After spending his rookie season recovering from a hamstring injury sustained in training camp, wide receiver Kenny Bell will have a chance to make an impact this fall as the Buccaneers continue to build their receiving corps for the future.
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The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are building their future around quarterback Jameis Winston, which should make his receiving corps one of the team’s top priorities. Apart from the top two receivers, Mike Evans and Vincent Jackson, the rest of the group is seemingly wide open. With this year’s draft passing without Tampa Bay selecting a wide receiver, it appears the remaining spots will be filled with in-house options. With that in mind, look no further than second-year receiver Kenny Bell.
Despite missing all of last season after sustaining a hamstring injury in August, the 2015 fifth-round pick remains an intriguing option for the Bucs as they try to build their offense for the future. Bell will presumably be competing this summer with Donteea Dye, Adam Humphries and Russell Shepard to be the team’s third receiver. Veteran Louis Murphy is also an option, but he is still recovering from a torn ACL.
Bell finished his four-year college career at Nebraska as the program’s all-time leading receiver, finishing with 2,689 yards on 181 receptions while scoring 21 touchdowns. Before his injury last year, he was one of the standout players in training camp.
“We really like what we see from Kenny,” Dirk Koetter said last summer, when he was entering his first season as the team’s offensive coordinator.
The 6-foot-1 receiver looked to have a solid connection with Winston throughout camp, but unfortunately, fans never got to see much of the connection. However, during the season, Bell stayed involved with the team and took the opportunity to learn Koetter’s playbook. He traveled with the team to road games, watching how things were done on a day-to-day basis in the NFL. That’s one reason that he is so intriguing for the Bucs this summer and into the fall. What he learned a year ago will be put to the test as he battles for a shot to make a big impact for Tampa Bay.
Bell could figure heavily into the Bucs’ plans as a receiver this fall, but he is also an option to help out on the return team. At Nebraska, he totaled 1,277 yards on 51 kickoff returns, which was good for an average of 25 yards per return. He also returned one kick for a touchdown.
With Evans and Jackson, as well as tight end Austin-Seferian Jenkins, Tampa Bay has a group of big targets for Winston to throw to. The Bucs still need more speed and Bell ran a 4.37 40-yard dash at the 2015 Combine, which means he certainly fits that need.
It seems like Bell was forgotten in the minds many fans last year, but as the team comes together this summer, he is someone to keep an eye on as Tampa Bay continues to build for the future.