bell
ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) ” Maybe a blast from the past can help the Denver Broncos’ current conundrum in their battered backfield.
Down to rookie fullback Peyton Hillis as their primary ballcarrier following injuries to all four of their tailbacks, the Broncos signed free agent Tatum Bell on Tuesday, bringing back a player they drafted in the second round out of Oklahoma State in 2004.
Bell was traded to Detroit in 2007 as part of the deal that brought cornerback Dre’ Bly to Denver and he played for the Lions last season before being released March 2.
Bell knows the Broncos’ blocking scheme and terminology, but he and Alex Haynes, a versatile free agent who signed Monday, will take some time to get up to speed.
That leaves the Broncos with Hillis as their starter followed by P.J. Pope, who was elevated from the practice squad last week, Bell and Haynes.
Haynes also is the backup to fullback Spencer Larsen, a rookie who was converted from linebacker.
Bell is by far the most accomplished of the running backs left in the Broncos’ backfield, having rushed 525 times for 2,524 yards (a 4.8-yard average) and 14 touchdowns in his career. He also has 61 receptions for 362 yards.
His 4.9-yard average during his three seasons in Denver represents the second-best career mark in club history among players with at least 250 carries.
During his final season in Denver, Bell started 13 games and rushed for 1,025 yards ” he’s the last Broncos tailback to top 1,000 yards. He started five games for the Lions last year, rushing 44 times for 182 yards and one TD and catching 14 passes for 63 yards.
To make room for Bell, the Broncos waived wide receiver/returner Glenn Martinez, who filled in nicely while rookie Eddie Royal recovered from a sprained ankle last month.
The Broncos have lost three tailbacks in the last two weeks. Michael Pittman (spinal cord), Andre Hall (hand) and rookie Ryan Torain (knee) all have gone on injured reserve, and second-year pro Selvin Young has had just one carry since suffering a groin tear on Oct. 5, an injury he aggravated last week.