Le’Veon Bell won’t play Sunday due to an illness.
Bell missed practice on Thursday and Friday and was listed as questionable in the Jets’ final injury report. But the team downgraded Bell on Saturday to out.
That means Bilal Powell and Ty Montgomery will handle much of the running duties when the Jets face the Dolphins at MetLife Stadium. Josh Adams also could be called upon to help the run game, which has been ineffective for much of the season.
Bell, who was the Jets’ splash free-agent signing, hasn’t looked like the three-time Pro Bowl back he was with the Steelers.
In 12 games, he has rushed for 589 yards on 183 carries. He hasn’t had a single 100-yard game this season. Bell’s 3.2 yards per carry is the lowest of his career.
There are a number of factors that have contributed to that, from Adam Gase’s usage of the playmaking back to the offensive line’s struggles. And there is the possibility that Bell isn’t the same player after sitting out last year over a contract dispute. Naturally, Bell doesn’t think that’s the case.
“I understand, you know, offense is starting to come together, and guys are starting to learn, and we’ve got a new system, and new players up front, and we’ve got new coaches and things like that,” Bell said this week on UNINTERRUPTED’s ‘17 Weeks’ Podcast on SiriusXM/Pandora. “But I think, you know, for me, I would love to put the game on my back and take games over. I haven’t had one of those games this year yet.
“A lot of people don’t think I’m the same player or that I can’t do that. That’s just because I haven’t had the opportunity really to show.”
Gase favors the passing game, and all of this has led to speculation that Bell might not be back with the Jets next season. They explored trading him before the trade deadline and could do so again after the season.
Powell is the Jets’ second-leading rusher, with 125 yards on 32 carries. Montgomery has only 60 yards on 19 carries. He also hasn’t been used as much as expected after the Jets signed Montgomery in the offseason.
Montgomery took first-team snaps for most of training camp and was expected to play with Bell or spell him as the No. 2 back. It hasn’t happened that way.
“I thought we’d be able to use him a lot more,” Gase said. “I feel like the play count with the number of plays we’ve had per game haven’t been ideal for us to get these guys as many snaps as we wanted.”