Think the Jets regret paying top dollar for Le’Veon Bell yet?
This comes on the heels of Bell’s steadfast denial this summer when the veteran workhorse insisted he was healthy, contradicting beat reporters who claimed a bum hamstring was to blame for his lighter-than-expected practice workload at Jets training camp. Bell, who labored to a career-worst 3.2 yards per attempt (second-lowest in the league among qualified rushers) last year in his debut season for Gang Green, looked noticeably hobbled in Sunday’s season-opening loss to Buffalo, scraping together just 14 yards on six carries while adding an additional 32 yards on two catches.
With Bell shelved for at least the next three games, the Jets will proceed with 37-year-old Frank Gore—a favorite of Adam Gase, who previously coached him in Miami—as their top ball-carrier. Sliding in behind Gore will be Kalen Ballage, who was added to the active roster in the corresponding move for Bell. The Jets had initially traded for Ballage (another Dolphins alum) last month, but the transaction was nullified after he failed his physical. Practice-squadder Josh Adams, who handled two carries in Sunday's defeat, can also expect a promotion in the coming days.
Apparently healthy now, Ballage will hold down the No. 2 role in East Rutherford while fourth-round rookie Lamical Perine continues to nurse an ankle injury he picked up in training camp. A former fourth-round pick himself, Ballage was one of the least effective rushers in all of football a year ago, plodding to a woeful 1.8 yards per carry on 74 backfield totes for the Dolphins in 2019.
The earliest Bell could return is Week 5 against the Cardinals, though the 28-year-old’s timetable remains a moving target. With the Jets’ backfield cupboard all but empty, it wouldn’t be surprising if GM Joe Douglas kicked the tires on former Falcons Pro Bowler Devonta Freeman, who worked out for the Jaguars recently but ultimately left that visit without a deal. With promising rookie Denzel Mims (hamstring) joining Bell on I.R., New York’s already-stagnant offense is probably going to get worse before it gets better. A Sunday date with the 49ers, who should be hungrier than ever after their disappointing loss to Arizona in last week’s opener, likely won’t help matters.