A few Dolphins have gotten transplants much further north up I-95 with the Jets in recent years. The newest former ‘Fin, safety Yeremiah Bell, made sure he touched base with one of the crossover players that went before him, linebacker Jason Taylor, before making the change from aqua and coral to green and white.
“Yeah, I did talk with Jason a little bit. He told me this is a great organization. He told me I’d be a great fit,” Bell said after today’s OTA practice at the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center. “And I think I am a really good fit. I know how the defense has been since Rex has been here. He’s a guy you want to play for. A coach like that, he can make you better.
“I just look at it that this is a great situation for me. Everybody here has welcomed me with opened arms.”
Bell even got a housewarming gift from newer Jet Tim Tebow, who was never a Dolphin but who has been a lifelong Floridian. In 7-on-7 drills in the fieldhouse (due to thunderstorms passing through the area), Tebow threw a pass over the middle. Bell, still wearing his familiar No. 37, opened his arms and closed them around the ball for an interception.
It’s only one throw and catch during a May practice so we can’t read a whole lot into the play. But Bell, who’s been known to be a tackling machine after four straight 100-tackle seasons in the Miami secondary, is eager to show he can patrol the deep middle as well.
“I think I’m both,” the well-built 6’0″, 205-pounder said of how he can play the position. “In Miami I was more of a box player, required more to tackle than in coverage. Here it’s a mixture. And I’m really looking forward to coming back and playing in coverage. There’s going to be a lot more opportunities, and hopefully a lot more interceptions.”
That’s because Bell noted the “special guys we have on the outside” in his new secondary, such as Darrelle Revis, Antonio Cromartie and Kyle Wilson.
“In Miami we had a bunch of young cornerbacks I had to stay on top of,” he said. “Here, they’re telling me what to do out there.”
How the safety spot will shake out with holdovers Eric Smith and Tracy Wilson, unrestricted free agent LaRon Landry (not at the OTA), and draft picks Josh Bush and Antonio Allen remains to be seen.
“The thing about LaRon, obviously he had a significant injury, no question about that,” Ryan said at his news conference this afternoon. “But we’re excited to get him up to speed. Hopefully by training camp he’ll be ready to go. I’m not sure medically when he’ll be cleared but certainly he has the physical attributes you look for and that’ll be exciting to get out there.
“But right now I’m really excited with Yeremiah Bell and Eric Smith out there. Yeremiah had one day [of practice], not even. Dennis [Thurman]‘s sitting back there saying, ‘I’ll make sure you’re getting it all in there,’ and Bell says, ‘No, please, don’t. Eric and I will handle it.’ That’s really exciting to see. Yeremiah’s an outstanding player so I like the looks of the first group with Yeremiah and Eric.”
As far as holding that starting role when Landry returns, Bell said that in coming to the Jets, “That wasn’t a factor. I want to come in and earn my position. At the same time, I want to come in and compete.”
And one more thing from Bell for the future: “I can tell you I’m looking forward to playing the Dolphins.”
Two Early Spotlights
Ryan opened his news conference by talking about two players he’s “really excited about.” Both are defensive players, one who’s been around the block a few times and another who’s entering his second season — linebacker Bart Scott and end Muhammad Wilkerson.
“Bart’s ready to be Bart Scott,” Ryan said. “I think Bart would tell you he had kind of a disappointing season last year, just like I would tell you I had a disappointing season last year. But he’s had a great offseason. The fighting spirit Bart has, you really see it out there. It’s evident. So he’s a guy that’s jumping out at me.”
As for Wilkerson, Ryan said, “This guy’s going to write his own ticket. You see the jump he’s making. The great ones challenge themselves every day. Darrelle Revis is a perfect example. He’s trying to get better every single day, even though he’s at the top. Muhammad Wilkerson had a fine first year and he’s taken off from there. It’s exciting for a coach to see that.”
Ryan took the Jets’ OTA practice indoors after the lightning siren on top of the building sounded a warning as storms passed through the North Jersey area. Indoors, Sanchez was on target in 7-on-7 drills, hitting Jeremy Kerley (twice), Dustin Keller and Chaz Schilens.
“Sanchez is throwing the ball really well. He’s got a live arm with a lot of zip on it,” Ryan noted.
Then Tebow came in to hit WR Patrick Turner on the skinny post but followed that with interceptions to Scott in the short zone and Bell deeper over the middle.
“You make bad plays, you put that behind you and move on. I feel that’s what I did,” Tebow said with his unfailing smile. “Those were good plays by Yeremiah and Bart. I’m sure I’ll hear a lot about it from Bart.”
Others not at practice besides Landry were Cromartie and WR Santonio Holmes. Cro and Tone were both excused for personal reasons. Also, LB David Harris was sidelined with “a little bit of a calf strain.”
Meanwhile, making his first appearance in a Jets uniform was fullback Fui Vakapuna, signed Wednesday.
And on the sidelines for the second day of were Urban Meyer and his Ohio State coaching staff. Obviously Meyer and his coaches with Florida connections renewed acquaintances with Tebow. But Everett Withers, the Buckeyes’ assistant HC and co-defensive coordinator, was one of top draft pick Quinton Coples’ interim head coach at North Carolina last season.
OTAs continue with three practices in each of the next two weeks, followed by the full-squad minicamp in mid-June.
Tags: Bart Scott, Jason Taylor, Mark Sanchez, Muhammad Wilkerson, Quinton Coples, Rex Ryan, Tim Tebow, Urban Meyer, Yeremiah Bell
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