Ah Kenny Bell. He of the amazing afro and even more thrilling quickness. The underwear practice MVP. All off-season during OTA's and minicamp, he tantalizes you with his skillset. The kid has some God-given ability, there's no denying it.
But then the pads come on and Bell disappears.
It happened last off-season. Bell, before suffering an injury and being stashed on IR, was in danger of being cut. While other players like Dontae Dye and Adam Humphries were taking advantage of their opportunities in the pre-season, Bell was a ghost.
Disturbingly, it seems to be happening again, and new Bucs coach Dirk Koetter has taken notice.
"You take a guy like Kenny Bell – two days ago looked like the MVP, then he disappeared yesterday," the head coach told reporters a couple days ago.
Bell hasn't really reappeared yet. Those fancy splash plays we were seeing in padless practices haven't shown up when the fire is decidedly not friendly.
If Bell turns in another pre-season like he did last year, could the Bucs give up on him or place him on the vulnerable practice squad?
One has to wonder. The Bucs are likely to keep six wideouts on the 53. Vincent Jackson and Mike Evans take up the top two slots and yesterday Koetter named Adam Humphries the slot (number 3) receiver. Russell Shepard has always been counted out but makes this team every year based on his special teams contributions (and even he has been making more plays the past two padded practices than Bell). Bell's path could be special teams, like Shepard, as he is auditioning to be Tampa Bay's return man. That job, too, is filled with competition.
So really, you have two spots for Bell, Evan Spencer, Jonathan Krause (who Koetter has named dropped two days in a row), Dontae Dye, Bernard Reddy and Freddie Martino are fighting for. Oh and don't forget veteran Louis Murphy, whose return would add to an even more crowded field.
Rumors are still swirling out there about Roddy White, too, although one has to believe if the Bucs truly had any interest in White, he'd already be here. White may be on the Bucs' emergency call list if something were to happen to Evans or Jackson, but nothing more than that.
Kenny Bell seems like a great kid with a terrific personality. He appears to be a hard worker with some solid skills to be a contributor for the Bucs this season. Tampa Bay can't carry him forever on the promise of his blooming into a threat. At some point, Bell has to contribute when the pads are on or the Bucs will move on to someone who does.
Hopefully for the Bucs it happens. Kenny Bell making plays in pads like he does out them would be a big boost.