Jets coach Rex Ryan found his own way of telling Joe McKnight that he’s going to be playing more cornerback than running back in the future.
Ryan entered offensive meetings this week and told McKnight that he’d been traded, presumably waiting a beat before letting McKnight know that he was being traded to the Jets defense and not to another team. Ryan explained Wednesday that McKnight’s work a corner on the scout team as a rookie showed enough promise that the team thinks he can be a strong addition to the secondary as the season unfolds. McKnight found it hard to focus on the positives of the move.
“I just took it as I’m not good enough to play running back,” McKnight said, via Conor Orr of the Newark Star-Ledger. “That’s how I took it.”
While Ryan accentuated the positive, it’s hard to miss that message in the move. While the desperate times caused by Darrelle Revis’ injury certainly call for desperate measure, teams don’t tend to drastically change a player’s portfolio because they think he’s doing a spectacular job at his original spot. There are exceptions, Troy Brown comes to mind, but it’s hard to find much argument with McKnight’s gut reaction to the news.
In addition to his scout team appearances on defense, McKnight played some corner in high school. He scoffed at questions wondering whether that scholastic experience would help him at all in his new endeavor, although he expressed confidence in his ability to do the job and a bit more of a positive attitude when it came to the potential upside of the move on McKnight’s future.
“At this point in time I’m just happy to just be on the field,” McKnight said. “I’m getting tired of just standing on the sideline.”
That’s not quite a new bike under the Christmas tree reaction, but McKnight seems to realize the writing was on the wall at running back for the Jets. Making a successful transition to defense is going to be the best way for McKnight to be on the field or the sideline, as opposed to his couch, in this and future NFL seasons.