The Jets welcomed a familiar face into training camp for this morning's practice. Kahlil Bell pulled on the green and white for a second consecutive year, looking to add some additional power to the Jets running game.
Bell has been brought in to fill the void left by the injured John Griffin, who suffered a broken leg during the preseason game at Detroit on Friday. Bell said that he feels "blessed" to be back on the field with the Jets and seems determined to make the most of his encore with the team.
"I felt like when I was here last year, my time was short," Bell said. "I love the coach, I love the team, the environment, the city, so it's just a blessing. I'm thankful and grateful for the opportunity."
When his phone rang this weekend, Bell was not surprised to hear the Jets on the other end. The fifth-year back has been preparing for his training camp invitation this entire offseason, something he proved by looking sharp during his first practice with the team.
"Usually you get a two-to-three-month window before you have to start OTAs, but this is the first year I haven't been a part of a team up to this point," he said. "I just made sure I stayed on top of my workout regimen. I was training for this call, hoping for this call, and when it came I wanted to be able to step in and show what I could do."
Although Kahlil Bell certainly did not look like a guy who had been away from football since March, when the Bears released him, the UCLA product feels he is not quite where he wants to be just yet.
"I feel like I'm still a little rusty," he said. "These guys are three weeks in so I still have to get used to the game speed and continue to pick up this offense."
Bell prefers to play a more physical brand of football, molding himself into more of a between-the-tackles runner than a player who chooses to beat teams with his speed.
"I feel like I'm a downhill runner, not really the elusive type like Joe [McKnight] or Bilal [Powell]," he said. "I think I'm more of a one-cut runner that can be physical like Chris [Ivory]. I'm just going to bring what I can and do whatever they ask me to do."
The 2013 version of Kahlil Bell comes with some upgrades from last year, something he has tried to accomplish consistently since his rookie season with Chicago in 2009.
"When I take to the offseason, I try to work on all of my skills," he said after practice, "running, cutting, speed, power, catching the ball out of the backfield. I feel like I have some of those traits and I feel like I can help. Given the opportunity, I think I can succeed and help this team."
The extra time in the gym may have added a few miles per hour to the 26-year-old. He looked quicker during practice when he participated in team drills and noted his increased speed as the major difference in his game from last season.
"I think I'm faster than I was last year," he said, "but every offseason my goal is to improve overall, not just to be one type of runner. I've just tried to improve on every aspect of the game."