FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — After spending eight seasons with the Miami Dolphins, four of which were under then-head coach Tony Sparano, Yeremiah Bell is happy to feel wanted by his team.
“When I visited here, they made me feel like I would be welcomed here. They took a big interest in me and it seemed like they really wanted me here. Taking input from Coach Sparano [was helpful]. Just him telling me what kind of system he thought I’d be successful in and things like that,” Bell said Thursday afternoon.
Bell was signed by the Jets last week shortly after the Dolphins released their former defensive captain and four-time leading tackler in an effort to not pay him his $6.2 million.
When asked about joining the other part of the historic rivalry Bell would only say that he’s “looking forward to playing the Dolphins”.
Looking forward to his new team, however, Bell offered high praise to the man he’ll presumably be taking the starting safety job from, Eric Smith.
“E-Smitty — that’s my guy. He’s awesome right now. He’s telling me what to do. He keeps quizzing me on every play, even when we’re on the sidelines. He’s been a great help for me,” he said.
The Jets also signed safety LaRon Landry, who is recovering from an Achilles’ injury, to seemingly pair off with Bell as the team’s starting safeties. According to Bell, there will be no “free” and “strong” safety labels on whomever is back there.
“In this system I think both safeties will play both sides. I don’t think there’s really a strong or a free safety,” he said.
Only three days into OTAs with his new team, Bell has already impressed — picking off a errant Tim Tebow throw in which he stated he caught Tebow “watching” his receiver and got in for a would-be sack a few plays later.
Freedom to rush the passer and leaning on veteran All-Pro players like Darrelle Revis as he takes this time to adjust to a new system is something he’s embracing.
“I’m already seeing first hand why he’s the best cornerback in the game. He’s a guy who you don’t have to tell him what to do or where to be. He knows how to play the game. It’s different coming from Miami – who had a lot of young corners that I had to stay on top of,” he said.
While citing his need to study up on the playbook, he envisions himself being a play maker in this defense.
“I see myself as a playmaker and a big contributor to this defense. I think I’m a real good fit. That was a huge factor for me. I know how good this defense is since Rex has been here. He’s a defensive guru. As a defensive player, you want to play for a coach like that,” he said.