Le'Veon Bell is exercising his right to skip voluntary offseason workouts with the New York Jets. Yet, coaches aren't the only ones who tried to convince the running back it would be good if he worked with his new teammates.
Jets defensive tackle Steve McLendon, who knows Bell from their three seasons playing together in Pittsburgh, said he tried to convince the running back to attend OTAs.
"I talked to him and I told him, 'You understand this place is different than Pittsburgh,'" McLendon said, via NorthJersey.com. "I said, 'You need to get back so you can understand the quarterback and the situation.' ... I told him, 'The media is gonna get you if you don't come back.' That's the truth. I did tell him that."
McLendon's main pitch to Bell was that getting to know Sam Darnold is paramount, and the experience would be different than the years spent with Ben Roethlisberger in Pittsburgh.
"You just want to get to know your teammates, especially when we have a young quarterback," McLendon said. "He needs to know your rhythm, he needs to know how patient you are. It's easy to see on the film but it's so hard to prepare with because [Bell] is very dynamic in the things that he can do. Out of the backfield, in the backfield, lining up at wide receiver, he can do a lot of special things, and for me it's very amazing to have him on our team."
Bell has skipped all voluntary offseason workouts since signing with the Jets, instead choosing to work out on his own with a trainer he knows who can better monitor his conditioning.
While he attempted to get Bell into the building, McLendon admitted that in the grand scheme of things, the running back's absence isn't a huge deal.
"I know there's been a lot of people saying, 'Why is he not here? Because he was paid,'" McLendon said. "Listen, man, he's not an All-Pro, Pro Bowl running back for no reason. Sometimes people prepare differently. Would we love him here? Yes. But when he comes here and he's rocking and rolling and helping us get to where we want to go this season, ain't nobody going to be thinking about it. And I know I'm not."
The veteran defensive lineman added that Bell wouldn't show up for mandatory minicamp next week out of shape.
"One thing that I can say about Le'Veon, he's going to be in extremely good shape," McLendon said. "He's going to be in some good shape. He always has been and I don't see that changing. His physical condition [exceeds] anything else. And I know that. He trains hard."
The Jets hold mandatory minicamp from June 4-6, when Bell is finally expected to join his teammates on the practice field.