FILE - In this Dec. 6, 2015 file photo, New York Jets running back Bilal Powell (29) runs for a touchdown after catching a pass during the first half of an NFL football game against the New York Giants, in East Rutherford, N.J. Powell speaks barely above
Julie Jacobson, File
December 11, 2015

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (AP) Bilal Powell speaks barely above a whisper at times, as soft-spoken a player there might be in the NFL.

It's not a knock on the New York Jets running back. He's just not the loud, look-at-me type. Powell is a humble, religious guy who usually deflects attention from himself.

So, when he celebrated his 25-yard touchdown catch against the Giants last Sunday by looking up to the sky with outstretched arms and briefly taking a knee in the end zone, it was a rare display of emotion for Powell.

''I was just giving glory to my God,'' Powell explained Friday. ''I was just excited to be back and just excited to be a part of a big win.''

Powell was a huge part of the Jets' 23-20 overtime victory at MetLife Stadium. He had eight catches for 91 yards and the score, and rushed six times for 17 yards while creating some mismatches throughout the game.

His 112 yards after catch marked the fourth time in the last 20 years that a Jets player had 100 or more in a game, according to the team website. Powell joined LaDainian Tomlinson (2011), Leon Washington (2006) and Keyshawn Johnson (1999) in accomplishing the feat.

''I mean, he's just a great football player,'' quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick said. ''I think the last few weeks he's really showed it, just in terms of (being) just a real reliable guy. He's got great hands, great vision.''

On the touchdown in the second quarter, Powell took a short pass from Fitzpatrick, cut through the middle of the field, got a few blocks and zipped into the end zone for the first receiving score of his NFL career.

''He's kind of a jack-of-all-trades,'' coach Todd Bowles said. ''He can do a little bit of everything, and he's quick and he's explosive when he gets the ball in his hands.''

Working mainly as Chris Ivory's backup, Powell missed four games earlier this season because of a high ankle sprain. He appears to be completely healthy now, if the run on the TD was any indication.

''It's good to have his quickness back,'' Bowles said. ''When he got injured, he wasn't as full speed as he is now. ... He's a good change of pace for us and he's given us a big boost.''

Powell, a fourth-round draft pick out of Louisville in 2011, was re-signed in the offseason to a one-year deal. His role wasn't immediately clear, especially with Ivory, Zac Stacy and Stevan Ridley also on the roster. But, Ridley was coming off a serious knee injury from last year and wasn't activated from injured reserve until midway through the season. Stacy was used sparingly until he broke an ankle against Buffalo last month.

Meanwhile, Powell ranks third on the Jets with 30 receptions for 254 yards and a TD, and is third in rushing behind Ivory and Fitzpatrick with 196 yards on 54 carries. That's even with missing those four games.

Powell's role diminished last season as a backup to Ivory and Chris Johnson in Marty Mornhinweg's offense. New offensive coordinator Chan Gailey acknowledged he wasn't aware of Powell's skills when he first joined Bowles' coaching staff.

''But when I watched the tape, I was glad we signed him back,'' Gailey said. ''I thought that he was a guy that we needed to have in our offensive scheme.''

Powell's pass blocking has always been an asset. He regularly studies opposing linebackers who usually weigh quite a bit more than the 204 pounds he packs on his 5-foot-10 frame. It's about using the right leverage, being able to knock a defender off his balance.

''The No. 1 thing about pass blocking is having the will to do it,'' Powell said. ''I think that's one of the most important things now with the league turning into a passing league.''

As a rookie, Powell spent a lot of time with Tomlinson, who was playing the last of his two seasons with the Jets before retiring. Tomlinson helped teach him about pass blocking and being versatile, something running backs coach Anthony Lynn also instilled in Powell.

''If you don't block, you don't play,'' Powell said. ''I want to play, whether it's blocking, passing, running, whatever.''

Quiet. Except on the field.

''Everybody wants to be an all-purpose guy,'' Powell said. ''That's something you want to be known for, as a complete back in the league. ... I just try to take full advantage of every opportunity.''


AP NFL website: and

You May Like