Normally when referring to the New York Jets jack-of-all trades, Wildcat quarterback and personal punt protector Tim Tebow comes to the forefront of every football fans' mind. But now with the Jets missing their best defensive back in All-Pro Darrelle Revis for the remainder of the season, Rex Ryan is turning to an unlikely candidate to shore up his secondary. Third-year pro Joe McKnight is being converted from running back to cornerback with New York searching for answers to fill the void left by Revis. Ryan informed the former USC Trojan of the position switch in his patented comedic fashion.
"This is how I found out, Rex walked into the room and said I was traded, I got traded to the defense," Mcknight told reporters with an ear to ear grin. "Ever since then, I've just been working on the defense. I'm not doing a lot of stuff, just keeping it small and really simple for me, so I can go out there and just play."
During training camp, McKnight lost the battle for the third-down running back job to second-year tailback Bilal Powell. While special teams coach Mike Westhoff has utilized McKnight's athleticism in the kick return game, No. 25 has seen limited snaps offensively this season. Even though the Jets' offense has been wildly inconsistent this regular season, it's Ryan's defense that has been the biggest disappointment thus far.
Through three games, Gang Green holds claim to the NFL's worst third-down defense, allowing opponents to convert nearly 56 percent of their attempts. With the coaching staff refusing to leave any stone unturned, McKnight is adjusting well to his new-found role.
Joe McKnight | NYJets
"Yeah, I was surprised, but it was a decision to make the team better," McKnight admitted of his switch to the defensive side. "I'm all for it."
One player who was impressed with McKnight's cover skills this week was none other than Tebow himself.
"Joe's very talented and he is someone that is a playmaker, I think he showed that in practice today, I think he had three interceptions," declared Tebow. "That's good for him, he's playing in a position I think he feels comfortable at. I think he'll be able to adjust and have a chance to be a big time corner."
McKnight will be returning to his high school football glory days, the last time he played the cornerback position in live game action. With Tebow offering high praise and predicting a bright future for No. 25 as an NFL defensive back, McKnight's natural talent at the position caught Ryan's eye on the practice field back in 2010.
"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," Ryan asserted. "He has the speed, the size, the athleticism, ball skills, everything you look for in a corner. I definitely would not bet against Joe McKnight becoming a good corner."
Rick Laughland covers the New York Jets for Greenandwhitereport.com
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