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Jets RB Joe McKnight fights through dehydration, cramps

Jets running back Joe McKnight heads upfield during

Jets running back Joe McKnight heads upfield during Day 3 of team minicamp, which was held indoors at the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center. (June 13, 2013) Credit: James Escher

CORTLAND, N.Y. - What is it with Joe McKnight and the conditioning process?

As a rookie in 2010, he vomited and cramped up in his first practice. Last year, he came down with a case of food poisoning and missed a day of training camp. On Thursday, he failed his conditioning test after cramping up. And Saturday, he barely made it through practice, citing a case of dehydration that led to more cramps.

"Just a rough day," McKnight said about an hour after practice, still sweating profusely despite having taken a shower. "I just had to fight through it. I'm a little dehydrated."

McKnight said the reason for his dehydration issues is his low body fat. He said his body fat is about 3.3 percent and that the team wants him to be at about 6.0 percent to avoid getting dehydrated.

During practice Saturday, he took a knee several times to rest and eventually was fitted with a vest that had ice in it. The vest was placed beneath his shoulder pads and jersey, and McKnight finished the practice.

"I just have to get my body fat up to keep from cramping a lot and keep from getting dehydrated," said McKnight, the Jets' fourth-round pick in 2010. "With my body heat, I get real hot and I get to start sweating and I start to sweat everything out."

McKnight said he failed Thursday's conditioning test because of the same problem.

"It's not that I wasn't working out, because I was at the [training] facility," he said. "I just didn't finish the test . I came back the next morning and passed."

It's not that he doesn't try to keep hydrated. But sometimes it gets complicated.

"It's hard drinking a lot all day, because in the middle of the night, you have to get up and keep going to the bathroom," he said. "You just have to keep focused on it."

McKnight hopes to be a central part of an offense that will be led by incumbent quarterback Mark Sanchez or rookie Geno Smith. He said there's plenty of motivation for both.

"[Smith] has good charisma and said he wants to win," McKnight said. "You can see it in his eyes."

And Sanchez, his former USC teammate?

"Besides y'all making him mad, Mark will be always be Mark," he said. "He'll always come out to compete."

What's making him mad? "All that stuff with [Tim] Tebow last year," McKnight said. "I feel like it put a little pep in his step, wanting to push for greatness."

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