Joe McKnight was told Monday during a positional meeting with the running backs that he’d be seeing more time at cornerback and he could even play some this weekend against the 49ers.
“My gut reaction was that I got up and ran out of there fast, that if this is going to get me on the field, then that’s what I’m going to do,” McKnight said. “That’s all I was thinking.”
He called the move to defense “bittersweet,” but added, “If it’s a decision to make the team better, I’m all for it.” Although he contributes on special teams, the running back position is where he wants to prove himself.
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“That’s where I got drafted. I got drafted there and I want to play running back and master it before I move to cornerback,” McKnight said. “It is a desire on my part, no doubt.”
Running backs coach Anthony Lynn told McKnight on Monday that he is still expected to know his playbook for offense and could contribute at running back as well.
In high school, McKnight did play both ways, so he’s not entirely unfamiliar with the position. He admits with a laugh that his limited knowledge of the position likely won’t help him at this level. Once he arrived for college at USC, McKnight expressed an interest in playing on both sides of the ball but the Trojans coaching staff wanted him to focus on offense.
The transition, he said, can be difficult as the mentality between running back and cornerback are night and day. But McKnight is spending time watching the Jets’ starting cornerback tandem of Antonio Cromartie and Kyle Wilson to help get caught up with the intricacies of the position.
“I’m just watching tape from them, watching tape from Revis, just trying to get technique down,” McKnight said. “I’ve got the athleticism but I’ve got work on my technique. [There are] a lot of athletic cornerbacks in the league right now, but technique is the one thing I need to work on.”
Follow Jets beat writer Kristian Dyer on Twitter @KristianRDyer.