Joe McKnight appears as if he's finally ready to contribute.
The rookie running back crushed Cincinnati wide receiver Quan Cosby late in the first quarter, lowering the boom on Cosby as he attempted to return Steve Weatherford's 34-yard punt. It may not have had a lot of significance in the outcome of the Jets' 26-10 victory over the Bengals last night, but it was one of the few impact plays we've seen from their fourth-round pick.
"Man, I just put the preparation in and I just visualized myself making plays the night before and that whole week," McKnight told me. "I just wanted to go out and make plays, and that's what I tried to do."
So, naturally, I asked him if he visualized cracking Cosby.
"Nah, I didn't visualize that," he said. "I was just visualizing making a couple of tackles and making a few key blocks."
McKnight was active for the third straight game and the fourth time all season, a sign he could be finally regaining the staff's faith. His penchant for fumbling and overall shakiness running the ball among other things caused Rex Ryan to keep him inactive at the season's outset, forcing McKnight to work to regain the coach's trust.
He seems to be doing just that of late and his play against the Bengals brought an unsolicited bit of praise from Bart Scott.
"Earlier this season, you didn't see Joe McKnight on the football field," the linebacker said. "But Joe McKnight steps up and the game has slowed down for him. Same thing I told Shonn Greene later in the year last year. 'We are going to need you later in November and December.'
"I'll look forward to big things from Joe McKnight and being that explosive player that we know he can be. Maybe returning some punts, maybe getting back there and lining up in the slot and things like that. I'm excited."
McKnight, who's yet to rush the ball since his four-carry cameo against the Bills on Oct. 3, remains eager for that next shot on offense, though he's not sure when Brian Schottenheimer will finally call his number again.
"Time will tell," McKnight said. "Coach Schotty knows what he's doing. He's a great offensive coordinator and we have a lot of coaches who are great. I’m just being patient, just waiting until they give me a chance again. I just want to let them know that I’m not going to let them down. If they are thinking they can't trust me, I just want to let them know I’m not going to let them down any more."