|ESPN.com: NFL||[Print without images]|
LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- Originally signed by the Minnesota Vikings as an undrafted free agent, Chicago Bears running back Kahlil Bell still has hard feelings toward the team that cut him in August 2009.
"Personally, I really don't like Minnesota," Bell said Monday. "I was there for a short stint. It won't take much for me to get motivated for this game."
Bell spent more than three months with the Vikings before eventually landing on the Bears practice squad in September 2009. Later that season the running back was promoted to the active roster -- where he's been ever since. With Matt Forte and Marion Barber out Christmas night due to injuries, Bell ran for a career-high 121 yards on 23 carries in the 35-21 loss to the Green Bay Packers.
The Bears and Vikings square off on New Year's Day to wrap up the season.
"Nobody likes to sit there and say they feel good about the team that let them go," Bell said. "They obviously felt I wasn't adequate enough to be a part of their organization, which is in my mind a blessing because I love it here in Chicago and I love being with the Bears. At the same time, hopefully I can make some plays and show them otherwise."
The third-year tailback has made the most of his increased playing time the past few weeks. He figures to be back with the Bears -- Bell is scheduled to be a restricted free agent -- in a more prominent role for next season.
Bears coach Lovie Smith sounded open to the idea of Bell being the No. 2 running back next season behind Forte, who is still looking for a contract extension.
"Based on what he's done his entire time here, you would feel comfortable (with Bell serving as the second tailback)," Smith said. "You know, with a lot of players you wonder, can they do it? You may be in the backup role but never played. But when you see a player in a backup role and he performs that way, you have to be excited about his future."
Bell, on the other hand, appears to be aiming higher than a reserve role, although the odds of unseating Forte -- barring a holdout or trade -- are probably remote at best.
"I'm not interested in (being the No. 2)," Bell said. "I never woke up in the morning and said I'm going out here to work to be the No. 2 running back for any team I've ever been on. My goal is to be a starter in this league and that's what I'm shooting for. I'm not settling for anything else but that."Jeff Dickerson covers the Bears for ESPN 1000 and ESPNChicago.com.