Sunday’s 38-7 Jets win over the Bills had a preseason feel to it, right down to the heavy dose of running back Joe McKnight for the Jets.
McKnight was last seen playing a comic relief role on “Hard Knocks” because of his habit of vomiting during practices and fumbling during games. Rex Ryan even admitted that McKnight was being kept on the team at the expense of other players — Chauncey Washington and, more painfully for Jets fans, Danny Woodhead — simply because he was a fourth-round pick. McKnight was inactive most weeks and limited to special teams work when he did find his way to the field.
Until Sunday, that is. With Shonn Greene and LaDainian Tomlinson both inactive to rest for the playoffs, McKnight got the ball 32 times against the Bills and turned in a strong performance. He finished with 158 yards, didn’t fumble and ended a disappointing season with a high note. Those 158 yards were the most by a Jets rookie since 1964.
“He earned his way into the doghouse, and then he earned his way out of it,” general manager Mike Tannenbaum said after the game.
One good game against a bad team in Week 17 doesn’t necessarily augur better days ahead for McKnight. He’ll be back on the bench next week, but Sunday’s glimmer should earn McKnight another long look next summer.
Assuming, of course, that there is a next summer.