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Cromartie Begging To Play Wide Receiver

Cromartie Practicing Wide Receiver Drills
(credit: Rob Carr/Getty Images)

(credit: Rob Carr/Getty Images)

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CORTLAND, N.Y. (CBSNewYork/AP) — Antonio Cromartie hopes to play cornerback and wide receiver for the New York Jets this season.

Earlier this summer, Cromartie made waves early in training camp when he said he would rank himself as the team’s second-best wide receiver behind Santonio Holmes.

His comments didn’t sit well with receiver Chaz Schilens.

Schilens responded to Cromartie during Jets’ training camp.  “I think it’s a slight. I’m not going to lie. I just wouldn’t say it. It’s not something I would say. I’m not him, I guess,” he said.

Now, Cromartie is looking to earn that place on the Jets’ wide receiver depth chart.

The Jets’ cornerback participated in individual drills with the receivers for the first time during practice Monday, running routes and catching passes.

“It felt good,” Cromartie said. “At this point, I’m just learning the steps and trying to learn more about the position, running routes. I felt pretty good today about catching the ball, too.”

“I’m definitely hoping,” he said. “I’m looking forward to it. I’ve been waiting for the opportunity to try to play both ways in the NFL for a while.”

Cromartie says he has been begging coach Rex Ryan to get a chance at being a two-way player, and thinks he will get an opportunity to play more at wide receiver this season.

Actually, Cromartie said he has been asking to do it since his rookie season with the San Diego Chargers in 2006.

“It’s fun,” Cromartie said. “It’s an opportunity to get the ball in your hands and another challenge. I’m looking at going out and playing receiver as a challenge for me.”

After defending NFL wide receivers for the first six seasons of his career, becoming one — at least part-time — is an intriguing idea for Cromartie.

“We’ll see how excited he is when he gets smacked by a safety,” a joking Ryan said.

Cromartie played both ways in high school in Tallahassee, Fla., and was slated to play some at wide receiver during his junior year at Florida State. But he tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee during the offseason and missed that season. Still, he was drafted in the first round by the Chargers.

Cromartie has flashed tremendous playmaking ability on defense and as a kick returner on special teams. Next up: wide receiver. And there’s one major reason, in his mind, that he’ll get that shot this season.

“Uh, because we got a different coordinator,” Cromartie said. “Plus, I bugged Rex every opportunity to put me on offense, so I finally get my chance. I got a couple plays last year, but this year, I’ll actually get a chance to play a little more receiver.”

Brian Schottenheimer, replaced by Tony Sparano, actually used Cromartie at wide receiver for five snaps last year, but his work at the position wasn’t extensive. Cromartie has talked to Holmes about playing wide receiver, trying to learn the nuances of the position and getting any tips he can.

“Any help I can get right now is going to be big,” Cromartie said, “and I’m going to try to add it to my game.”

Is this a good idea Jets fans? Be heard in the comments below…

(TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)