The clock is ticking for Le’Veon Bell as Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians revealed that the three-time Pro Bowl running back’s chances of playing against the Carolina Panthers in Week 16 depend on his grasp of the playbook. This gives Bell four days leading up to game day to be prepared to play.
“Hopefully, if he’s smart enough,” Arians responded with a smile during his December 22 press conference when asked whether Bell will be active against the Panthers.
Aside from pushing him to learn the playbook, Arians was otherwise complimentary of the veteran back. The Buccaneers signed Bell with the expectation that Leonard Fournette will be placed on the Injured Reserve list. Arians admitted that Bell had some catching up to do if he is going to have a role in the Bucs offense.
“It just depends how fast he can catch up, and he’s been a good receiver in the past and played in this offense in Pittsburgh for a while,” Arians noted. “So, we’ll see what he can learn and what he can give us the next few weeks.”
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Bell: The Bucs Were ‘the Only Place That Could Have Called Me’
Bell played five games this season for the Ravens before being released in November. The veteran rusher admitted he considered retiring and added that the Buccaneers may be the only team he would have considered signing with in 2021.
“I’m not even gonna lie, like I got to the point where I had thought about kind of calling it quits,” Bell told the media on December 22. “Just because of the fact that like it kind of wasn’t working out for me for the last couple of spots I’ve been at. This was literally the only spot that I felt like could have made me want to play football and go out there and be excited to play.
“This was like literally the only place that could have called me and got me to really play, because I was going to start boxing and focusing on boxing, but I think this was a great opportunity. It’s something you can’t really turn down playing with Coach Arians and Tom Brady and obviously A.B. They got a good thing going over here and to come over here and try to help I’m gonna try to do my thing.”
Arians on Jones: ‘It’s His Time Now to Do What Happened for Leonard Last Year’
Despite the addition of Bell, the Bucs are expected to lean heavily on Ronald Jones as their RB1 with Ke’Shawn Vaughn also likely to get more snaps. Arians expressed confidence in utilizing Jones as Fournette recovers from a hamstring injury.
“It’s his time now to do what happened for Leonard last year when he [Jones] got hurt, and so yeah I’ve got all the confidence in the world,” Arians noted during his December 20 press conference. “He ran great, caught the ball good and I think going forward it’s his job right now.”