Jets' Le'Veon Bell to Practice 'When It's Time to Play Football,' Skip OTAs

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistMay 7, 2019

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - FEBRUARY 02:  Le'Veon Bell of the Pittsburgh Steelers attends SiriusXM at Super Bowl LII Radio Row at the Mall of America on February 2, 2018 in Bloomington, Minnesota.  (Photo by Cindy Ord/Getty Images for SiriusXM)
Cindy Ord/Getty Images

Le'Veon Bell got the lucrative multiyear deal he was seeking from the New York Jets, but that won't stop the three-time Pro Bowler from being selective regarding his offseason involvement with the team.

Bell said Monday he intends to suit up for the Jets "when it's time to play football" and that his focus is on the bigger picture:

The team's three-day veteran minicamp began April 23. Bell opted out of the voluntary event, something head coach Adam Gase downplayed when speaking to reporters, per Randy Lange of the Jets' official site:

"He was here that first week and we got a lot of good information to him. And the good thing is having iPads and things like that helps you. If a guy's not here, he can keep up on what we're doing as far as the playbook goes. Really for him, he has a pretty good training regimen he goes through. He knows how to get his body ready for training camp and the regular season. He's been doing this for a minute."

Bell can also point to his 2017 offseason as evidence his approach can deliver results.

He didn't report to the Pittsburgh Steelers until a little over a week before their season opener. Despite that, he ran for 1,291 yards and nine touchdowns while catching 85 passes for 655 yards and two scores to earn Pro Bowl and All-Pro honors.

This situation is different, though, at least in terms of replicating such an extreme approach to the offseason.

Bell not only has to learn a new playbook, but he also has to build a rapport with his new teammates. He was in his fifth season with a mostly unchanged Steelers offense when he held out in 2017.

The optics aren't great, either, with Bell isolating himself after signing for four years and $52.5 million, $27 million of which is guaranteed, per Spotrac.

For the time being, this isn't too much of an issue. Bell is far from the first veteran to skip voluntary offseason workouts.

His presence will be more important at the start of training camp in June, when the Jets' offseason program kicks into high gear.

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