Much had been said over the previous five months about Le'Veon Bell being a budding rap performer and entrepreneur, and his musical nature definitely came out here and there as he swayed and riffed with Jets reporters and fans after practices.
But Wednesday there was a little more urgency to Bell's body movements and his words following Wednesday's workout and with Sunday's season opener against the Buffalo Bills ahead.
"I can't even explain it, bro," he said at the top of his nine-minute rap with Jets reporters in the locker room. "It's been a long time since I played football. A lot of people are excited to watch me play. Just quadruple that. That's how excited I am to play.
"Talk about the long wait ... I'm ready."
Since Bell didn't play a down or a rep in any of the Jets' four preseason games, some still wonder how many touches he'll get and how he'll look out of the gate.
"We'll see how the game goes," head coach Adam Gase said. "I can't predict how many plays we're going to have. But I will say this: When I spoke to him yesterday, he said, 'Don't hold back.' So he feels like he's ready to go and I think he's pretty excited to get out there."
Bell explained what "Don't hold back" meant to him.
"When I tell him that, I mean don't hold back and try to worry about my touches and how many plays I'm playing, 'cause I'm ready," he said. "I've been working hard in practice. I made sure they gave me the reps in practice so I can get as close to game-ready as I can. Nobody in the preseason has played a full game, so it's going to be interesting to see how I feel, how everybody else feels. And I'm going to go out there and make sure we win the game."
It's hard to gauge what we'll see from Bell based on his history. He averaged almost 25 touches/game and 129.0 scrimmage yards/game in his five Pittsburgh seasons, which calculates to ironman-like totals of 398 touches and 2,063 YFS in a 16-game season.
Yet he played in only two season openers with Pittsburgh, gaining 197 YFS vs. Cleveland in 2014 and — after sitting out the preseason — doing a slow grind for 47 YFS at the Browns in 2017. The Steelers won both. Then there was the last time he touched the football in anger, in the AFC Divisional Round in early '18. He racked up 155 yards and two touchdowns but the Steelers lost a home shootout to the Jaguars, 45-42.
Factor in the Buffalo defense, which, led by tackling machine LB Tremaine Edmunds, veteran DE Jerry Hughes and S Jordan Poyer, finished second last season in overall yards allowed/game, third in passing yards allowed/game and eighth in third-down D.
But Bell, while praising the Bills, shrugged off any Pittsburgh comparisons
"Of course a lot of people haven't seen me play in a while. It's kind of human nature, forgetting things like that," he said. "I'm not talking those people wrong, I'm not talking the Steelers wrong. ... But I'm done talking about the Steelers. I'm worried about the Bills and I'm worried about the Jets. That's all that matters to me now."
See Best Images from Wednesday's Practice at 1 Jets Drive
"I think he's just excited to get out there," Gase said. "I think he kind of got a taste of it when we had that [Aug. 25] stadium practice where you could see that he was pretty juiced up. He has a good look about him right now. He looks like he's excited to get to a gameday."
Now that first gameday in green is less than four days away. And the man who sometimes bills himself as "Juice" in the studio is set to flow again on the field.
"I would say this game is definitely in the top five," Bell said of anticipated games in his career. "I'm talking about playoff games, my first game as a rookie, things like that. It's up there with that, because I'm with a new team in a new city. I sat out football for 20 months.
"So it's going to be fun."