Byron Bell: "I'll play wherever they want me to"


NASHVILLE, Tenn. —Titans offensive lineman Byron Bell hasn't met running back DeMarco Murray, but he's admired him from afar.

"He is a quality back, and he is very explosive,'' Bell said of Murray, the NFL's Offensive Player of the Year in 2014 who joined the Titans earlier this month via trade. "He can make something out of nothing. He is not going sideways, he is going downhill, squaring linebackers up. I think that was a big pick-up. He will help Marcus (Mariota) as well."

Bell is also familiar with new Titans offensive line coach Russ Grimm, as well as offensive lineman Ben Jones, the former Texans center who signed with the Titans last week. Jones is known for being a hard-nosed competitor, and for also being a character with an appetite for taking on dares. He's built a reputation for being a guy who will eat – or drink -- just about anything.

"I am excited to meet coach Grimm,'' Bell said. "He's a Hall of Famer who played on one of the best offensive lines in NFL history. A guy like that, you look forward to soaking up some of his knowledge."

Bell said Jones sounds like his kind of guy.

"I've heard about him, that he drinks his own urine,'' Bell said with a smile. "I feel like he's probably a fun guy to be around. I'm happy we got him and I can't wait to meet him. I won't drink my own urine, but I'll probably eat a roach or two with him. If it's edible I'm usually good with it."

Bell will be around all of them, of course.

On Thursday, the Titans and Bell agreed to terms on a new, one-year contract.  Bell started all 16 games for the Titans in 2015 -- seven games at left guard, eight games at right tackle and then started the final game of the season at left tackle in place of an injured Taylor Lewan.

"I wanted to come back,'' Bell said after signing the deal on Friday. "I had the opportunity to explore other teams, I had visits set up, but I never took them…. I never wanted to go anywhere else. We got it done, so I am happy to be back."

So where will Bell play?

Bell was the only Titans offensive lineman to start all 16 games in 2015. For his career, he has 48 starts at right tackle, 16 at left tackle, seven at left guard and one at right guard.

"He'll probably play right tackle for us now, but he is a guy that has versatility,'' Titans general manager Jon Robinson said. "You could see that last year, he moved around and played a lot of spots, from game to game, and then within games where he would move from right tackle to left tackle and then kick in at guard. I think his versatility to slide from one position to another position -- that is what we are looking for in offensive lineman, guys who can play in more than one spot." looks at the 2015 season of OL Byron Bell. (AP Photos)

Bell knows the deal came with no promises of a starting job. It's still early in the offseason, and the NFL Draft has plenty of top-flight prospects at tackle, starting with Laremy Tunsil (Ole Miss) and Ronnie Stanley (Notre Dame).

Bell, who played his first four NFL seasons with the Panthers, said he'll to put himself in a position to help the team this fall, no matter where he lines up. In his first five seasons, Bell has played in 78 career games, with 72 starts.

"The right tackle spot, I can compete for that job, or compete for the left guard spot,'' Bell said. 'Wherever they think is the best fit for me, I'll do it. Or being the sixth man, jumbo packages, wherever I fit in.

"Hey, if they want me to play guard I'll play it. If they want me to play tackle I'll do it. If they want me to be a practice dummy I'll do it. I came into this league undrafted and I know what it takes to get to where I am. I am going to work hard and be ready to help this team no matter where I line up. I just want to play football."

Offensive Lineman Byron Bell signs his contract at Saint Thomas Sports Park. (Photos: Jeff Harding)

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