CORTLAND – From the moment he came into the league, Antonio Cromartie has been begging to play wide receiver.
Even as a rookie with the Chargers, Cromartie has had his sights set on lighting up the field with his feet and his hands. And on Monday, he took a step closer to his ultimate goal.
The Jets cornerback – who inadvertently set off a firestorm earlier in training camp when he said he’s the second-best receiver on the team – worked with receivers during individuals drills.
“It felt good getting back out there,” Cromartie said. “I just have to be ready period whenever my number’s called. I’m looking forward to it. I’ve been waiting for this opportunity for a while to play it both ways in the NFL.”
While he waited for his turn during drills, the cornerback sought the advice of the Jets No. 1 receiver -- Santonio Holmes.
Holmes, who is nursing his way back from a rib injury, gave Cromartie some pointers, including tips on route-running. “Any help I can get right now is just going to be big help,” said Cromartie.
Since he joined the Jets in 2010, Cromartie said he’s been bugging head coach Rex Ryan to use him on both sides of the ball. Though he was used sparingly as a wide receiver last season, the coaching staff seems much more inclined to use cornerback on offense – both in practice and in games.
“We have a different coordinator,” Cromartie said with a laugh, referring to Tony Sparano, who replaced Brian Schottenheimer as their offensive coordinator. “…I’m finally getting my chance. I got a couple plays last year. But I think this year, I’ll actually get a chance to play a little more receiver.
“Yes, the begging has paid off,” he added with another big grin. “Three years straight.”
When asked during his afternoon press conference about Cromartie’s enthusiasm on offense, Ryan couldn’t help delivering a well-timed joke.
“We’ll see how excited he is when he gets smacked by a safety.”