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While the top two running backs in the Saints' offense are Reggie Bush and Pierre Thomas, New Orleans needs another option when the situation calls for a more basic, punishing, clock-eating approach.
The last time the Saints made the playoffs in 2006, they could count on McAllister to fill that role. But the Saints chose to part ways with their all-time rusher last winter, taking the position -- however unpopular with fans -- that the 30-year-old McAllister's age and history with serious knee injuries were working against him.
That left Bell, 26, and former San Diego State running back Lynell Hamilton, 24, as the top two candidates to fill that void. The Saints also have brought in undrafted rookies P.J. Hill of Wisconsin and Herb Donaldson of Western Illinois for a look.
Bell has stood out most in the preseason, so far, and his strong performance in the Saints' preseason victory over the Texans clearly made an impression on the coaching staff.
"He earned some trust and he proved that he may be able to fill that void that we've been talking about for the last six months," Saints running back coach Bret Ingalls said. "He's shown that he knows how to attack the defense, be a physical guy and not show any sign of fear. ... He was a guy that wasn't playing for a couple years, so now I think he feels this is his opportunity to step up."
Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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