Joe McKnight’s not-so-excellent adventure as a cornerback is over, and he welcomed a return to his position at running back this week. Happy? McKnight wouldn’t go that far because, obviously, he was none too thrilled to be flipped to the other side of the ball, and he clearly would like a larger role than the cameo appearances he’s made as part of the Jets’ Wildcat offense.
But after a productive talk with head coach Rex Ryan on Tuesday, McKnight was back with the offense on Wednesday. “It feels good to get back with my family, my friends and Nick,” McKnight said. He was smiling when he mentioned being back on offense with center Nick Mangold.
“Where’s McKnight” could become a game in the Jets’ locker room, and the answer might serve as a barometer of where the coaching staff feels the team is hurting most. They moved McKnight to defense last week after losing All-Pro cornerback Darrelle Revis to a knee injury and sent McKnight back to offense after wideout Santonio Holmes went down with a season-ending foot injury last Sunday.
It’s a good bet, they’ll find away to emphasize the running game more both because of the lack of depth at the receiver positions now with Holmes out and tight end Dustin Keller and wide receiver Stephen Hill trying to come back from injuries and to take pressure off quarterback Mark Sanchez. Certainly, McKnight believes the Jets have to step up their running game.
“Anytime we have a game with  rushing yards, we need to do more,” McKnight said, referring to the Jets’ total in their 34-0 loss to San Francisco. “As a whole, we need to do more.”
The question is: can they? “Yeah, we can be the best running team in the NFL,” McKnight said. “We’ve just got to work at it.”
There aren’t many who would agree with Knight on that point right now. But everyone on the Jets understands the running game must improve to help the defense out by controlling the ball. Currently, Shonn Greene and Bilal Powell are taking all the snaps at the regular running back position, but it’s possible the Jets will employ more Wildcat, which would increase McKnight’s role along with that of backup quarterback Tim Tebow.
McKnight was disappointed to lose his third-down back job to Powell in training camp, but you never know when he might get another shot to display his speed and breakaway ability for a team with a long gain of only 14 yards through four games.
Asked if he’d like to see his role expanded beyond the Wildcat, McKnight said, “I hope so. I mean, if that’s my role right now, and I’ve just got to do my best in my role. We’ve got to go through a whole week of practice to see where we’re at and to see where I’m at with the offense and go from there.”