Jets running back Le'Veon Bell was a workhorse for the Pittsburgh Steelers, but that won't be the case for the Jets. Not right away, at least, says head coach Adam Gase.
Bell, 27, signed a big four-year, $52.2 million deal with the Jets with $35 million guaranteed this offseason. Money like that, the second-most to any running back in the NFL per Spotrac, indicates the Jets should have big plans for Bell, but he's not going to be tossed right into the fire.
According to Gase, the Jets will ease Bell into his touches after the rusher didn't play in 2018 because of his contract dispute with the Steelers.
"I think we'll start early to where he'll get a certain amount of reps that we use. I mean, he is a veteran running back, he plays a position that's very physical. You can wear a guy out with too many rushes, too many touches, too many snaps, too many practice snaps. We'll keep an eye on that," Gase said per the New York Daily News. "I've always felt like I have a good feel of when a guy is either fatigued or we're heading in a direction of maybe we're wearing him down."
Bell, who did not attend the Jets' spring practices until the mandatory minicamp, said he's understanding of Gase's decision to ease him into work.
"I'll have plenty of time to knock all the rust off going into the season," Bell said. "When things actually count, I'll be ready for that."
Bell also opened up about this past year of missing football. While that "rust" is currently holding him back, he said he doesn't regret the way he handled things with the Steelers.
"I don't regret anything that happened," Bell said about sitting out last season. "Obviously everything has happened for a reason up until this point. But who's to say if I played last year, if I do go out there and play on a one-year franchise tag, if I do get hurt, do I end up sitting in this position today being with the New York Jets on a beautiful deal?"
Eventually Jets fans will want Bell to justify his contract with the team, especially with the ensuing decision to fire General Manager Mike Maccagnan after his free agency spending spree.
Bell has shown throughout in his career he has no problem carrying a large workload, as he regularly had 400-plus touches a season as a Steeler. But there's still plenty of time for Bell to sharpen up before the team's season opener against the Buffalo Bills on Sept. 8.