It’s hard to imagine how Le’Veon Bell could be any more enthusiastic about his new home and his new offense.
“You have a mastermind in Adam Gase. He’s unbelievable,” Bell told reporters Thursday. “I literally watch him at practice and the way he calls plays. He’s just very intelligent, he knows how to call plays and put guys in the right situation. It’s really hard to try to stop all the options he has open.”
While praising Gase’s mind, Bell said the offensive players will have to be on point with their mental games.
“The thing for us is we have to make sure everybody understands what’s going on. We can’t really mentally break down because there are a lot of plays, a lot of things that go on,” he said. “We have to make sure everybody is on the same page and I think once that happens, the sky’s the limit for this offense. We have a lot of talent on the offense. We have a young quarterback who’s starting to understand the offense even more and it’s scary, so I’m excited.”
The 6’1”, 225-pound Bell, who signed with the Jets in March after not playing last season, was in search of more contact during the club’s morning session. A versatile playmaker, Bell can make people miss in the open field but he also has the power to run through would-be tacklers.
“I think today was really the first day when I was trying to get tackled. I was running a little more game-like today because we had some more short-yardage situations,” he said. “I was thinking instead of thud, I’m just going to try to really give them a little bit more power. If they take me to the ground, I’m fine with it today. I wanted to get some poppin’ a little bit. I’m a little bit eager for it.”
But Bell didn’t see too much contact on a long run in the workout. With the offense by the shadow of its own goal line, Bell took a handoff from Sam Darnold and set up his blocks before exploding up the middle for a huge gain. In a flash, field position would have changed because the Green & White have a game-changer in the offensive backfield.
“Sam did a good job of getting everybody set. We went on a couple of hard counts,” Bell said. “I think the defense got a little relaxed because they thought we were trying to draw them offsides. We ended up running basically a dive play. The O-line and everybody fit up. They didn’t show me any color and didn’t have any penetration. All I did was set up my blocks and just ran to the open hole. Those guys opened up the hole and I just try to make my plays in the open field.”
Left tackle Kelvin Beachum, who blocked for Bell in Pittsburgh in 2013-15, recalled a similar play during a Steelers’ 37-19 win over the Panthers in Week 3 of the 2014 season (2:34 in the linked video). With the Steelers up 16-6 late in the third and facing a third-and-22 at their own 8, Bell went over right guard for 81 yards and a blowout ensued.
“That play that he hit when we were backed up kind of reminded me of a play against Carolina on (Sunday) night football a couple of years ago,” Beachum said of today’s practice scamper. “A very similar concept, it went downhill and went for a lot of yardage.”
“These guys are doing a good job of anytime we get a double team, they are staying on their blocks and Le'Veon does a good job of getting those linebackers to carry the offensive line — that's where his patience is unbelievable,” Gase added. “They seem like they are gelling pretty good.”
See the Top Images from Practice No. 7 at Jets Training Camp
Embracing the process, Bell believes camp will continue to be good testing ground for him and his offensive line.
“It’s just going to take time to find what runs we want and what’s comfortable for us,” said Bell, who ran for 1,291 yards in 2017 and had nine scores on the ground. “I think once we find those base runs and we’re comfortable with them, the run game is going to just gel. We don’t need to have 50 run plays. We can have eight of them and run those eight really good and that’s what we’re fine with.”
After apologizing on social media to fantasy players who picked him in 2018, Bell reiterated that sentiment today before adding that he should be the No. 1 fantasy pick in 2019.
“I feel like anybody can be the No. 1 fantasy guy because we have so much talent,” he said. “I’m just excited and I just want to go out here and play football.”