NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — A tumultuous summer for Joe McKnight just got worse.
McKnight, a backup running back and the team’s primary kick returner the last two seasons, was among the New York Jets’ first 14 cuts Monday.
The team’s fourth-round draft pick in 2010 was involved in a series of incidents this summer that included an arrest for unpaid traffic warrants, a concussion, migraine headaches, a few questionable posts on Twitter and some tension with the media and fans.
McKnight was arrested earlier this summer in New Jersey — on an off day — for outstanding traffic warrants, and was later released on $320 bail, the amount of the tickets.
McKnight was active for the first time this preseason on Saturday night after being sidelined by a concussion, but did not play. In an interview with The Associated Press last week, McKnight said he didn’t feel comfortable about his roster status.
“I have to get on the field this week, these next two games, and then prove something,” he said last Tuesday. “I’ve got to make sure these next few practices and these last two preseason games are real good. I’ve just got to get out there on the field and make some plays. I just need to do this.”
He never made it onto the playing field against the Giants, even on kickoffs, which seemed curious at the time. McKnight has two career kickoff returns for touchdowns, including a team-record 107-yard return in 2011 that stands as the longest play in Jets history.
After being released by the Jets, McKnight tweeted:
“Love all my Jets and Jets fans had fun. I love this place that’s why this hurts some much, I loved all those guys in that locker room.”
Love all my JETS AND JETS FANS HAD FUN. I love this place that's why this hurts some much, I loved all those guys in that locker room—
JOE MCKNIGHT (@Joejetlife) August 26, 2013
He later tweeted: “Back to step one.”
BACK TO STEP ONE—
JOE MCKNIGHT (@Joejetlife) August 26, 2013
Veteran guard Stephen Peterman, who was signed in the offseason and appeared in line to start at left guard until recently, was also released.
Peterman was signed in April after spending the last seven seasons with Detroit. The improved play of Vladimir Ducasse and rookie Brian Winters at left guard made him expendable. Peterman was also working a bit at center to potentially back up Nick Mangold.
Also cut as the Jets reduced their active roster to 75 players by the NFL’s Tuesday deadline were: running back Chad Spann, offensive linemen Patrick Ford and Trey Gilleo, wide receivers Joe Collins, Marcus Rucker, K.J. Stroud and Rahsaan Vaughn, linebacker Sean Progar-Jackson, defensive backs Donnie Fletcher and Bret Lockett, punter Ryan Quigley and long snapper Patrick Scales.
Kyle Wilson, Clyde Gates, Jeremy Kerley and even Antonio Cromartie might now serve as the team’s kick returners.
In May, McKnight angrily responded to speculation that his time with the Jets could soon be up, saying: “They’ll have to kill me to take my spot.”
McKnight didn’t pass his conditioning test the day before the team reported for training camp to SUNY Cortland last month, but did so the next day. He was arrested in New Jersey on a day off from camp last month for outstanding traffic warrants, and later released on bail.
McKnight then injured his head during practice — he confirmed it was a concussion although the Jets never officially called it a concussion — and was cleared to return a few days later, wearing a red no-contact jersey. He refused to answer questions that day about the concussion or arrest, repeatedly saying, “I’m not getting into that right now.”
Two weeks ago, McKnight was carted to the locker room, wearing an oxygen mask, after banging his head on the ground during a play. He had taken a knee three times on his way to the field earlier that day while dealing with a migraine headache. Later that morning, he angrily responded on Twitter to someone he thought was a reporter who wrote that he should get released.
The final straw for the Jets might have come last week when McKnight, refusing to speak to the media, gave a reporter one of the team-issued media “bridges” cards that was given to players with suggested talking points for interviews.
“I’m over it all, but for what’s going on, I know who my enemies are and who’s with me,” he told the AP last week. “I’ve just got to address those people accordingly.”
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