FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — Le’Veon Bell is so excited to play in his first game with the Jets that he suits up in pads before preseason games. He’ll probably do the same thing when the Jets host the Saints in a preseason game on Saturday.
But Bell won’t be getting into that game or the next fake one, either. Coach Adam Gase has decided to keep the former Steelers star running back off the field until the season opener vs. the Bills on Sept. 8, even though Bell sat out last season in a contract dispute.
That has earned Bell some ribbing from a new teammate — quarterback Sam Darnold.
“He's out there in pregame with the pads on and dancing around and he's like, 'Let's go, guys! Come on! Get fired up!' " Darnold said on Wednesday. "And I'm like, 'Bro, you're not even playing. Once you start playing, you can start doing that stuff.’ "
Bell has been working hard, though, and not just at cheerleading. He has asked Jets defensive veterans such as C.J. Mosley, Jamal Adams and Steve McClendon to refrain from treating him with kid gloves in practice.
Bell craves the contact.
“In practice, they’ve got to look at me like, ‘We don’t want to hurt this in practice,’” Bell said. “But at the same time, I tell them, ‘Ya’ll can give me something extra.’ Even if they don’t sometimes, I try to give them something, get them a little upset or something. I try to do that intentionally just so I can feel it. A lot of times, you’ll start seeing guys getting frustrated, trying to hit me back. That’s what I need. They won’t take me to the ground. They’re not really going for my legs. Hitting me up top, things like that. I need all that.”