<span> Mental preparation is the theme of Saints running back Mike Bell's offseason.
Entering his fourth season in the NFL, Bell is known for his physical style of running and his outstanding rookie year with the Denver Broncos. However, since his rookie campaign, Bell has not produced another big season carrying the ball. "Since my rookie year, I haven't had to carry the load," Bell says. "Whether it was because I was moved to fullback or issues with a coach or injury, I haven't had that kind of season."
However, Bell sees his lack of carries as a positive for the upcoming season. "The fact that I haven't played that much," Bell continues, "means that I am very fresh coming into this season. So, even for a guy with my physical style, it's like I'm a second-year back rather than a fourth."
Bell's freshness is just one of the reasons he has so much confidence in himself physically. "I'm feeling great physically," Bell says. "I'm in great shape, and I've been working out hard in the weight room. I'm also working with a chiropractor and doing a lot of pre-hab. It's a blessing that I'm still this healthy in camp, but if I feel any sort of tweak, I call the chiropractor to get it worked out."
However, he doesn't think that his physical preparation is going to be the key to his success this season. Instead, Bell's physical confidence allows him to focus much of his attention to the mental aspects of the game.
"This off-season I prepared myself much more mentally than physically," Bell says. "The key for me is going to be mentally tough throughout the season. I know I have the physical tools, so I just need to keep mentally focused throughout the season."
Bell is staying mentally focused by only thinking about immediate goals rather than setting goals for the whole season. "I am just focused on making the team right now," Bell continues. "I'm a short-term goals guy, so I put all of my focus on what I'm working on at that time. If I stay focused on what's directly ahead of me, the rest will work itself out."
A large part of the mental focus for Bell is his preparation off the field that will help his play on the field. "I'm working hard just to understand the game, especially because this offense is so complex," Bell says. "It'll help to slow the game down so I can play even better. In this offense, it's best for me to know where everyone is at all times whether it's a carry, blitz pick-up, or running a route."
However, Bell's mental focus is more than understanding the offense, but being more mentally tough as well. "I need to be better at letting go of my mistakes," Bell says. "When I make a mistake, I need to learn from it and fix the mistake, but I need to not harp on it. I need to be able to move on during the game, so that it's not bothering me while I play."
Bell believes that his mental preparation will allow him to pound the defense, which is what he does best. "I want to wear down the defense with my physical running," Bell says. "I love contact. I am never going to shy away from contact. I want to tire out the defense by constantly coming at them, which will allow Pierre Thomas and Reggie Bush to break an 80 yard run."
Bell pledges to Saints' fans this season that while he will play smartly, his physicality will not be affected. "I still plan on being relentless," Bell says. "I'm going to play like a chicken with its head cut off. Lawrence Taylor said like a crazed dog."