The New York Jets lost one starting player to a season-ending injury by playing him in the preseason. Head coach Adam Gase isn't about to risk the franchise's high-priced investment at running back to a similar fate.
Gase announced Le'Veon Bell, who signed a four-year, $52.5 million deal this offseason, will not play a snap this preseason. This comes on the heels of starting linebacker Avery Williamson being lost for the season with a torn ACL in the Jets' second preseason game. Gase admitted he kept Williamson in too long.
"Looking back on it, hindsight is 20/20, I wish I would've gotten him out of there a series earlier," Gase said to reporters Sunday. "I talked to him. It's on me. I'm the one who has to make that call and get him out of there. We didn't. It's a shame because he was having a good camp."
Bell arguably held the title as the best running back in the NFL when he last took the field in January 2018, finishing with 1,946 yards from scrimmage and 11 touchdowns he put up in 15 games in 2017 (at the age of 25). Over his five NFL seasons, Bell has 5,336 rushing yards and 2,660 receiving yards, averaging 5.2 yards per touch.
Since Bell sat out the 2018 season with the Pittsburgh Steelers in hopes of seeking a new contract, Week 1 of the regular season will be the first time he's played an NFL game in 20 months.
"I feel like he's in great shape, he's been contacting about as good as anybody on the practice field. I feel confident that he'll be ready to go week one," Gase said. "He's in a good place right now. The way he's working in practice, the way he's running the ball in practice, I feel really good about him when we hit the regular season."