FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) — Joe McKnight is a man possessed.
And he wants to make this clear: He’s not going anywhere.
The New York Jets running back, entering his fourth season, smacked down speculation that he could be the odd man out in the team’s crowded backfield.
“Whoever they bring in, I don’t care,” McKnight said Thursday in the locker room. “You understand that? I don’t care who they bring in.
“They’ll have to kill me to take my spot.”
McKnight was fired up, his lower lip quivering slightly, when he was asked by a reporter if he could soon be out the door since New York, which allowed Shonn Greene to leave as a free agent, has McKnight, Chris Ivory, Mike Goodson, Bilal Powell and John Griffin as running backs on the roster.
“I’m not angry at all,” McKnight said. “I’m just tired of people writing or running their mouths talking about I’m not going to be here. I’m going to prove it to them that I’ll be here.”
McKnight, who has struggled at times to stay on the field with health issues, was nearly a Pro Bowl pick in 2011 as a kick returner. He was drafted in the fourth round in 2010 to bring a speedy pass-catching presence to the backfield. While he has shown some flashes at times as a running back, his impact has been mostly minimal on offense.
In three NFL seasons, McKnight has rushed for 502 yards on 112 carries and caught 17 passes for 177 yards. And, he has yet to get into the end zone on offense. He has been a terrific kick returner, however, averaging 29 yards and scoring twice — including a team-record 107-yard runback in 2011.
The Jets, looking to upgrade their running game, signed the versatile Goodson and traded for hard-running Ivory this offseason to complement Powell and McKnight. It remains unclear if New York would go into the season with four running backs, leading to the speculation that McKnight could be gone.
“All four of us are going to have to have our own package,” McKnight said. “Whatever package we’ll be in, sometimes we might be on the field together. You just never know. We just know we’ll have our own package.”
McKnight was then asked if he thinks he’ll definitely have his own plays.
“I don’t think,” McKnight said. “I know.”
McKnight will be working under his third offensive coordinator in as many years with Marty Mornhinweg taking over for the fired Tony Sparano. McKnight thinks Mornhinweg’s West Coast-style will suit him well by motioning him out in the slot or at wide receiver.
“I like Coach Mornhinweg,” McKnight said. “I mean, it’s a new offense and it’s based on your playmaking ability — what are you going to do on the field to get open and make a play? It’s fun.”