PHILADELPHIA — After winning a Super Bowl with the Saints last season, Mike Bell signed with the Eagles in March as a restricted free agent. Bell gained 654 yards and five touchdowns with the Saints in 2009, sharing time in the backfield with Pierre Thomas and Reggie Bush. Bell envisions a larger role with the Eagles in 2010 as the primary backup to LeSean McCoy.
Sporting News’ Clifton Brown recently spoke with Bell to discuss his quest to win back-to-back Super Bowls with two different teams.
SN: Did you anticipate leaving the Saints so quickly after winning a Super Bowl with them?
Mike Bell: Not in a million years. It’s been a blessing in disguise. [Philadephia’s] an ideal offense for me, the kind I’ve always wanted to play in. My whole career, everybody has had an idea of what I can do. I’ve been stereotyped as being a guy who can only run the ball in short yardage. That’s not what type of back I was in college or even in my first year at Denver. Being here gives me an opportunity to catch some balls and open up my game. In New Orleans, having guys like Reggie and Pierre, they definitely didn’t need me running any routes.
SN: Are you surprised Eagles coach Andy Reid showed interest in you?
MB: I didn’t think the Eagles would be looking at a guy like me. I thought they wanted a guy more like Reggie Bush, a real shifty type guy. I take it as a compliment that they thought I can have a role.
SN: Some people expect the Eagles to take a step back this season. Do you still view them as Super Bowl contenders?
MB: It’s definitely achievable. Winning a Super Bowl makes you realize that it’s not about you. I always went into training camp worried about getting the starting job, and that kind of thinking makes you selfish. But in New Orleans, coach (Sean) Payton used everybody. It almost made me lose self or at least stopped me from thinking about myself. Just do what’s best for the team. Being here, I can see they’re already on that page.
SN: Age always is a concern with running backs and you turned 27 in April. How much do your legs have left?
MB: I’m fresh. I’ve had no major injuries, no surgeries. I’m back to my college weight, a little under 220 pounds. I’m ready to go.
SN: How similar is the Eagles’ offense to the Saints’ system?
MB: I have been with five different teams (including college), so I’ve had to learn five different offenses. But this offense is fun. It’s similar to New Orleans in the fact they like to throw the ball vertically. But it’s also a little different. The coaches here do a great job of explaining it.
SN: The Eagles made a major offseason change, trading Donovan McNabb to the Redskins, and elevating Kevin Kolb to starting quarterback. What did you see from Kolb during spring practices?
MB: He’s got a big arm and a great release. I don’t know much about quarterback (mechanics), but that release is up there with the best of them.
SN: Are you concerned about the personnel changes, with the Eagles losing long-time fixtures like McNabb and Brian Westbrook?
MB: In the NFL, you have to look at change as a positive. We lost a lot of good players, but you have to move on, continue to try and get a better. That’s not to take away from any of those players. But this is a business. Coaches want new things and new attitudes, and you have to respect the decisions they make, especially when they’re in the playoffs year after year.
SN: The Eagles’ roster is considerably younger than last season. Is that a good thing?
MB: It reminds me of when I was in high school. A really young team with a lot of excitement. A lot of guys talking, running their mouths.
SN: How difficult was it to leave New Orleans so soon after winning the Super Bowl?
MB: It was tough. I didn’t even get to enjoy my time with my teammates fully, to experience all of the things they did after winning the Super Bowl this offseason. But the fact I’m still in the NFL is a blessing, especially with a contending team. Having an opportunity to get another ring makes me excited.
Clifton Brown is a writer for Sporting News. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.