Jets running back Le'Veon Bell sat out last season, which means he hasn’t played a game of football since January 14, 2018. So should the Jets get him some work in the preseason, allowing him to shake off a year and a half of rust before the games count?
Jets head coach Adam Gase isn’t ready to say.
“I haven’t talked to him about it yet,” Gase said today, when asked whether Bell will play in Thursday’s preseason opener.
Gase coached the Dolphins last year, and he said he butted heads with running back Frank Gore, who wanted to work in the preseason while Gase preferred to keep him fresh for the regular season.
“Frank Gore is a great example,” Gase said. “I was like, ‘Frank, you are not playing in the preseason.’ He was in my office every day the third preseason game and he was like, ‘I’m playing.’ It’s hard to argue with Frank Gore. He’s not listening to what I’m saying. He’s just like, ‘I’m playing. I will be dressed whether or not you put me in a game.’ We ended up playing him one series and then he stood next to me for the next two series and says, ‘I’m going back in. I’m going back in.’ It’s maddening with a guy like that that wants to play that bad and it is a fine line with Le’Veon, he hasn’t played in a year. At the same time, when’s the right time? Is it this game? Is it the next one? Is it the next one? Do we just not play him this preseason? Do we go through the whole time and just give him reps? All those questions are what we keep talking about.”
Gase said the decision will ultimately be his, and Bell will abide by it.
“The one conversation we had about it, he goes, ‘Whatever you tell me you want to do, that’s what we’ll do.’ So, he’s been outstanding in that area,” Gase said.
NFL stars are increasingly sitting out the preseason, as teams calculate that the injury risk simply isn’t worth it. Bell may be an exception, however, a star player who sees preseason action just long enough to get a feel for live games again, and hopefully not long enough to get hurt.