Jets’ Le’Veon Bell-Adam Gase saga can officially begin
Le’Veon Bell agreed to be a Jet a little after midnight on March 13. Nearly three months later, he will be on the field in a Jets uniform for the first time.
Bell will practice with the Jets for the first time on Tuesday as the team opens its three-day mandatory minicamp. Bell has stayed away for much of the offseason program, including organized team activity practices over the past two weeks.
It will be the first time Bell will be participating in football activities since Jan. 14, 2018, when his Steelers lost to the Jaguars in the playoffs. The 27-year-old running back sat out last season during a contract dispute with Pittsburgh.
There may be some rust for Bell, but Jets nose tackle Steve McLendon, who played three years with Bell in Pittsburgh said Bell will be ready to go.
“One thing that I can say about Le’Veon is he’s going to be in extremely good shape, McLendon said. “He always has been and I don’t see that changing. His physical condition precedes anything else. I know that. He trains hard.”
Bell has been training in South Florida with the personal trainer he has used since he left Michigan State in 2013. Bell puts up frequent posts of his workouts on social media and the Jets are not worried about his physical condition.
Jets coach Adam Gase has been in frequent contact with Bell and he said Bell texts him his workout videos. Gase has said he does not have an issue with Bell staying away from voluntary workouts. Bell has also been able to keep up to date with the team-issued tablets that have all of the information from meetings and films of practices.
“I figured that he was going to do the same routine that he had been doing the last two, three years I think it’s been,” Gase said. “I knew he was down in that Boca/Fort Lauderdale/Miami area, been working with the same guy for a while. I know he feels comfortable with that, which I’m good with. Once we hit training camp, he’ll be ready to go. That’s what we need.”
The relationship between Bell and Gase is going to be under the microscope because it surfaced after the firing of GM Mike Maccagnan that Gase thought the Jets paid too much for Bell in free agency. The Jets interviewed their fourth candidate, Bears executive Champ Kelly, for Maccagnan’s vacant GM job Monday. Gase has said there are no issues between he and Bell, and they have been texting back and forth all spring. Still, it will be a storyline this season.
While Gase has said he has no issue with Bell missing the voluntary workouts, McLendon admitted he tried to convince Bell to take part.
“I told him, ‘you understand, this place is different than Pittsburgh. You do need to get back so you can understand the quarterback and the situation,’” McLendon said. “He was like, ‘I’ve been talking to him.’ So, I was like, ‘That’s not my business, you handle your business.’ ”
McLendon said it will be important for Bell and quarterback Sam Darnold to start building chemistry.
“You just want to get to know your teammates, especially when you have a young quarterback,” McLendon said. “He needs to know your rhythms. He needs to know how patient you are. It’s easy to see on the field, but it’s so hard to prepare with because he is very dynamic in the things he does out of the backfield, in the backfield, lining up at wide receiver. He can do a lot of special things.”
McLendon said everyone will forget about Bell’s missed time once the season gets here and they see him running through Jets’ opponents.
“I know there’s been a lot of people saying, ‘Why is he not here because he was paid?’ ” McLendon said. “Listen man, he’s not an All-Pro or a Pro Bowl running back for no reason. Sometimes people prepare differently. Would we love him here? Yes. But when he comes here and we’re rocking and rolling and he’s helping us get to where we want to go this.”
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