New York Jets running back Le’Veon Bell, who opened training camp by predicting a career year, was placed on injured reserve Tuesday with a pulled hamstring.
Also on Tuesday, the Jets signed former Miami Dolphins running back Kalen Ballage. The Jets tried to acquire Ballage in a trade last month, but the deal was voided when he failed a physical because of a hamstring injury. He became a free agent.
Under the new IR rules, Bell must miss at least three games, meaning he will be eligible to play in Week 5 against the Arizona Cardinals.
The move comes one day after coach Adam Gase indicated that Bell “could be looking at a couple of weeks” on the sideline. He was hurt in Sunday’s loss to the Buffalo Bills.
This is a tough blow for Bell, who dropped significant weight in the offseason and reported at 210 pounds — his lightest weight since high school, he said. Coming off his worst statistical season, he vowed to rebound in 2020.
Frank Gore, 37, could also fill Bell’s role over the next few weeks and, perhaps fittingly, face the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday at MetLife Stadium. Gore, the third leading rusher in NFL history, is the 49ers’ all-time leader.
The Jets also have rookie La’Mical Perine, a fourth-round pick from Florida, but his status is uncertain. He’s recovering from a sprained ankle, suffered last month in an intrasquad scrimmage. They likely will elevate Josh Adams from the practice squad; he played in the opener and scored a touchdown.
Before the injury, Bell was their workhorse in the backfield and was involved in the passing game, something Gase had promised before the season.
After initially giving Bell’s injury a two-week timetable, Gase backtracked a bit, saying he “wouldn’t be surprised” if Bell came back sooner. He said he didn’t want to put any restrictions on Bell. That comment likely stemmed from their dispute last month over a hamstring injury. Bell called out Gase on Twitter after being removed from a scrimmage, and it led to a long sitdown between the coach and player.
Bell was hurt in the second quarter of the Jets’ 27-17 loss to the Bills, but he stayed in the game for a few plays in the third quarter. Afterward, Gase publicly second-guessed himself, saying he was “mad” that he let Bell continue. He expressed that sentiment to Bell.
“We talked after the game,” Gase said. “He knew how I felt.”
Bell hasn’t been made available to comment. He signed a four-year, $52.5 million contract last year but hasn’t come close to meeting expectations. In 2019, he rushed for a career-low 789 yards and only 3.2 yards per carry, the lowest in franchise history (minimum: 200 attempts).
The Jets also placed starting linebacker Blake Cashman (groin) and rookie wide receiver Denzel Mims (hamstring) on injured reserve. Cashman was injured early in the season opener. Mims, a second-round pick from Baylor, was hurt before training-camp practices started.