The last time Jets running back Le'Veon Bell suited up in the regular season, he totaled 1,946 scrimmage yards and 11 touchdowns. After not playing last year, the expectations for Bell's return to the field have escalated and he feels more ready than ever.
"I want to go out there and be my best self. I've been working over the course of the year for this moment," said the sixth-year veteran, who spent most of the spring training in Florida. "I know a lot of people are excited to see me and have a high ceiling for me. I have a high ceiling for myself. Everything that people are expecting from me, I want to be able to do that plus more. A lot of people expect a lot from me and I expect more from myself.
"I think as long as I stay on this course and continue to do things the right way, I'll be ready to give everybody what they want to see."
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For the 6'1", 225-pounder to be fully effective, he and the offensive line have to be on the same page. But Bell and his blockers could have a longer adjustment period because of the back's unique, patient running style.
"It's just going to take practice," Bell said. "Over the course of a season, we're going to find plays that I like, that the O-line likes running and we're going to gel them together. Right now, it's early, so we're throwing in a lot of run plays, but as the season goes on, there will be certain runs we'll stick to and we're going naturally get good at it. We're going to have our chemistry going and that's what I look forward to. Right now, we're going out there and playing football and having fun."
Even though Bell is one the NFL's premiere playmakers, he recognizes he's only one piece to the puzzle. The dual threat is excited about his quarterback, Sam Darnold, particularly the 22-year-old's mobility, and believes the offense has the potential to flourish. But in order to turn that potential into a reality, Bell plans to place more of a leadership role on his shoulders than what he's done in the past.
"We have the talent. We just have to find our little niches and find what people are good at, and maybe what they're not good at, so we stay away from things like that," he said. "But I can think this offense can be very exciting. We have a lot of playmakers, so a lot of it is going to come from me being a leader and things like that, kind of showing guys the ropes. I'm looking forward to taking that role and I'm excited."