Bell injured his left hamstring Sunday, and "we could be looking at a couple of weeks" with him on the sideline, coach Adam Gase said Monday. The Jets are prepared to start Frank Gore, 37, the NFL's third all-time leading rusher, on Sunday against the San Francisco 49ers. Gore is the 49ers' all-time leading rusher, having played with them from 2005 to 2014.
Gase was careful not to put an exact timetable on Bell's absence, perhaps because of a training-camp dispute over a hamstring injury. Bell called out Gase on Twitter after being removed from a scrimmage, and it led to a long sitdown between the coach and player.
"I just know what kind of shape he's in and his work ethic and the way that he finds ways to play through injury and how he bounces back," said Gase, backtracking a bit. "I just wouldn't be surprised if he came back quicker than anticipated.
"I don't want to put any kind of restrictions on him. Being a guy that's been around the league for quite a few years, some of these guys find a way to play through pain and play through injuries like this. I don't want to say a longer [timetable] and he's going, 'What are you putting me in a box for?'"
Bell was hurt in the second quarter of the Jets' 27-17 loss to the Buffalo Bills, but he stayed in the game for a few plays in the third quarter. Afterward, Gase publicly second-guessed himself, saying he was "mad" that he let Bell continue. He expressed that sentiment to Bell.
"We talked after the game," Gase said. "He knew how I felt."
Bell hasn't been made available to comment. The Jets are thin at running back, as the only other healthy player is La'Mical Perine, who is recovering from a sprained ankle and might not be ready for the 49ers. The Jets were dreadful Sunday with Bell, their best offensive player, so they could be hard-pressed to rally without him.
Bell's injury also hurts because the plan was to expand his role, using him more in the passing game than last season. When he went out Sunday, they lost "a pretty good chunk" of their game plan, Gase said.
Quarterback Sam Darnold struggled in the opener, admitting Monday, "My timing needs to be better. I did hurry some things. At the beginning of the game, I just have to relax, take a deep breath, ease myself into it and make the throws when they're there."
After three quarters, Darnold was only 12-for-23 for 165 yards and a horrible interception, with 69 yards coming on a screen pass to wide receiver Jamison Crowder that went for a touchdown. Gase, the playcaller, has come under fire, but he sidestepped the criticism.
Asked whether he would've done anything differently on Sunday, he replied, "With what they were calling defensively? No."
It seems like the Jets already have reached a pressure point in their season.
"We have to get everything figured out now," linebacker Jordan Jenkins said. "Otherwise, it's going to be loss after loss after loss. You've got to give yourself a chance here."
In other injury news, Blake Cashman (groin) is expected to miss multiple games, leaving only one healthy inside linebacker. They could elevate Alec Ogletree from the practice squad.