FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — Le’Veon Bell caught a short pass on the first play in team drills and took a handoff on the next one. Three touches in all for Bell on the offense’s first six plays, and then he disappeared — literally.
Bell left the field and didn’t return until after practice to sign autographs for fans attending. Bell was healthy, but coach Adam Gase said the star running back went inside the facility to take a league-mandated drug test for the second straight day.
“Since he wasn’t here in the spring he has to do everything now in training camp,” Gase said.
On Friday, Bell was gone about 40 minutes. It seemed odd that Bell missed large chunks of practice for two consecutive days due to a drug test. But Gase said it is common for players to be summoned from the field for this purpose.
“It happens more,” he said. “You guys don’t see it. In the season we can be out in practice and a guy gets pulled off. Happens a lot in OTAs. Guys come out later because they have to do that.”
Bell twice has been suspended by the NFL for violating the terms of the substance-abuse policy.
Without Bell, other backs got more work Saturday.
Versatile Ty Montgomery has been impressive through the first three days of camp with his ability to carry the football and make catches lining up at wide receiver. He has been taking first-team reps and could be a valuable weapon.
“I’m just doing what I do,” Montgomery said. “I make plays. That’s what I do.”
Bilal Powell and Trenton Cannon also took some first-team reps. Powell by design, Gase said, but Cannon came in after Bell left.
“When Le’Veon had to go in we were low on numbers,” Gase said. “It was good for them because that could happen in a real game. Anytime you get thrown in with the \[first team\] everything gets amplified.”
This was the first time the Jets were in pads, which was a significant step for Powell. He suffered a season-ending neck injury in Week 7 last season against the Vikings. It was considered career threatening. But Powell had surgery, was cleared to return and re-signed with the Jets.
Powell still doesn’t like to talk about what happened.
“I’m past that point right now,” he said. “I’m just happy to be back practicing. First time having contact since October. Felt pretty good. I just want to continue to move forward.”
First-round pick Quinnen Williams, who signed his contract Friday, practiced for the first time and took reps with both the first- and second-team defense. Gase said he wanted to re-watch film of practice before commenting on how the nose tackle did. But he was impressed with Williams’ conditioning.
“He’s in great shape,” Gase said. “I guess the YouTube things paid off.”
Williams said he trained on his own before camp and got his workouts off of YouTube rather than pay a performance coach.
Critical of Sam
Sam Darnold said he’s fine with his former mentor and first-year ESPN NFL analyst Josh McCown being critical of him on TV. Darnold said it can’t be worse than what McCown said to him last season.
“He’ll probably be a lot nicer — even if he was critical on TV — than he would be in the film room,” Darnold said. “Whatever he says won’t hurt me at all.”
Darnold said McCown helped him stay positive in his rookie season but he also was critical and corrected him when he needed it. Darnold appreciated it. He and McCown remain friends and speak every other day on SnapChat, Darnold said.
Kicker Chandler Catanzaro missed three straight field goals from 44 yards and out. He redeemed himself by hitting the next three.