Part of Joe McKnight’s offseason plan was to put on more weight for what he hoped would be a bigger role in the Jets backfield in 2012. What he didn’t plan on was a joke following team workouts on Wednesday to lead to questions about whether he literally took his offseason plan to “supersize” a little too far.
Finishing last season just under 200 pounds, McKnight is now tipping the scale at 216 pounds -- a significant weight gain for someone who isn’t known as a power running back. When asked about his size gains, McKnight joked about eating fast food as a way to get bigger.
"Man, a lot of McDonald's," McKnight joked on Wednesday. "I was what 198? I mean I had to eat."
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Entering his third season in the league, McKnight stood out on special teams last season and should have an increased role with the offense this year as the Jets have cut ties with veteran running back LaDainian Tomlinson.
It’s a big opportunity for McKnight, given the Jets re-commitment to the ground and pound offense, and he needed extra size to compete for more carries.
“I think I'm going to lose a couple when I go into camp. You know, with the pads, the heat and
everything I'll probably start the season at probably between 210 and 205. That's where I want to be at by the time the season starts,” McKnight said.
“When I go into camp I don't want to lose too much weight and then be underweight. So I just put the weight on so when I get to camp I can lose the right amount of weight and go into the season ready to run."
The past five months haven’t seen McKnight camped out on the sofa, eating French fries and McFlurries. He joined a number of teammates for offseason conditioning drills at the TEST Sports Club in Martinsville, N.J. Along with linebacker Bart Scott, nose tackle Kenrick Ellis, cornerback Kyle Wilson, running back Bilal Powell and tackle Vlad Ducasse, the Jets players trained four days a week at the facility for two-hour strength and conditioning sessions. The workouts were based on a hypertrophy program that focuses on explosive power while enhancing core strength and flexibility at the same time. Typical repetitions range from six to eight and are done at high intensity with quality form.
After the training sessions, the Jets often went to a local field to run routes or do additional workouts.
Hearing the McDonald’s jokes is somewhat of an affront for TEST owner Brian Martin, who saw McKnight’s dedication over the previous six weeks months at the facility. He says he worked closely with McKnight on his diet, as he did with all the NFL players at the facility.
“Joe needed to gain 10-plus pounds of lean body mass so we focused on increasing ‘clean calories’ such as lean proteins like chicken, fish, lean and red meats as well as carbohydrates with lower glycemic index such as brown rice, sweet potato, whole grains, as well as lots of vegetables and moderate fruits,” Martin told Metro. “He increased his calories to over 3,500 calories per day.”
McDonald’s wasn’t part of the plan and Martin had nothing but positives to say about the running back’s dedication at the facility.
Perhaps the uproar comes from the fact that McKnight has a tainted history with the Jets concerning his offseason conditioning. During rookie camp three years ago, he showed up out of shape to the point that he had to sit out drills and vomited into a nearby trash can. Now with his McDonald’s joke being taken out of context, McKnight has to show on the field that his weight gain was done the right way.
“Gaining the weight, it hasn't slowed me down. I mean, I don't feel like I've slowed down and from what I've heard it doesn't look like I've slowed down,” McKnight said. “I got more explosive and more powerful out of my cuts. I can say that.”
Follow Jets beat writer Kristian Dyer on Twitter @KristianRDyer for more offseason news and notes.