For the second-straight game, the Jets took the field for a preseason meeting without running back Le'Veon Bell on Thursday. That same trend could continue during their final two preseason games as well.
New York head coach Adam Gase indicated on Friday that Bell, 27, didn't play during the team's exhibition against the Falcons because of a good week of practice.
"I just liked his week of practice," Gase said. "He got a ton of reps this week."
Forecasting ahead, Gase didn't make a commitments to Bell playing on Aug. 24 against the Saints, either.
"We'll kind of see how next week goes. He's played a lot of football. And I like where he's at right now. I love how he's working. If I feel like there's a need to play him next week, we will. If he has a good week of practice and it's not worth it for us to get him out there, then we won't," Gase said.
If Bell isn't out there with his teammates against the Saints, there's very little reason to believe he will be at all in the preseason since starters traditionally don't play in the final game of that four-game set. Despite not playing on Thursday, Bell was spotted at least warming up with teammates, though.
Bell admitted recently that he's itching to play football after sitting out the 2018 season because of a contract dispute with the Steelers. But he also said waiting until Sept. 8 when the Buffalo Bills are in town during the Jets' season opener is fine with him, too.
"I want to do whatever Coach Gase wants me to do," Bell said. "If he asks me to play, I'm going to go out there and play. If he tells me not to, tells me to rest, I'm going to do that. ... I'm going to do whatever's best for my team."
On March 13, the two-time All-Pro signed a four-year, $52.5 million contract with the Jets with $35 million guaranteed. While the Jets could argue it's important for Bell to build chemistry with his new teammates in game action before the regular season, especially with his unique running style, protecting such a big investment that is a proven commodity already is also a worthy argument to be made, and probably the right one.