He’s the silent workhorse.
Never flashy, never brash, never bold. But he’s durable, skillful and a vital cog in the Jets’ rushing attack.
Bilal Powell, now 27, has watched running backs come and go at 1 Jets Drive. Yet he remains a trusted weapon despite being the No. 2 guy.
“He has done very well,” Jets offensive coordinator Chan Gailey said of Powell. “He has come back in excellent shape, seeing things extremely well at this point. He has picked up right where he left off last year.”
Last season, bell-cow Chris Ivory shouldered the workload for the Jets, who finished 10-6. But Powell’s presence on the field proved vital. During their five-game winning streak between Weeks 12-16, he ran for 162 yards (5.8 average) and a TD and had 27 catches for 232 yards and two scores. But due to an ankle injury, Powell was inactive for their season finale in Buffalo — a game that could have guaranteed them the final AFC wild-card spot had they defeated the Bills, but fell short, 22-17.
But now, he’s healthy. And rushing behind a new No. 1 back: Matt Forte.
Forte, however, has yet to practice because of a lingering hamstring issue. And that means Powell will see more action in Thursday night’s preseason opener against Jacksonville, along with Romar Morris, Dominique Williams and possibly Khiry Robinson, recently activated off the physically unable to perform list (leg).
Asked how Powell has looked in camp, Bowles said: “He’s been healthy, he’s been quick, he looks a lot quicker than he did last year. He’s always smart, he’s always talking, he’s steady. What you see is what you get all the time from him. I’m happy about that.
“He looks quicker. . . . He keeps his mouth shut, he’s very smart, he’s very studious and he’s very attentive.”
Ivory, meanwhile, will make his MetLife Stadium return Thursday.
The former 1,000-yard rusher spent the past three seasons with the Jets before signing a big-money deal with the Jaguars. Asked by local media about returning to East Rutherford, N.J. to face his old team, Ivory was less than sentimental.
“It wouldn’t mean anything,” he said. “I had the same question when we played the Saints again, but to me it’s not (a big deal). I don’t know why it would mean any extra to me. I had the opportunity to go back, but I didn’t. I chose not to do that.”