FLORHAM PARK, N.J. – The Jets hit the practice field for the first time Tuesday without their big offseason signing. Running back Le’Veon Bell did not attend Adam Gase’s first voluntary minicamp as Jets coach. But Gase didn’t sound concerned. He said Bell attended the first session of offseason workouts.
“It’s voluntary,” Gase said. “That’s what it is. That’s the CBA, that’s the rules. He was here that first week and got a lot of good information. The good thing is having the iPads and things like that help you. If a guy’s not here, he can keep up on what we’re doing as far as playbook goes.”
The Jets signed Bell to a four-year, $52.5 million contract after he sat out last season over a contract dispute with the Steelers. Bell also held out of training camp in 2017. The Jets have OTAs in May and a mandatory camp in June. Gase expects Bell to continue to work and get in shape.
“For him he has a pretty good training regimen that he goes through,” Gase said. “I don’t even remember the last time he’s had an offseason [workout]. It’s been a few years to where he’s gone through this kind of stuff. He knows how to get his body ready for training camp and the regular season.”
Linebacker Darron Lee, a candidate to be traded, also wasn’t at voluntary camp Tuesday.
General manager Mike Maccagnan said he feels “really good” about the players he could take with the No. 3 overall pick in Thursday’s draft. But he continues to leave open the possibility of trading down to “acquire more draft capital,” particularly a second-round pick.
“I think we would do anything that we feel is in the best interest of the team,” Maccagnan said.
'Behind' New England
Gase clarified his message that the Jets are chasing the Patriots. He said they’re “behind” New England, and they’re “playing catch-up,” so they need to work hard. New offensive lineman Kelechi Osemele said the Jets have a long way to go.
"We’re just getting started,” Osemele said. "I don’t think we’re close at all with what they’re doing up there in New England. It’s going to take a lot of work, and we’re just putting down the first brick, the first layer in that foundation . . . We’re kidding ourselves if we’re saying we’re caught up with New England.”
Gase said the Jets signed Ty Montgomery because of “his flexibility . . . You can do so many different things with him.” Montgomery, who will be Bell’s backup, has played running back and wide receiver and returned kickoffs for the Packers and Ravens.