The New York Jets kicked off mandatory minicamp Tuesday, and the main event was the arrival of star running back Le’Veon Bell.
After sitting out the entire 2018 season over a contract dispute with the Pittsburgh Steelers, Le’Veon Bell finally hit the practice field for the first time in over a year, donning the Gang Green for the first time in on-field action.
One of this year’s biggest prizes on the free agent market, Bell was obviously excited to get back to football (via Jets contributor Randy Lange):
It felt so GOOOD. I’m excited. I’m out there for my first practice in over a year. It was amazing to just run around, trash-talk, catch some balls and just sweat in your helmet. Things that you kind of take for granted when you’re playing. But the fact that I had the whole year off and came out here and played football again, it felt so good.
Arguably the most versatile, dynamic running back in the entire NFL, Bell figures to be the focus point of the Jets offense under new head coach Adam Gase. With great talent comes great responsibility, but that’s a role Bell relishes:
Gradually, over the course of four or five years, guys were looking at me, but it was different. We had Ben [Roethlisberger], we had AB [Antonio Brown]. Today I noticed guys are really watching me, which is a good thing. I love the fact that guys are leaning on me, counting on me. That’s why I’m trying to let nobody down.
Bell’s prowess as both a runner and receiver should be put to good use by Gase’s aggressive scheme, giving the former Steeler plenty of opportunities to prove himself worthy of every penny of his massive contract.
He gives the Jets yet another dangerous weapon on offense, joining second-year quarterback Sam Darnold and a promising young unit. Pass-catchers like Robby Anderson, Quincy Enunwa and Jamison Crowder should give Bell plenty of room to work, both on the ground and through the air.