Donteea Dye Jr., a wide receiver and the Bucs' front-runner to return kicks, was put on injury waivers Monday after suffering a hamstring strain.
Bell, who's in competition for the fifth receiver spot, had a shot at the kick returner job -- he did line up for the opening kickoff in Week 1 of the preseason -- but fumbled and hasn't gotten another chance since. With the final preseason exhibition game Wednesday night, and final roster spots usually dictated by who can play special teams, he's hoping he gets another shot.
"I hope so. I do believe that. I do believe I will," said Bell, who, didn't see a snap on special teams the following week. "It was tough, that Eagles game. It seems like forever ago now but obviously can't cough the first one up. Obviously, I would love a second chance. Haven't gotten one yet but definitely ready for that opportunity."
A fifth-round draft pick in 2015, Bell spent all of last year on injured reserve with a hamstring injury. He watched from the sidelines as injuries to Vincent Jackson and Louis Murphy depleted the Bucs' receiving corps, and as undrafted free agents Dye and Adam Humphries -- players with tougher odds to make the team -- saw valuable playing time. But Bell is grateful that he was there to soak it in and take those mental reps.
"I couldn't have been more involved with the team than last year in terms of everything we did," Bell said. "I was at meetings every morning, I was at practice, I attended everything that we did and I was blessed that they took me on the road."
Bell has often described himself as "anxious." He knows the way this stuff works. Fans are, too. With two big-bodied receivers in Jackson and Mike Evans, and Humphries locking down the slot role, there's been hope that Bell, with his 4.3 speed, could be the burner the offense has needed.
Early on in camp, it looked like things were headed that way, with Bell winning a lot of one-on-ones. But the pads came on, and Dye, Humphries and Evan Spencer seemed to pass him by.
Bell had one catch against the Cleveland Browns last week -- a 9-yard pass from Mike Glennon on third-and-2 in the third quarter. It's his only catch of the preseason, but as as head coach Dirk Koetter pointed out earlier this preseason, he has beaten his man several times and gotten open. With starters expected to sit Wednesday night, Bell should see his share of targets.
"It always helps knowing you're going to get more chances at it," Bell said. "If you have two opportunities and one's a catch and one's a contested catch, those stick out. If you get eight targets and you catch six of them, that's huge."
As far as special teams go, he's willing to do whatever to make the team, which does give him an advantage.
"I think anything I can do in a positive manner is a good way to get on the team," Bell said. "Whether it's gunning, covering kicks or returning them -- that's what I want to do. Going back to opportunities, how important this week is, [Wednesday] night is big."