Le’Veon Bell hadn’t played in a pro football game for 602 straight days.
That’s a long time. It was Jan. 14, 2018 to be exact.
He certainly didn’t look it was that long.
Bell looked every bit worth the Jets spent for him as their main offseason purchase.
He was one of the few – likely five or less – bright spots in their shocking 17-16 loss to Buffalo at MetLife Sunday afternoon.
Bell finished with 60 yards rushing – a breakaway 12- and 10-yarder in the opening half – and he spent most of the second half as a receiver, catching six balls overall for 32 yards – four after halftime.
He also crossed the 8,000-yard threshold for his career becoming the only in NFL history to reach the mark in 63 games.
Bell made a shoestring catch for a touchdown and also outjumped a defender for a successful two-point conversion.
It was a successful debut for the much-maligned running back who has done everything the Jets have asked of him, and the presumed ugly side of him hasn’t surfaced. Bell played all of the Jets’ 67 snapsfrom scrimmage.
He gives the Jets their first legitimate franchise back since Curtis Martin. Thomas Jones did a steady job under Rex Ryan, but Bell has more potential.
With obvious needs along the offensive line that caused quarterback Sam Darnold to look like Fran Tarkenton scrambling around in the backfield from the fierce Buffalo rush all afternoon, the Jets need to turn Bell loose against Cleveland next Monday for a 20-plus carry night.
He did have the benefit of rest in the preseason, and the Jets perhaps were a bit cautious in his debut.
Bell addressed the dramatic loss in a calming fashion.
“It was little minor details,” he said after the game. “It could be one guy here and there. It just wasn’t clicking on each and every play. We have to clean some things up, and we will get better.”
They have to and soon.