Bell Settled in St. Louis
Thursday, August 7, 2008
By Nick Wagoner
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Before Jacob Bell could even get settled back in his former home, he could hear it.
It was the sound of Kevin Mawae, the Tennessee Titans’ starting center and resident wiseacre. As Bell went through stretching exercises with the rest of his new Rams teammates, Mawae was causing a stir a field away.
‘Stop slacking, Bell,’ or ‘Get in gear 63,’ were just a couple of examples of the ammunition Mawae threw at his former teammate.
To Bell, Mawae’s taunts were nothing new.
“He’s always yelling,” Bell said. “He’s yelling at me in my dreams. He’s one of my good buddies, we kept in contact and it was good to see him out there.”
This week represents a homecoming for Bell, who was one of the Rams’ biggest offseason acquisitions. After spending his first four NFL seasons with the Titans, Bell signed a six-year, $36 million contract with the Rams on March 4.
Soon after, the Rams installed Bell as the starting left guard and the offensive line went to work on gaining traction.
Bell’s return to Tennessee this week brings back plenty of memories, not the least of which includes a chance to reunite with many of the players who helped make him among the most highly compensated interior linemen in the league.
Mawae, for instance, is one player Bell cites as a serious influence on turning Bell from fifth-round draft choice to highly-regarded lineman. Mawae is entering his 16th season in the league and helped show Bell the ropes of the game from the moment he entered the league.
“He’s just about seen it all,” Bell said. “He has definitely learned a lot and wanted to teach me everything he knows. So I listened with open ears. Everything there is to know, technique to the way you talk to people and getting to know referees and stuff like that.”
Bell’s introduction to the NFL wasn’t limited to a player lining up next to him, though. Bell is taking advantage of the chance to get re-acquainted with the player who he squared off against in practice for most of his time with the Titans.
Tennessee defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth has tormented opponents for most of his career and became an All Pro performer in 2007. Bell became used to facing Haynesworth every day in practice and renewed that rivalry in practice this week.
While Haynesworth is widely considered one of the top tackles in the game, Bell more than held his own in one on one drills.
“Albert is a Pro Bowl quality player,” Bell said. “I played against him and was fortunate enough to go against him for four seasons. I learned a lot going against him and he helped me become a better player.”
Bell admittedly got off to a slow start in this year’s training camp but has turned it on in recent days as he gets more accustomed to his teammates and the new system.
While there has been some uncertainty among the rest of the interior offensive line because of injuries to Brett Romberg and Mark Setterstrom, Bell has been the one constant inside. So far, he’s taken every first team repetition at left guard and has provided the Rams exactly what they expected when they signed him.
“I think he’s done very well,” coach Scott Linehan said. “This is a new system, different than the one he ran here. He’s getting better and better. He brings experience to our group, a guy that has been playing and starting for three some odd years and played very well for his previous team. He’s back out here doing a very good job. He’s having a good camp. I think he’s one of those guys that I have noticed of the guys that we brought here that really works hard and improves every day.”
That effort level and production were the main reasons the Titans were sorry to see him go. When Bell hit free agency, Tennessee made it clear they wanted to re-sign him. But Bell was advised to hit the market and see what he can get.
Ultimately Bell opted for the Rams and the Titans settled for signing former Indianapolis guard Jake Scott.
“We were very much interested in re-signing him,” Tennessee coach Jeff Fisher said. “We made a very concerted effort to try and get him back under contract. It just didn’t work out. We’re happy for Jacob.”
Bell's return to Tennessee brought excitement for his teammates as well. Wednesday’s morning practice featured plenty of skirmishes as both teams lined up across from a different colored uniform for the first time this preseason.
Bell didn’t ignite any of those battles though he was able to at least remember which side he was on when those fights broke out.
Although Bell admits to having great memories in Tennessee, he says he couldn’t be happier with his new situation.
“It's been everything I wanted it to be," Bell said. "It's kind of crazy coming back being in another uniform but it felt good to see some old faces. You get out of it what you put into it, and they’ve been real welcoming to me.
Re: Bell Settled in St. Louis
I think Jacob secretly hates Kevin Mawae. Thats just my 2 cents