Chris Ivory, Mike Goodson running behind rest of Jets' backs

Jets running back Chris Ivory rushes during team

Jets running back Chris Ivory rushes during team OTAs. (June 5, 2013) (Credit: James Escher)

DETROIT - By now, Anthony Lynn assumed he'd have plenty of speed, strength and explosion at his disposal. But the Jets running backs coach has been forced to make do with the players who are in front of him.

The free-agent acquisitions of Mike Goodson and Chris Ivory were intended to bring a much-need spark to the Jets' ground game. But instead, Goodson's unexplained absence and Ivory's nagging hamstring injury have raised even more questions about the Jets' offensive production in their West Coast system.

Ivory, who has yet to practice in team drills, repeatedly has insisted he'll be back at full strength by next week. But Lynn knows it won't be an easy transition for the fourth-year running back.

"Because of timing and learning a new system, yeah, I have a lot of concerns," Lynn said of the former New Orleans Saint, whom he occasionally works with one-on-one during breaks in practice.

"But right now, I just do what I have to do; pull him to the side, continue to teach him. And hopefully some of that sticks with him, so that when he does get on the field, he can play fast and physical and we can see the Chris Ivory we all liked on tape."

The allure of Goodson's speed prompted the Jets to sign him to a three-year, $6.9-million contract ($1.925 million guaranteed, plus a $1-million signing bonus) in the offseason. But because of legal issues stemming from his May 17 arrest on weapons and gun charges in New Jersey, the running back missed most of minicamp and has yet to make a training camp appearance in Cortland.

"I know how to use him," Lynn said. "But Goodson needs to be here as well to learn the system. It's a new system for him as well."

"Those two have two different job responsibilities," the assistant coach added. "Chris is going to be more involved with protections than Mike. That's the first thing I try to get through to these guys: protections. That's a difficult thing for guys in this league.

"It keeps a lot of running backs off the field. It got Bilal Powell on the field."

The 5-10 Powell has powered the Jets' running game thus far, exhibiting both speed and shiftiness in practice and in the Green and White scrimmage last week. "Whatever opportunities are given, whenever my number is called, I just try to take full advantage of it," Powell said.

His production also has helped to highlight Joe McKnight's unreliability. The fourth-year running back/kick returner failed his physical at the start of camp, sat out portions of practice because of dehydration and suffered a head injury in practice a few days after he was arrested in New Jersey for outstanding traffic warrants.

McKnight, Goodson and Ivory did not make the trip here for Friday night's preseason opener, along with three other players. To make up for their absence, the Jets will rely on a steady dose of Powell, plus Chad Spann and John Griffin, in their run game.

Known as "that MJD guy" by Rex Ryan -- a welcome comparison to Jaguars Pro Bowler Maurice Jones-Drew -- Spann, 25, is one of several free agents fighting for a spot with the Jets.

"He's a hard worker," Lynn said of the 5-8 Spann, who was briefly with the Colts, Bucs and Steelers. "He shows up every day, he's learning every day.

"He's growing like a little weed. I don't think he's a small guy; I think he's just short. He'll stick it up in there, runs with good pad level and he gives you everything he's got. That's all you can ask for."

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