Eagles answer the Bell

The void is filled.

The Eagles took care of their biggest need yesterday by inking free-agent Demetress Bell to a five-year contract. The 27-year-old will take over the starting spot at left tackle vacated last week by Jason Peters, who is out for the season after rupturing his Achilles tendon.

The Eagles also made a note that Bell’s first name is Demetress. It had been previously spelled as Demetrius.

“Demetress was one of the top free-agent offensive linemen available this year, and we are happy to be able to add him to our squad,” coach Andy Reid said. “We had a chance to meet him over the weekend and study him extensively on tape, and we came away quite impressed with what we saw and heard. He’s a great athlete.”

Bell started six games for the Bills last season as he dealt with a nagging shoulder injury. In 2010, he started all 16 games. In an ironic twist, he took over the starting job in Buffalo after Peters bolted for the Eagles.

“Demetress is a guy we’ve followed since he joined the league,” Eagles GM Howie Roseman said in a statement. “He’s a big, athletic left tackle and he has quite a few games of experience under his belt with Buffalo. He’ll excel with our style of play on the offensive line.”

Family ties

Bell is the estranged son of former NBA star Karl Malone, but they don’t share a normal father-son relationship. Malone has never acknowledged Bell publicly.

“I treat it as if my mother went to the sperm bank,” Bell told ESPN in 2008. “I don’t hate him for [not being in my life]. It made me a better person.”

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