Bell, in his first face-to-face session with reporters since signing a four-year, $52 million contract in March, insisted Tuesday that recent reports regarding Gase's negative feelings about the signing of Bell as a free agent haven't damaged their rapport.
"This is a business," said Bell, who reported to the team and participated in its first minicamp practice after skipping the voluntary portion of the offseason. "Even if the report was true, obviously he doesn't feel like I'm not a great player.
"Maybe he just feels like, 'Dang, maybe we could've got more great players.' I don't know. What I'm saying is, me and him, our relationship is great."
It was widely reported last month, when general manager Mike Maccagnan was fired, that Gase wasn't a proponent of signing Bell. The main issue, sources said, was the price tag -- $13 million per year, second only to Todd Gurley among running backs.
The Gase-Maccagnan disagreement over Bell is one of the factors that led to Maccagnan's ouster, sources said.
Bell, who spent the past few months working with a personal trainer in South Florida, said he and Gase have communicated throughout the offseason. Bell sends him video of his workouts, and Gase sends Bell cut-ups of the Jets' practices.
"There have been false reports about me, so I don't really buy into reports," Bell said. "I talk to him. He tells me what's going on. The communication is there, that's all that matters."
Bell was in a giddy mood after his first football practice since January 2018, when he played his last game for the Pittsburgh Steelers. After a 17-month layoff, he looked rusty and tentative in the mandatory practice. He took only seven reps -- four in the 11-on-11 period, three in 7-on-7 drills. He carried the ball three times and was targeted once -- a pass that went off his fingertips.
He acknowledged the obvious, saying he's behind the rest of his teammates. Bell didn't care; he was just happy to be in a team setting again.
"This felt so good, not doing it for a year and things like that," said Bell, who sat out last season in a contract dispute with the Steelers. "I'm excited.
"It was amazing, just running around and being able to trash-talk and catch some balls and just sweat in your helmet and things we take for granted when you're playing. To have that whole year off, and to come out here and play football again, it felt so good."
Bell was mostly an observer, standing off to the side with the quarterbacks so he could hear the playcall when it was sent in. He raised the energy level at practice, according to some players. He also raised the decibel level with his trash-talking.
Gase, who has big plans for Bell in his offense, said they won't give him a heavy workload this week. He, too, said his relationship with Bell is solid, adding that they will rely on two-way communication to figure out the best ways to use him.
Bell actually believes he could be more productive in New York than Pittsburgh, which will be difficult. He amassed nearly 8,000 yards from scrimmage in five seasons, with a career-high 406 touches for 1,946 yards in 2017.
He said Gase's system will provide "a lot of opportunities I've never really had before."
Bell also spoke highly of second-year quarterback Sam Darnold.
"Sam is going to make me a better player, just because of the fact that he's so mobile," said Bell, who spent the first five years of his career playing with future Hall of Famer Ben Roethlisberger. "He's going to create opportunities I wouldn't usually have. Same thing for me. I'm going to make opportunities for him that he's never had before, too. We'll bounce off each other. We'll be a special duo in the backfield."