Le'Veon Bell Is a creature of habit, especially when it comes to his offseason training. It's a meticulous, well-thought-out program that has kept him in tip-top shape without having to show up to his team's facility for OTAs or minicamps every time it pops up on the schedule.
The Jets saw that last season when Bell only showed up to the first mandatory minicamp but didn't attend OTAs before or after that. He, instead, went to Florida to continue to work with trainer Pete Bommarito.
Why? It's a formula that has worked for him to not only play his best but feel his best while out on the gridiron.
Bell knew last season how much the Jets needed him to perform to be a successful team. But that obviously didn't happen, as Bell had his worst statistical year in the NFL.
So, going into the offseason, Bell planned to put the doubters saying he might have the hang up his cleats soon to bed. And many of those doubters are there because they use the age card when discussing Bell's shelf life in the league. At 28 years old, lots of running backs are close to calling it quits because of the strenuous acts they endure throughout a full 16-game season.
But this year, Bell has the enigma to that in his running backs room: Frank Gore. And Gore likes how his new teammate prepares himself each and every season.
"I look at a guy like Frank Gore and I’m fortunate he’s in my room," Bell told reporters via conference call on Monday. "I pick his brain over little things here and there, and he kinda talks — like just me talking to him — he kinda has a similar mindset that I had. The fact that he’s 36, 37 years old and playing at a high level still and he was talking about the same things he was doing at 28. Like, ‘Yeah, Le’Veon, I was doing this that and the other.’ I know I’m doing the right things because of stuff I’m hearing from a guy who’s doing it.
"I'm not really worried about an age."
The future Hall of Famer in Gore has had media and fans alike hounding him over when he thinks it will be time to retire, and that time just hasn't come. When he signed with the Jets, Gore explained how he asked his son if he should retire, and his son said he had more in the tank. So he signed the Jets deal.
And now he gets to play with a familiar face in Bell, as Gore also works with Bommarito during the offseason. Gore is just as diligent with offseason training as Bell, if not more because he needs to be able to play his position -- a grueling one that requires hard linebacker and defensive linemen hits to occur on a daily basis -- at his age.
"The fact that he's played so long is because of his training, the things he does in the offseason," Bell said.
Bell is following suit, and because of that, he feels like he is on the same path as Gore.
"I feel like I’m going in the right direction, I’m doing all the right things correctly because I’m hearing it from a guy that’s done it already.”
What matters at the end of the day for Bell and Gore, no matter what training took place prior to the season, is the results on the field. Bell will be getting the bigger workload, obviously, but Gore was brought in to diminish that a bit after head coach Adam Gase admitted overworking No. 26 in 2019.
But Bell actually might be better prepared for this unique start to the season than the rest of the league. Without preseason games, many players won't get those game reps they like to gear up for Week 1. Bell, on the other hand, hasn't seen preseason snaps in years, so he is already in his element when Week 1 comes around.
"I don’t get a lot of preseason reps anyway throughout the course of my career," he said. "I tend to try to use practice reps and use them as game reps. Obviously it’s not the same but that’s what I try to do and I’m going to continue to do that.”
And that can be attributed to the work he is and continuously will be putting in during the offseason to move that shelf life up one year at a time until it's his decision to be done with the game -- not his body's.
Like Gore, Bell just wants to look better with age. He already feels that way.
"I feel better at 28 than I did at 21," he said.