Le'Veon Bell is creeping up on 600 days since his last NFL game. After not playing in the preseason opener, he's getting antsy for live action, but the running back knows that the team is trying to do what's best for the long-term.
"I understand they're going to protect me from myself," Bell said, via Manish Mehta of the NY Daily News.
Bell's debut for Gang Green might not happen this week against the Atlanta Falcons on Thursday night. While the dual-threat back is itching to get back on the field during a game, he knows he doesn't need preseason reps to be ready when the real lights come on.
"I don't really necessarily need them," Bell said of getting preseason touches. "If I get them, they'll help. But I don't think I'll need them. I think once we get out there... football is football. I've been playing for so long. It naturally will come back to me. I'll get adjusted to the game... in a couple plays and I'm ready to go."
Coach Adam Gase said Bell being ready for the regular season is more about the RB preparing for the pace of play rather than getting hit for the first time in more than 20 months by an opponent.
"For him, it's more of getting in-game offense, the flow of the game," Gase said. "Really that's the only thing he's missing from what we've done. I don't think it's necessarily the contact. He knows what's going on. It's just that flow of the game. It's a different deal when it's a real game. Like Thursday (in the preseason opener), you saw it's different than practice. The way Sam (Darnold) was operating -- that tempo he was going at -- we weren't going like hurry-up on the ball. He was just playing at a good tempo. I think that's just something that wouldn't be a bad thing for (Bell) to experience."
Bell is gearing up for a heavy workload in an intriguing Jets offense behind their second-year quarterback. The former Steeler is ready to take some hits and dish out his own punishment, but understands if coaches hold back the reins for another month, it could be a net-positive.
"I'm definitely ready to play," Bell said. "And play against people other than my teammates... and guys who don't know our plays. It's hard having to be patient and wait, but at the same time, I know it's for the better good. When Week 1 comes around, I'm going to be happy out there playing. OK, now the lights are on. It's time to go."