Sam Darnold has only seen video of Le’Veon Bell, but he’s already imagined what it will be like to have him in the backfield since the Jets signed the two-time All-Pro to a four-year, $52.5 million contract last month.
“I love it,” Darnold said Wednesday at Yankee Stadium. “I mean, what’s not to love about it? Le’Veon is a great player. He’s very instinctual, too. He’s very quarterback friendly, which I’ve noticed watching his tape a little bit. Whenever Big Ben [Roethlisberger] was back there ... as a quarterback, you sense when time runs out. You start looking for guys and Le’Veon is always really friendly and he’s always right there in your vision. Or he was always in Ben’s vision.
“So I’m looking forward to that, just whenever I need him, just him to be that security blanket that I need to just check it down and he can get yards after the catch. So I’m really excited about it.”
The day before he’s scheduled to model the Jets’ new uniforms, Darnold showed up at the Stadium and held up a different jersey, this one a pinstriped No. 14 with his name stitched across the top. Otherwise, Darnold wore a knit cap and shades, offering no hint of Thursday’s grand unveiling, other than a thumbs up to the design.
“Yeah, I’ve gotten to see them,” Darnold said as a few Yankees did pregame drills behind him. “They’re awesome. Very cool. I’m really excited for the fans to get to see them and get to see their reaction, what they think of them. I think, for us, [that] is the thing that really matters, what the fans think of them. As long as they think we look sharp, we’re going to think we look sharp.”
Darnold spent time talking with manager Aaron Boone, another USC alum, in front of the Yankees’ dugout and planned to stay for the game. He joked about waiting for the nice weather — “And I’m still wearing a beanie,” the SoCal native said — to take in his first experience with seeing baseball in the Bronx.
“It’s a great environment,” said Darnold, who was interested in seeing the difference from his own game days at MetLife.
Darnold said his baseball career ended after freshman year in high school when he dropped the sport to concentrate on his other two favorites.
“Once [scholarship] offers started to come in football-wise, I kept playing basketball,” Darnold said. “But I really decided to focus on football.”