Coach Ryan Talks about McKnight at Cornerback
By Alan Schechter
September 16, 2012; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; New York Jets running back Joe McKnight (25) returns a kick-off against the Pittsburgh Steelers during the second quarter at Heinz Field. The Pittsburgh Steelers won 27-10. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-US PRESSWIRE
The Jets have a new cornerback. Well, sort of.
With the injury to Darelle Revis, the Jets have to compensate in the secondary. Antonio Cromartie, Kyle Wilson, and all the rest of the corners have to step their games up, and do it fast. The Jets also announced an addition to the secondary, that is already in house. RB Joe McKnight is going to spend a lot of time on the defensive side of the football. They have felt he can play corner for a long time, and how he will get his chance. Here is what Rex had to say about it yesterday in his conversation with the media:
We’ll do that this week with Joe McKnight. He’ll have a role on offense, but we’re also teaching him how to play corner, in not quite a full-time capacity, but he’s going to be over there a ton (and) in the meetings. He’s a guy that we saw on scout team when he was a rookie, that he has the necessary skills to be able to play corner. He has the speed, the size, the athleticism, ball skills, everything you look for in a corner. I don’t think there’s any reason not to think that Joe McKnight couldn’t be a corner. It’s just going to take time, obviously. With (Coach) Dennis Thurman and (Coach) Jimmy (O’Neil) over there, I think we have great teachers of the game and I think it will be interesting. I definitely would not bet against Joe McKnight becoming a good corner.
The current cornerbacks are working hard to help Joe, as Antonio Cromartie told us:
Right now, we are just trying to make sure he knows the basic stuff of our defense. He had a great practice today. It seems, the way he plays corner, it comes to him naturally. I think the biggest thing for him is to make sure he keeps working hard and working every single day with Coach Thurman and us.
Rex clearly feels good about the prospect. It’s hard to handicap, as we haven’t seen Joe do it very much. Rex can’t bring it out of everyone, as we saw with Vernon “Big Vern” Gholston. Hopefully Rex can, along with the defensive coaches, can bring the ability out of Joe. The corners are helping him prepare, which is the sign of a good team environment.
McKnight talked about the attributes he feels he has to play cornerback:I have the athleticism, I just have to work on my technique. (There’s) a lot of athleticism in the cornerbacks in this league, you have (to have) the technique take over. That’s one of the things I have to work on.
Time will tell how this turns out. It has been done in the past, with the likes of Troy Brown in New England, albeit in a lesser role. We will soon find out.