Kenny Bell missed all of the last season with a pretty bad hamstring injury. Although he was redshirted, that did not stop him from coming to player meetings or appearing at practices, he also studied the Buccaneers’ playbook and watched all the film he could. Afro Thunder was not going to give up on life or his career, simply because he pulled his hammy.
Now it’s 2016 and Bell is healthy and turning heads during the team’s offseason activities. He is happy to be back, and his goal is making the team, and helping the Bucs to be a better organization. If he gets to wow the coaches on the way to earning that third receiver spot then so-be-it, but he is more interested in making the team and really doesn’t care where he plays as long as he is a Buccaneers player by the beginning of the regular season. “Any time you talk about stepping out here and competing with guys of this caliber, that’s not just Hump and DD (Donteea Dye), that’s everybody that’s on the field. I’m trying to make this team, whether it’s playing wide receiver, returning kicks or playing gunner, really anything I can do to get on the field and help this organization, that’s what I’m interested in doing. So it’s hard for me to say, ‘Yeah, DD and Hump are my competition.’ Those guys are in my room, so we’re going to compete hard against each other regardless. But really I’m just interested in making this team and making us a better organization.”
Kenny Bell finished his college career as Nebraska’s all-time leading receiver and finished with 2,689 yards on 181 receptions and scored 21 touchdowns. Before he was injured last season, he stood out as one of training camp’s most promising rookies receivers. And this year seems to follow last season’s theme as Kenny Bell seems to be standing out once again. Dirk Koetter liked what he saw in Bell last offseason, and likes what he is seeing again this year. “Kenny has a little extra gear that some other guys don’t have.We really like what we see from Kenny.”
Bell is just thankful to be back out on the field, he understands that Tampa did not have to keep him on the team after he sustained a season-ending hamstring injury as a rookie. However, he took full advantage of his downtime in preparing himself for this upcoming season. The coaches have plenty of faith in Bell, and that may be one of the main factors in why Tampa did not go speed receiver in the 2016 NFL draft.
“I couldn’t be more thankful to be out here. I’m just excited anxious with how much time really passed before I got to strap a lid on and get after it. I mean, it felt good to be back out here. As far as understanding the system and how things work it’s a whole new level as far as comprehending everything that’s going on just because you know, I was lucky I was kept around last year. But mentality-wise, as far as attacking the game and trying to make this team, it might multiply ten-fold.”
Bell could be a big part of Tampa’s receiving plans this season, but he could also factor in as a special teams player, whether he returns kicks or punts or covers kicks or punts, he’s done it all and done it fairly well, which bodes well for the young man in his attempt to make this year’s 53 man roster. I look forward to seeing him on the field this season and have high hopes for the Nebraska Cornhuskers standout. He could be one of the many sleepers to emerge on this young Tampa Bay Buccaneers football team.