Jets’ Joe McKnight looking to establish himself in NFL

Joe McKnight is out to prove he can be more than a special teams player in the NFL. Credit: Getty Images
Joe McKnight is out to prove he can be more than a special teams player in the NFL.
Credit: Getty Images

After three years in the NFL as mostly a niche player, the best athlete on the Jets roster is out to prove he is a specialist no more – but not just by focusing on one position. Instead, Joe McKnight is out to prove that he can excel at them all.

This fourth year is a pivotal one for McKnight, who has earned a reputation as a special-teams maven while getting some limited snaps at running back the past three years. But for McKnight, who even played one game last year at cornerback when injuries decimated the Jets’ back end, this season is about showing he can bring value all over the field. At a point in his career when most players embrace specializing on one position, McKnight continues to embrace his versatility.

Despite his ability to play all over the field, he wants to be known first and foremost as a running back.

With Shonn Greene leaving the Jets via free agency earlier this offseason, there is no clear-cut starting running back to take most of the carries. The arrest of fellow running back Mike Goodson three weeks ago on drug possession and weapon charges, there is an opportunity for McKnight to earn more carries ahead of this week’s minicamp.

“Every day is a new tomorrow to go out there and prove myself. But I just want to make the team better, make myself better,” McKnight said. “If I do that, everything else will take care of itself. No matter the other circumstances or anything else. I have to focus on getting better every day.”

This offseason, McKnight worked on his carryover speed as he felt that he was good at being elusive and getting into the open field but couldn’t finish his runs, losing his strength as he ran down the field and failing to turn big runs into touchdowns. The potential is there for him to be a home run hitter for the Jets.

McKnight has yet to register a rushing or receiving touchdown in the NFL. That might change this year as the Jets have shifted from the “ground and pound” to an offense that seems tailor-made for him.

He possesses the kind of speed, shiftiness, footwork and hands that could make him perfect for Marty Mornhinweg’s West Coast offense. It is an offense McKnight knows well from his college days at USC.

In the West Coast offense, the running back needs to be versatile, which just happens to be McKnight’s middle name. Generally speaking, the West Coast offense calls for timing routes and short passes to systematically open things down the field for the deep pass or out patterns. McKnight’s skillset slides perfectly into what the running back is called to do in the offense.

He now needs to turn his fourth year in the NFL into one where he establishes himself as a key contributor and not just an intriguing athlete.

It is McKnight’s broad skillset that might keep him from being looked at as an every down back in the NFL. But the Jets’ “jack of all trades” doesn’t see his status as the athlete of the team hurting his value on the roster.

“I feel like the more the better. Being the best I can be is a good thing. Whatever coach wants from me, I will do it. If I can make this team [better] by helping out all over, then that is the best way to help the team,” McKnight said. “Versatility on a 53-man roster is never a bad thing and if I can help doing this, doing that — offense or special teams or defense — then I’ll do it.”

Jets notes …

» Jets have invited veteran free agent tight end Kellen Winslow, wide receiver Mike Sims-Walker and defensive lineman Leger Douzable to minicamp this week.

» In addition, undrafted rookie free agent tackle Mark Jackson and cornerback Mason Robinson have been invited to minicamp on a tryout basis. Robinson played at Rutgers and was a standout at rookie minicamp in May.

Follow Jets beat writer Kristian Dyer on Twitter @KristianRDyer. He will be live tweeting with updates and photos from minicamp all week.



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
International

Many deaths as boat with African emigrants sinks…

BENGHAZI Libya (Reuters) - A boat packed with up to 250 African emigrants trying to reach European shores sank on Sunday off the Libyan coast…

Local

State health department warns against rare respiratory virus…

The New York State Department of Health is calling upon parents to be aware of the symptoms of enterovirus EV-D68. More than 12 children across the…

National

Liberal Vermont Senator Sanders may seek U.S. presidency…

By Will DunhamWASHINGTON (Reuters) - Bernie Sanders, one of the Senate's leading liberals, said on Sunday he is thinking about running for U.S. president in…

Money

Second Shift: Turning fun into money

In this week's Second Shift series, meet a New Yorker who has established two successful careers around having fun.

Movies

Dan Stevens kisses Cousin Matthew goodbye

Dan Stevens wanted a change and he certainly got one. After quickly developing a devoted fan base as Matthew Crawley on "Downton Abbey," the 32-year-old…

Movies

Nerd alert: Genesis Rodriguez, robot-maker

Geeks of the world, you're about to fall in love with Genesis Rodriguez. There's no point in resisting. The actress, appearing in Kevin Smith's totally…

The Word

The Word: Kanye West wants everyone on their…

Maybe we can blame this one on the migraine, too. Kanye West is drawing ire for halting a performance in Sydney when his demands that…

Movies

That's a wrap on TIFF 2014

This year's Toronto International Film Festival closes without the satisfying sense of certainty that had become a mainstay in recent years. Last year, for example,…

NFL

3 things we learned in Jets loss to…

The wheels came off for the Jets, who gave up 21 unanswered points after a brilliant first 20 minutes in a 31-24 loss at the Packers.

NFL

Victor Cruz catches case of the drops in…

The Giants dropped a tough, 25-14, decision to the undermanned Cardinals Sunday in their home opener. And drop was the operative word of the day,…

NFL

Giants vs. Cardinals: 3 things we learned

The Giants heard all week about how ragged their new offense has looked, but even when they finally answered the bell they still can’t find a way to win.

NFL

About a quarter of football players will get…

About one in four National Football League players are likely to end up suffering cognitive impairments during their lifetime, according to a report.

Home

DIY design: Try this upcycle furniture project

Tiffany Threadgould is living a DIY life. The Chief Design Junkie at TerraCycle, an international waste management company headquartered in Trenton, New Jersey, grew up…

Parenting

The downside of a BFF

For teenage girls a best friend can mean everything, but the way they deal with their problems together can lead to depression

Education

How many colleges should I apply to? Your…

To the average high school senior, creating the perfect college application can seem like a golden ticket into their future. Students and their parents spend…

Career

How Generation Z will change the way Americans…

What to learn how to establish a career in this new economy? Look no further than the current generation of young people - that is,…