Kendrell Bell Just Needs to Land on September 11th

Will he or won't he play? That's the biggest question surrounding the Kansas City Chiefs as they put the final touches on preparation for their preseason game against the Seattle Seahawks. Linebacker Kendrell Bell's flirtation for live action is still a hot topic. At the end of the day, as long as he lines up against the New York Jets in the season opener, the debate has little significance.

After flirting with linebacker Ed Hartwell in March, Kansas City Chiefs moved quickly to secure another one-of-a-kind linebacker. When contract talks stalled between Kendrell Bell and the New York Giants on a long-term deal, the hometown Chiefs quickly moved in and made an offer to land the former Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker.

From the moment he signed with Kansas City all anyone wanted to talk about was his injuries. Bell told reporters when he signed his contract that he was 100 percent and could play in March if need be. Still the press was relentless, and news that he might not play against the Seattle Seahawks on Saturday night fueled more rumors that he's still not healthy enough to play. But is that accurate when you consider he's been on the field for most of the OTA's and mini-camps? Bell has actually missed very few sessions.

In training camp, he's been on the field running, cutting and hitting. He's been involved in some contact drills. Granted he's not in all of them but enough to show me that he's confident he can play. On Wednesday, he played on the first team defense and showed flashes of the speed and dominance Chiefs fans can expect this season from one of the game's premier linebackers.

Still the debate rages. His head coach believes that he'll be ready to get on the field, but those opinions waver depending on the day. On Tuesday, Bell was going to play Saturday Night against the Seahawks. Now he might not play at all in the preseason.

"I expect him to, but we're not going to put him out there unless he's really ready. We brought him here to play and made a real commitment to him," Vermeil said.

Bell knows that and nobody wants to get on the field more than he does. But it's not all up to him. According to Bell, he's ready to play football but the Chiefs, who have invested a lot of money in him, believe he's not quite ready to strut his stuff against other NFL teams.

"A player knows when he's really ready and when he's not ready. Yesterday he jumped in there and he flashed around. You could see it. He has movement just like Derrick Johnson does and those guys are rare," Vermeil said. "But he showed some signs of not really wanting to use everything yet, just turn himself loose into the contact area. When we put him in the ballgame, we want him to do that."

At the other end of the spectrum, Bell knows all he can do is practice every day. "It's for the best. All I'm concerned about is September 11th. Practice is enough. We'll see what coach (Vermeil) decides to do. People assume certain things can't be done," Bell said.

Now those comments can be taken a couple of ways. Either Bell is ready to play and the Chiefs don't want to risk any further injuries, or Bell is not ready to play and he's dancing around the issue that he'll be ready September 11th.

Bell correct that practice is enough. This tirade won't turn into a debate about the lack of importance of four preseason games because these players come to camp in shape and they work hard. Bell has done just that. His speed is amazing and he looks strong. He doesn't need to suit up against the Seahawks this week or the Rams a week from now to show anymore than he's already done this offseason. It's irrelevant as long as he keeps practicing and he's ready to take on the New York Jets two weeks from Sunday.

That's all that matters, and Vermeil knows it. "We just want to make sure he's 100 percent ready in his own mind as well as physically."

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