What a great football story in the making. Frank Gore, 37 years young, comes to the Jets knowing their running back situation, but still puts his head down and prepares to play the game he loves the way he always has.
Lo and behold, Le'Veon Bell, "the Situation" ahead of Gore on the depth chart, injures his hamstring in the opener, and now the Gore is "the Man," beginning with the Jets' home opener against none other than the San Francisco 49ers, his team for his first 10 seasons in the NFL.
This has got to be an over-the-top mind-blowing development for Gore ... right?
"I want to win, especially coming off a loss last week," Gore said after Wednesday's practice at the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center. "I want us to look a lot better as an offensive team, and that's doing whatever it takes to win. It could be the 49ers, it could be Seattle, whoever. I just want to get a win."
That's not a pigskin egotist deftly hiding his true emotions. It's totally Franklin Gore. Adam Gase knows, since he was Gore's head coach before, when he was a mere lad of 35 in his 14th season in the NFL.
"I don't know," Gase said earlier Wednesday. "Today when we met, he just seems the same to me. I mean, that's what Frank does. He's like that. He's level."
Gore broke into the Green & White offense on a limited basis this past Sunday, getting 14 offensive snaps. His first carry came 3½ minutes into the game. His second didn't arrive until 3½ minutes into the second half. But by that time, Bell's hamstring that he pulled late in the first half on a pass route was barking. Gore finished the game at RB and led the Jets with a modest 24 yards on 6 carries.
Now with Bell placed on the COVID-19 Injured Reserve list and so sidelined for several weeks, the ball's in Gore's court -- and in his hands. The Jets offense may get rookie La'Mical Perine back from his ankle sprain or it may not. Josh Adams could be called up from the practice squad again, as he was last week. Kalen Ballage, who played with Gore and under Gase on the '18 Dolphins, was just signed as a free agent.
But 15 years after the "immortal" Curtis Martin hung up his pads at age 32 after becoming the oldest back in NFL history to lead the league in rushing yards the year before, Gore is now, like Martin, if perhaps only for the near term, the Jets' bellcow back.
"I know that's a big load, Le'Veon not playing this week and being out for a couple weeks," Gore said. "But even when Le'Veon was here, I was always preparing like I was the guy just because you never know what happens. That's why every day I go out on the practice field and prepare like I do.
"If my number gets called, I want to be ready."
No. 21 has been called for this week's home opener. Is there any doubt Frank Gore will be ready?
See the Best Photos from Wednesday's Practice During Week 2