Bucs' Kenny Bell says there's no excuse for fumbling that kickoff
Having spent his rookie season on injured reserve, Kenny Bell waited a year to put his hands on the football. He didn’t hold onto it for long.
Bell fumbled the opening kickoff of the preseason against the Eagles when he was hit and stripped of the ball by Eagles linebacker Najee Goode and safety Chris Maragos recovered at the Tampa Bay 18 yard line.
Three plays later, including runs by running back Ryan Matthews of 10 and 5 yards, the Eagles were in the end zone.
“He got his hand on the ball but I’ve got to protect it a lot better,’’ Bell said. “We can sit here and talk about how I haven’t played, but at the end of the day, I affected the game in a very negative manner tonight and that’s just unacceptable. I can’t come out and put the rock on the ground like that. There’s no excuse for it.’’
Bell’s fumble was the first of five Bucs turnovers in a 17-9 loss to the Eagles to spoil the head coaching debut of Dirk Koetter.
Bell was replaced as the Bucs’ kick returner by Donteea Dye. He was targeted twice on offense but did not catch a pass.
“There’s a ton you can take from this,’’ Bell said. “I’m going to look at the positive. Obviously, I’m very upset about fumbling the ball. It hurt my team’s chances of winning the game. But we’ve got to stay positive because a lot of good things are happening for this team.’’
Quarterback Jameis Winston, whose first quarter fumble also led to a touchdown, said Bell would bounce back.
“I know Kenny is going to bounce back from that. That’s the least of my worries right now. Especially with Kenny Bell. That was my roommate last year. He has heart. I know he’s a fighter and we’re no even thinking about that. I’m trying to find ways to help myself out. I can’t fumble. I’m not Kenny, but I can’t put the ball on the ground.’’