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Notebook: Bell Looks To Get Up To Speed

It is hard enough for a player to join a team in Week 12, even more so when you are coming in during a short week, but that is exactly the challenge that newly signed cornerback Josh Bell will face this week leading up to Thursday’s game at Detroit. - More Mike McCarthy Press Conference Transcript - Nov. 24 | Packers Sign CB Bell

It is hard enough for a player to join a team in Week 12, even more so when it happens during a short week, but that is exactly the challenge that newly signed cornerback Josh Bell will face this week leading up to Thursday's game at Detroit.

Bell, who signed with the Packers on Tuesday, practiced with the team on Tuesday and is "definitely an option to play" at Detroit according to Head Coach Mike McCarthy.

With Green Bay losing veteran cornerback Al Harris to a season-ending knee injury Sunday against San Francisco, nickel back Tramon Williams is expected to move up and take Harris' place in the starting lineup opposite Charles Woodson. After Harris left the game, dime back Jarrett Bush moved into the nickel role with rookie Brandon Underwood taking his first defensive snaps of the season as the dime back.

The Packers have had five cornerbacks on the 45-man roster in all 10 games this year, so if Bell is active in case of injury or to play on special teams, he said he is confident he can get prepared on short notice.

"I feel real confident," Bell said. "I've got 24 hours in today. If you can't learn about 20 pages of a playbook in 24 hours, you've got to catch up, you've got to catch on. I think learning it is the easy part, but being able to apply it out on the field will be the hardest part.

"Really it's just getting terminology and learning the checks, because it's easy to line up and say, 'We're going to have this coverage today; it's Cover-3 and this is the word we use for Cover-3.' But when you get out and you have to adjust to motion and a scheme of an offense, that's where you get the other things to catch up on. But I know Coach (Joe) Whitt will get me right. As long as I put the work in, put the time in this week, I can have it down by Thursday."

The 5-foot-11, 177-pound Bell, who entered the league with San Diego last season as a non-drafted free agent out of Baylor before being released at the end of the preseason, played in nine games with the Denver Broncos last season, including five starts in place of an injured Champ Bailey. He registered 43 tackles (36 solo) and four passes defensed in the nine contests.

"I think more than anything, being able to play nine games as a rookie (helped me)," Bell said. "Where I felt maybe I would be on the practice squad all year, I was able to get in and play, start at nickel four games and start five games when Champ was out. So I believe that gives me more confidence than anything."

Bell sustained a knee injury toward the end of the preseason this year, and was released by the team on September 10. He said he was cleared medically about a month ago and had workouts with Atlanta, Cleveland and Minnesota.

Bell has some experience in the 3-4 defense, having played in first-year defensive coordinator Mike Nolan's 3-4 in Denver this preseason, and with San Diego, who also plays a 3-4, during the 2008 preseason.

"You bring a new guy in, it's like learning a foreign language many times," defensive coordinator Dom Capers said. "I think there are some things (that carry over). You always relate it to where you were the last time. 'Well, we did this, but we might have called it something different.'

"It's a process you go through in terms of learning the terminology and learning it well enough to go out and execute, and for us, if we had to put a new guy out there what we could do with him."

Wells sidelined

The Packers are hoping to line up the same way they did on the offensive line last Sunday, but center Scott Wells' availability for Thursday is in question after he missed Tuesday's practice with a knee injury.

Wells, who has started the past eight games at center, sustained the injury during the win over the 49ers. Rookie Evan Dietrich-Smith took all of the reps with the No. 1 offensive line during Tuesday's practice. He also saw time last week with the first unit when Wells missed some practice time due to a concussion suffered against Dallas.

"The kid has gotten better and he has gotten a lot of work lately, a lot of work," offensive coordinator Joe Philbin said. "He has shown improvement. He has shown a pretty good grasp of the system.

"He has got his feet wet a little bit. I don't know if he has jumped into the pool yet, but he has got his feet wet anyway."

Dietrich-Smith was the lone non-drafted rookie free agent to make the Packers' 53-man roster coming out of training camp, and has seen time primarily on special teams in seven games played. He did play left guard during the second quarter against Dallas when Daryn Colledge briefly left the game with an ankle injury.

"(Dietrich-Smith's) a talented guy," quarterback Aaron Rodgers said. "It's impressive to watch him and the way he is playing. He has got a good attitude about him.

"I think he's got a little dirtbag to him, which you need as an offensive lineman, not to mention he's got a real scruffy beard, which helps him out as far as toughness factor. But we're very confident with him and he's a smart guy."

Some experience

Thursday's game at Detroit will be the second time the Packers have traveled to play the Lions on Thanksgiving in the last three seasons, but McCarthy has some experience playing on the holiday from one of his previous coaching stops.

{sportsad300}When McCarthy was on Kansas City's coaching staff as the quarterbacks coach, the Chiefs played on Thanksgiving in back-to-back seasons. In 1995, Kansas City played at Dallas and then traveled to Detroit the next season on Thanksgiving.

"This is a tough football game to play in," McCarthy said. "Let's make no mistake about it. I was just talking to Nick Barnett about it before practice. Anytime that you come into this Thanksgiving game, you're the visitor.

"This is a playoff-type atmosphere. It's a national TV game. Everybody is watching it, so this will be a tough, hard-fought game. It always is. Every one that I have been a part of was always a tough, physical football game. That's what we're preparing to do as we get ready for Detroit."

Injury/participation update

Wells, tackle/guard Allen Barbre (ankle) and running back Ahman Green (groin) did not participate in Tuesday's practice.

Woodson (hip) and tackle Chad Clifton (knee) were limited participants.

Linebacker Brandon Chillar (hand), running back Ryan Grant (neck), defensive ends Cullen Jenkins (ankle) and Johnny Jolly (back), fullback John Kuhn (hand) and guard Josh Sitton (back) all participated fully.

For Detroit, quarterback Matthew Stafford (knee and left shoulder) did not participate. Stafford injured his non-throwing shoulder at the end of the Lions' last-second 38-37 win over Cleveland on Sunday.

"Probably too early to tell," Lions head coach Jim Schwartz said. "It's unlikely that he's going to play; I said that yesterday, but we'll see. If it's a deal that it gets better in a couple of days and it's not as painful, then he'll be able to get out there."

Wide receiver Calvin Johnson (hand and knee), the team's leading receiver who was sidelined for the Week 6 game at Green Bay, did not participate.

Defensive tackles Joe Cohen (ankle) and Grady Jackson (knee), safeties Louis Delmas (ankle), Kalvin Pearson (hamstring) and Ko Simpson (knee), linebackers Jordon Dizon (neck), Zack Follett (neck) and Ernie Sims (hamstring), tackle Daniel Loper (back), running back Kevin Smith (hip) and defensive end Dewayne White (toe) were all limited participants.

Wide receiver Derrick Williams (hip) was taken off the injury report on Tuesday.

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