Besides having worked out with backup quarterback Tim Tebow a few times in Los Angeles last year, Kahlil Bell says he didn't know anyone on the Jets' roster prior to this afternoon.
Signed on Tuesday, Bell comes to the Green & White after having spent the past four seasons with the Chicago Bears.
"It's like the first day of school," he said after completing his first practice with his new team. "You don't know what people are going to think of you, you don't know what you're going to think of them. But this isn't the first time I've been on a new team. Just be myself, smile, be happy and let the cards fall where they may."
The 5"11', 219-pound running back played in 22 career games with the Bears, rushing 131 times for 589 yards (4.5 avg.) and catching 21 passes for 148 yards and a touchdown. He played in two games for the Bears this season, registering 12 carries for 32 yards and one reception before being waived Oct. 15.
"Chicago's an amazing city," Bell said. "I still have a lot of friends on that team. My brother still lives there, so I'm going to go back and visit pretty frequently. It didn't work out, but New York's an amazing city, too."
With RBs Bilal Powell and Joe McKnight suffering injuries recently, the Jets hope Bell will bring some positive production. He visited the Houston Texans and Green Bay Packers last week before inking with the Green & White.
"I'd been to a couple workouts," he said, "and I feel like I'm in pretty good shape, so I always felt like I performed well at the workouts. But I just really didn't know. In life, sometimes all you can do is the best that you can do and just let the cards fall where they may. I was going to be at peace with whatever their decision was and I'm just happy that it turned out that they wanted to sign me."
The 25-year-old thinks it's great that he's joined a team that favors the run.
"I know that's one of their focal points is to try and be a dominant run team," Bell said. "Anytime you go to a team that likes to run the ball, it bodes well for you as a running back because obviously that's what we love to do is run the ball."
While it's never an easy adjustment for a player to sign with a new team, it has to be even harder when the transition occurs during the second half of a season. But the Santa Rosa, Calif., native considers himself blessed.
"I don't really look at it like that," he said. "I look at it as an opportunity to prove that I deserve to be in this league and to prove that I can be a part of this franchise and help this franchise succeed."
His first game as a member of the Jets should happen Sunday afternoon in St. Louis. Although he's never faced the Rams at their home, the Edward Jones Dome, he has previously played in a dome, against New Orleans.
"When the whistle blows, everything is the same," Bell said. "I mean, you've got to go out and execute. The team that executes and makes the least amount of mistakes is going to win. They're going to be at home. Their crowd is going to be raucous, but we've just got to stick to the script."
There was a lot of waiting, hoping and praying during the past month for Bell. With a 3-6 record, the Jets decided to give him a chance.
And going back to the first-day-of-school comparison he provided, soon we'll be able to determine two important things: what Bell thinks of his new team, but more important, what the Jets think of Bell. "I didn't really know much about them. I hadn't really paid attention to them. But that's all changed now," the latest Jet said with a smile.