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Versatile Bilal Powell Is Back in Action

Posted Aug 12, 2014

Returns to Practice from Hamstring Injury, Is Eager to See How 3-Headed RB 'Unfolds'

It's great to see Bilal Powell back in the offensive backfield for the training camp practices Sunday and today. Among other reasons, that's because of Powell's understated yet valuable contributions to the offense.

"I just put my hardhat on every day and come to work," he told my partner, Eric Allen, for an interview that will be available soon on newyorkjets.com. "I just try to go out there and be the best I can be to help this team and get the respect from my teammates."

There should be plenty of respect for the softspoken young man from Louisville. Even though Chris Ivory was a human highlight video over the second half of last season, even though Chris Johnson was one of the steals of the NFL offseason, it was Powell who led the Jets in some key offensive metrics, such as yards from scrimmage (969) and first downs (48). BP also showed his versatility with three 30-yard plays — one rushing, one receiving and one passing.

That versatility is part of the reason that Rex Ryan decided to list his top three running backs as an entry (1A—Ivory, 1B—Johnson, 1C—Powell) and that the head coach and OC Marty Mornhinweg are planning a running-back-by-committee plan for the ground game.

"I definitely think it's going to be the committee approach," Ryan said recently. "These are three guys that are capable of being starters themselves, so I think we'll play all of them."

Powell, practicing with a wrap around his sore hamstring, seems genuinely intrigued by this three-headed scheme.

"Yeah, with the addition of CJ, you've got a guy that has some years under his belt and some respect around the league. I think he's added to the explosion that we have in the backfield," Bilal said. "We look forward to seeing how this thing unfolds."

Not too many teams in the last five seasons have wound up with three ballcarriers at 100 carries apiece. The most successful was Carolina last year, a 12-4 playoff team, but maybe the Panthers need an asterisk because one of those three backs was QB Cam Newton.

And the Jets have had three 100-carry players only three times before, in 1979 (when GM John Idzik's father was the coordinator), 1988 (when another Vick was on the team) and 2006:

All three of those teams were .500 or better. But this year's Jets RB triumvirate, if it amasses those three 100-carry men, has the potential to be the best of the lot. And if we extend the parameter to 150 or more offensive touches, Powell would have the ability and the opportunity to excel on third down.

I asked Bilal if he yet knows if there are a lot of third-down plays in his future. "That's something I don't know yet, " he said. "I just know whenever my number's called, I just try to go out and show up."

Powell has done more than show up. When No. 29 is called, key offensive plays often follow. 


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