With RB Reggie Bush and OT Jammal Brown both sidelined because of injuries, conventional wisdom might suggest that the Saints' running game was in for a let down against the Houston Texans. Fortunately for the Saints, someone forgot to tell that to RB Mike Bell and OT Jermon Bushrod.
Saturday's 38-14 win over the Texans showcased flashes of what made the Saints' vaunted offense the league's best in '08. New Orleans had 420 yards for the game-247 passing and 172 rushing. Quarter back Drew Brees methodically picked apart Houston, completing 9-of-14 passes for 87 yards. Brees' favorite, target WR Marques Colston had 66 yards on six catches. But even though it was Brees and the usual suspects running up the score board, it was back-ups Bell and Bushrod who did their fare share of the leg work.
Bushrod, despite pregame jitters, filled in just fine for Brown, who was out with an injured groin. Bushrod kept Brees relatively unscathed and opened up big holes for the Saints' running backs the entire game.
But while Bushrod was a pleasant footnote, it was Bell who was the story. On just ten carries Bell shredded the line of scrimmage, ringing up 100 yards rushing, more than double his output in the past two seasons. For his finale, Bell gashed the Texans on a 46 yard scamper for a touchdown. Offensively, the Saints still have questions about their short yardage efficiency. But at six foot 225lbs, if Bell keeps running the ball like he did Saturday, he could very well be the answer.