Le'Veon Bell: Sam Darnold 'reminds me a lot of myself'

  • By Adam Maya NFL.com
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All Le'Veon Bell can talk about is practice.

The Jets running back hasn't played a game in nearly 600 days and was officially ruled out for preseason contests earlier this week by head coach Adam Gase. The delay adds to the suspense of the New York debut of a player who, season-long holdout aside, has been among the league's best for years.

A big reason Bell was brought to the Big Apple was to aid Sam Darnold. Given the Pro Bowl back's presence in the passing game, his rapport with Darnold figures to be crucial to the Jets' success. Bell caught 160 passes the last two years he played for the Steelers.

Playing with a new quarterback for the first time in his career, Bell said he and the young quarterback have already connected in how they approach practice.

"Sam has all the intangibles, he has the mindset," Bell said, via Randy Lange of the team's website. "You can see him -- he's a competitor. Every day in practice he literally wants to get better. It's hard to ... it's hard to describe someone that's like that because I'm like that.

"A lot of people go to practice and you're just practicing. They call a play and you run the play. When they call a play for me, I'm trying to work myself and I'm trying to like really get better at it. And I can see that in Sam. When he makes a throw he doesn't really like, I can see that in his face, 'I could've thrown that better.' You've got to love that about him because he literally wants to be perfect.

"He reminds me a lot of myself in that aspect."

That would be a boon for the Jets if it translates to the playing field. After a relatively quiet rookie season, Bell made his first Pro Bowl and was an All-Pro selection in Year 2. Darnold won the Jets' starting QB job before last year's season opener and produced mixed results while starting 13 games, including 17 touchdowns to 15 interceptions.

The 22-year-old gunslinger has gotten off to a fast start in two preseason games despite his star running back's absence, completing 9 of 12 passes for 114 yards and a touchdown. Bell assured that when they take the field together, he'll perform just how he and Darnold have been practicing.

"I know everybody's eager to watch me play, and I'm eager to play," he said. "Everybody knows I'm being patient, and that's what I'm doing. I'll wait till Week 1 comes, and when it counts, I'll be out there giving it everything I've got."