FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — The rumors surrounding Le’Veon Bell’s departure from the Jets began just about as soon as he arrived. Supposedly his new coach thought the money he was getting would have been better used elsewhere. But when the running back spoke in the locker room two days before the Jets’ final game of the season, he made it clear he wants to be back.
“Yeah, obviously, but we’ll see what happens,” Bell said Friday. “I’m not in control of anything. All I can do is go out there and play football. People upstairs are going to do what they do upstairs, so I’m just going to make sure I end this football season well.”
Bell, 27, who signed a four-year, $52 million contract that included $35 million in guaranteed money last offseason, has been inconsistent for the Jets.
In his sixth NFL season, he has yet to rush for 100 yards in a game and has posted more than 100 yards from scrimmage in only three games entering Sunday’s contest against the Bills in Buffalo.
The three-time Pro Bowl selection has needed to learn a new offensive system. The Jets’ offensive line also has been hit with injuries, which has made it difficult for the offense as a whole to build chemistry.
Bell said the offense still has to “figure ourselves out,” but just as his running style has been described as patient, he said that describes his philosophy about the team.
“I’m a guy that’s extremely patient, not just on the field,” Bell said. “And I understand it takes a while to try to build a stable program and I’m here for it.”
Coach Adam Gase also said he hopes to be able to utilize Bell’s skills more after spending more time with him.
“It’s the hardest thing about going through Year One is you kind of learn not only players, coaches, just what’s the right fit for this group,” Gase said. “And I think going through a spring and kind of setting everything up in January, February, March, making sure that we’re starting in the right direction instead of trying to figure things out.”
Another blood test for Bell
Bell had a post-Christmas present waiting for him at his locker Friday morning.
Last month, the running back tweeted he was “done” taking “random HGH drug tests.” That was put to the test Friday.
Bell was greeted at his locker with yet another order to take an HGH blood test. The words “blood test” and “immediately” were highlighted. The fact that he had to complete the doping test “today” was underlined.
Bell has grown frustrated with the frequent drug tests. Last month, he said he didn’t remember being tested as often with the Steelers.
“It seems kind of odd,” he said Friday. “It feel like they’re trying to clone me or something.”
Under the rules of the collective-bargaining agreement, a computer program is used to select five players from eight randomly selected teams for testing. Players have to take the test or they can be suspended.
When directly asked if he took the drug test, Bell repeated his initial answer about his reaction to the notice.
“I said what I said last time,” Bell said, “and we’ll cross that bridge if we have to cross that.”