- Matt Ehalt, ESPN New York contributor
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FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- The Jets waived linebacker Aaron Maybin on Tuesday to allow them to sign running back Kahlil Bell and give linebacker Ricky Sapp more opportunities, according to head coach Rex Ryan.
"I like Aaron," Ryan said. "I love the way he plays. He flies around, does a tremendous job on the practice field, everything. It's just numbers haven't been there this year for him."
Maybin revived his career in 2011, registering a team-high six sacks for the Jets after Buffalo released him. This year, he struggled to produce at that level -- he had four combined tackles and didn't record a sack in 119 defensive snaps. In the loss to the Seahawks, Maybin was a healthy scratch for the first time this year.
While the team waived Maybin, Ryan did not rule out a future return for the former first-rounder. Maybin's biggest moment of the season came when he said the defense would be targeting Miami running back Reggie Bush, only for him to be called out for a lack of playing time by Miami center Mike Pouncey.
In waiving Maybin, the team is giving Sapp a chance to showcase his talents. Sapp, a second-year linebacker out of Clemson, played in just his first game of the year Sunday after being on the practice squad for most of the year. He had one assisted tackle and played 13 defensive snaps.
"I'm just happy for the opportunity," Sapp said. "Definitely glad to be here. I'm so thankful that Rex and (GM) Mike (Tannenbaum) gave me this opportunity and chance and I'm just going to take it and run with it and try to help the team as much as possible."
Sapp said he doesn't believe there's any pressure on him knowing his play is part of the reason Maybin was waived. He said Maybin was one of the guys he looked up to, and he learned from him about how to approach games and how to bring intensity in practice.
Safety Yeremiah Bell was sad to see Maybin go but knows it's next man up.
"(Sapp's) going to have to come in and be that pass rusher everyone expects him to be," Bell said. "He does a great job in practice and Ricky is a guy once he gets some snaps on the field he'll do a great job. He's got an opportunity and I'm sure he's going to make the most of it."
The Jets signed Bell at a time when their running back situation is dicey. Two of their backs, Bilal Powell (concussion) and Joe McKnight (ankle), are dealing with injuries. McKnight, who missed last Sunday's game, did have a limited practice Wednesday, while Powell sat with the concussion he suffered vs. Seattle.
Bell, 25, played in two games this season for Chicago, rushing 12 times for 32 yards. He has 131 carries for 589 yards in his career, which had been exclusively with the Bears prior to this move.