Le’Veon Bell left Sunday’s season opener with a hamstring injury, leaving the New York Jets shorthanded and putting the running back’s immediate future in doubt.
Bell appeared to suffer the injury late in the first half of the team’s Week 1 game against the Buffalo Bills, as he stumbled while running a route and fell to the ground. Bell returned for the second half, but appeared to be hampered and was taken out of the game.
NFL.com reporter Ian Rapoport reported on Twitter that Bell was doubtful to return to Sunday’s game, and cameras showed him sitting on the bench on the sidelines with his leg wrapped.
The injury to Bell was a major blow to the Jets offense, which had struggled against an aggressive Bills defense for most of the first half. Bell finished with six rushes for 14 yards, but did most of his damage in the passing attack as the Jets split him out wide on a number of plays. He caught two passes for 32 yards.
Le'Veon Bell is very good.
— Jets Videos (@snyjets) September 13, 2020
With Bell out, the Jets were forced to turn to veteran Frank Gore, though the team largely abandoned the run after facing a 21-0 deficit in the first half.
Coming into the contest, Bell and the Jets had been optimistic about the offense this year after struggling in 2019. As the USA Today’s Jets Wire noted, he said his knowledge of head coach Adam Gase’s offensive scheme was “day and night” ahead of where it was last season, saying he understood the scheme much better compared to the start of last year.
“We have a good team, we just have to put it all together,” he said ahead of this week’s contest. “We can be special.”
Bell was coming off one of the worst statistical seasons of his career in 2019, rushing for just 789 yards on 3.2 yards per carry.
But as Jets Wire noted, he was not at fault for the Jets’ struggles.
“Bell’s lackluster 2019 was not exactly his fault,” the report noted. “Between Gase’s errors and being plagued by a porous offensive line, he stood no chance at succeeding in his first season in green and white.”
The team stumbled to a 7-9 record last year, but had hoped to compete for a more wide-open AFC East after quarterback Tom Brady left the New England Patriots.
It was not clear when the Jets could have more information on the ailment, including whether he could be miss any time beyond Sunday’s opener.