Le'Veon Bell simply couldn't control himself. Well, mostly his mouth.
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) — Le’Veon Bell simply couldn’t control himself. Well, mostly his mouth.
The New York Jets running back was back on a practice field for the first time in 17 months and was downright giddy. And, he let his new teammates on defense know all about it.
“It was amazing,” a grinning Bell said Tuesday after the Jets began their three-day minicamp. “Just running around and just being able to trash talk and catch some balls and just sweat in your helmet — you know, things that we kind of take for granted when you’re playing.
“The fact I had that whole year off and came out here and played football again, it felt so good.”
Bell, who sat out voluntary workouts this offseason, was limited in his first full practice with the Jets. But, he was plenty involved with ratcheting up the overall energy on the field — talking smack with defensive players throughout.
“You’ve got a loudmouth on defense,” a smiling left tackle Kelvin Beachum said, referring to always-chatty safety Jamal Adams. “And, now, we’ve got a loudmouth on offense.
“It’ll be fun.”
Bell signed a four-year, $52.5 million deal — including $35 million guaranteed — with the Jets in March after sitting out all last season with Pittsburgh in a contract dispute.
The 27-year-old running back has been around his teammates sporadically throughout the offseason, but chose to work out on his own with a personal trainer in Florida rather than participate in the team’s voluntary workouts.
So, his arrival Tuesday made for a playoff-sized gathering of media finally getting a glimpse of Bell in uniform and taking handoffs from Sam Darnold.
“When he’s out there, when he’s in the huddle, a defensive coordinator doesn’t know where he’s going to line up, doesn’t know what’s coming his way,” Darnold said. “With Le’Veon out there, we definitely become a little bit more unpredictable.”
Bell has rushed for 5,336 yards and 35 touchdowns, and has 312 catches for 2,660 yards and seven scores in his NFL career. Using a deliberate running style that throws off defenders, his 128.9 yards from scrimmage per game over his career is the best mark in the NFL since the 1970 merger.
But, after missing a full season, there are some who wonder if Bell will still be the same versatile and dynamic force he had been as one of the best running backs in the league.
“Maybe people forget a little bit just because they haven’t seen it in a long time,” he said. “It’s normal. That’s what humans do. But I feel like once I go out here, I play, first game coming up, people will be reminded.
“Right now is not the time.”