Needing all the help they can get, the New York Jets might have one good thing going for them this week against the Arizona Cardinals.
Running back Le’Veon Bell could be activated to face Arizona on Sunday, and it would be a boost for a 0-4 team with a coach on the hot seat that will be giving 35-year-old quarterback Joe Flacco his first start since Oct. 27, 2019.
Jets head coach Adam Gase told reporters Thursday that Bell should be ready to play after he was designated to return off the injured reserve Wednesday.
“He looks good in practice. It’s all about the roster adjustment at this point,” Gase said.
New York showed signs that Bell would return this week when it released former Arizona State running back Kalen Ballage on Tuesday.
The 28-year-old Bell injured his hamstring Week 1 while taking six carries for 14 yards. The versatile back also had 32 receiving yards on two catches in the opener.
Gase suggested that the Jets aren’t worried about limiting Bell against Arizona.
“I think (Bell) can be pretty effective,” Gase said when asked how impactful Bell might be upon his return. “He did a good job of … getting healthy and staying in good shape. Did a good job making sure he maintained where his weight was. It’s pretty easy, especially when you have a hamstring issue, where you can’t do what you’re normally used to doing.
“I think he feels even better now than he did when we hit that first game.”
The Jets surely could use a talent boost from the versatile and physical Bell, especially with Flacco only a few weeks into his return. The quarterback was inactive behind starter Sam Darnold in Weeks 1-3 but played briefly last week when Darnold injured his shoulder — that injury sidelined Darnold for Sunday.
At least the Jets might have a fully-staffed running back room for Gase, who is on the hot seat. New York’s offense ranked 31st in offensive DVOA (defense-adjusted value over average) this year, and the rushing game specifically ranks 30th, according to Football Outsiders.
How the Jets utilize Bell along with 37-year-old Frank Gore and rookie fourth-round pick La’Mical Perine remains to be determined.
“We’ll kind of see how the game goes,” Gase said regarding the rotation. “It’s hard to say at the moment.”
But rookie tackle Mekhi Becton, a first-round pick who has flashed, is dealing with a shoulder injury and would be missed. He didn’t practice Wednesday and has not played half the snaps in the past two games while dealing with the injury.
Cardinals cornerback Patrick Peterson said the Jets running game will benefit a team that likes to set up its passing game.
“They thrive off the big plays. They love to take their fair share of shots,” Peterson said. “We’re going to have our hands full on making sure we eliminate their big plays. We know this is a desperate football team and we’re going to get their best shot.”