Bradley Handwerger / WWLTV.com Sports Reporter
METAIRIE, La. – The Saints have released running back Joique Bell to make room for defensive end Will Smith on their 53-man roster, the team announced Wednesday afternoon.
Smith was suspended for the first two games of the season after violating the league’s banned substance policy in 2008.
He returns as the team’s top defensive end and is fourth on the Saints’ all-time sack list with 55. A season ago, he finished with 70 tackles and 5½ sacks.
As for Bell, Saints coach Sean Payton said if the running back clears waivers, the coach feels the tailback will return on the practice squad.
“You’re never certain,” Payton said. “He has got to clear waivers. If he’s able to, I do feel like we’ll get him back if he clears waivers.”
Bell made the roster after leading New Orleans in the preseason in the backfield, tallying 182 yards and a touchdown on 31 carries. His 5.9 yard-per-carry average was more than a yard better than the next-best running back with more than 13 touches.
The decision to cut Bell came down to a numbers game; Payton said carrying two kickers eats up a spot that’s normally open.
“We also know we’ve got three and a half, four weeks with Chris Ivory,” Payton said. “There’s no perfect decision. I think it was just paying close attention to the roster and making that decision now.”