ATLANTA – It was fourth down and three with 3 minutes and 43 seconds left in the second quarter as Jacksonville Jaguars punter Logan Cooke waited deep backfield for the ball to snap. Quinton Bell lined up far right before bursting off the line-of-scrimmage, putting on a swim move to shake off his defender and diving straight at the ball, blocking Cooke's punt that was recovered by DeAngelo Malone at the 1-yard line.
The outside linebacker couldn't contain his exhilaration after the recovery as he ran towards the Falcons sideline celebrating his first blocked punt of his NFL career.
"It felt amazing man," Bell said keenly. "I can't even explain it, it felt like a dream. It still doesn't feel real."
As the 53-man cut down date nears, Bell has made a strong case for a roster spot in a myriad of ways. His presence on special teams alone has been crucial in the Falcons success during the preseason. Not to mention that Bell moved from wide receiver to defensive end during his senior season at Prairie View A&M.
His arsenal as player has been on full display in the past month. He sees a clear opportunity to make the roster and knows that special teams coordinator Marquice Williams has placed him in the perfect position to do so.
"Got to get it. Effort, effort, effort. Special teams is a great way to make the roster and I'm taking full advantage of the opportunity," Bell said. "Coach Marquice put me in the right positions man, I'm just going hard."
Having five edge rushers could be a smart move for the Falcons being that the pass rush has been an area of focus heading into the season. Bell is a player who can play in various positions and succeed in each one of them. Homing in and improving on the defense side has been a hub for him as his progression continues to climb uphill.
"Every game, every practice we watch film and little bit of each part of my game, every part of my game so I've been continuing to try to improve my defensive plays as well as my special teams play," Bell said.
His approach in making the roster has been deliberate during training camp and preseason and we've seen that spill over into his play. His versatility propels his chances even more. Learning from veteran players like Lorenzo Carter and Cordarrelle Patterson, while grinding to make the roster has also been key in helping to develop his game even further.
"All my guys in my OLB really," Bell said. "Zo been in the league for some years and also on the team side too. You know, CP, Keith Smith, those older guys who have been doing that team stuff for a while. I pick their brain and they tell me to just go hard. Keep doing what I'm doing in practice and just keep working. This a great way to stay in the league for a long time."
Get an inside look at the matchup between the Atlanta Falcons and Jacksonville Jaguars in the second preseason game of 2022.