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Le’Veon Bell is relieved to be in Kansas City, wants to reinvent himself

The former All-Pro running back is ready to start a new chapter in his career with the Chiefs

New York Jets v Atlanta Falcons Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

The Kansas City Chiefs sent a message to the rest of the NFL on Monday afternoon, as they rushed for 245 yards as a team on 46 total carries. They had the historic rushing performance while a 28-year-old, former All-Pro running back watched with anticipation — knowing he was soon joining the team.

Former New York Jets running back Le’Veon Bell is officially in Kansas City, and he was at the facility with the team on Wednesday for practice. His press conference was his first chance to speak to local media and Chiefs fans in more than just a social media post.

His in-game tweets indicate that he was tuned in to watch his new team dominate — and he had one word to describe what he saw.

“I was like, ‘This is unbelievable’,” Bell recalled. “As a defense, it’s just so tough to stop cause there are so many weapons. You kind of just have to pick your poison. When you guys at the coaching position, the offensive line, the quarterback position and they’re all making the right decisions and on the same page, it’s just really a tough offense to stop. So I’m just going to come in and fit in where I can, make some plays.”

The unique aspect of Bell’s game is how flexible he can be fitting in different spots. That part of his play was not on display in his time with the Jets — and it’s hard to blame Bell for that. He knew he had to find a spot to utilize his talents better, even if that meant seeing a lighter workload.

“When I decided to come here, I already knew the weapons and how there’s only one football to go around,” Bell acknowledged. “When I do get my opportunity, I think it’s going to be a lot of opportunity to show what I can do in space, running routes. I think this offense is really fit for my skill set, I think coach Reid does a good job of getting backs the ball in space. I’m just glad I got this opportunity.”

Members of the Chiefs’ fan base sure seemed to be glad he got this chance as well. The public’s reception of the news looked positive, and Bell felt the warm welcome.

“There’s been a lot of excitement, from the coaching staff to the players, fans, they really embraced me being here, and I’ve loved everything about it,” Bell shared. “I really feel like everyone has welcomed me here with open arms. It’s really a relief. Coming here, I don’t really feel pressured about anything. I just want to come here, be happy, and play football — and people are allowing me to do that. I feel like I’m in a great spot, great place, and I’m ready to roll.”

Pittsburgh Steelers v Cleveland Browns

Quarterback Patrick Mahomes — who Bell made sure to note is the first MVP he’s ever played with — expressed exhilaration in adding the two-time first-team All-Pro player.

“In the locker room, we’re extremely excited,” Mahomes noted. “If you look at how [Brett] Veach and coach Reid have put this culture together, it’s about bringing in great players and breeding competition... Obviously, he’s a mismatch coming out of the backfield. The way he’s able to run routes, the way he’s able to split out and basically be another receiver out there is pretty special. He’s going to get a lot of matchups that he hasn’t gotten recently with linebackers on him so I’m sure he’s excited about that.”

Another new teammate of Bell’s has to be excited. Defensive tackle Chris Jones has worked out with Bell in the past few offseasons — and took it upon himself to become the Chiefs’ main recruiter of Bell.

“When I was a free agent a few years ago, [Jones] was advocating for me to come here,” Bell remembered. “It didn’t happen, but when I came out this second time, he was kind of making jokes like, ‘Don’t make that mistake again. You might as well come on.’ He stayed in my ear about it, I’m glad he did. It’s not like he gave me too much influence, I wanted to come here anyways.”

Bell had heard how the public perception of him had changed. He went from being considered one of the most talented running backs in NFL history to being called over-the-hill or no longer an elite player.

However the league perceives him moving forward, he just wants to enjoy the sport he plays.

“Being on a great team, a great coaching staff, I just want to reinvent myself,” Bell explained. “I’ve played at a high level for so long, I’ve had two years where it has not been a high level — people have looked at it like that — so I just want to get back here, get my feet back under me, get in a good offense, get the ball when I can in some space, not have too much pressure on me. Just play football. That’s really what I want to do, and I think coming here is going to give me the opportunity to do that... I don’t need to necessarily worry about how many times I’m touching it or things like that. I just want to fit in and when I do get it, make plays.”

When he does get the ball, Bell has earned a reputation as a patient runner with great vision. Some take that as Bell not being explosive through holes or that he doesn’t run hard — so he set the record straight.

“There’s times where I’m patient, and there’s time where I’m not,” Bell insisted. “If the hole’s there, I’m going to take the hole. If it’s not there or it’s a small here, but I can create a bigger one, that’s when I improvise, try to manipulate defense, and that’s when you see the patience comes in. If I’m running outside zone and the hole’s there, I’m going to stick my foot in the ground take it. It really depends on the play, I don’t try to go in and think of being patient, I’m just reading my blocks and improvising based on what happens.”

Head coach Andy Reid told reporters that they’ll evaluate “day-to-day” whether or not Bell will play in Week 7 against the Denver Broncos. In regard to the narrative that Bell may not be a good fit in the locker room, Reid trusted that general manager Brett Veach would make the right call.

“Brett doesn’t let anything slide,” Reid declared. “He checks into everything and we obviously know people in the small fraternity of this league. We felt like he would fit in fine.”

The running back who once gashed through the Chiefs defense for 170 rushing yards on 30 carries in a 2017 Divisional round upset at Arrowhead Stadium will now be helping that team try to repeat as Super Bowl champions.

Time truly heals all wounds.

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