When the New York Jets drafted Joe McKnight in 2010, they were hopeful that they would be getting a young and talented running back capable of producing at the professional level. They even traded up 12 spots to ensure that McKnight’s future would be in New York. Little did they know, McKnight would end up struggling in an area that no one expected: training camp conditioning tests.
As training camp began last week, McKnight was hopeful that he could see an increased role in the Jets backfield. But once again for the second time in his career, a simple conditioning test temporarily stood in his way. He explained that his body fat has been too low and that he’s been struggling with cramps. But was his conditioning so bad that he couldn’t pass a test that 300 pound linemen regularly pass?
What’s this guy’s deal?
It’s hard to deny McKnight’s elusiveness as a kick returner, but at this point it’s also difficult to say that he has any real value as a running back. Whether his conditioning problems come as a result of slacking off during the offseason or not, McKnight lacks the physical attributes needed to be an every-down threat in the backfield.
The problem is that the Jets still see in McKnight the potential that they saw in him as a 1,000-yard rusher at the University of Southern California. He’s dangerous in the open field and he’s incredibly versatile. McKnight could very well find himself a niche in Marty Mornhinweg‘s West Coast offense, but not until he proves himself during training camp. Failing a conditioning test was not a good first step.
As of now, McKnight is a return specialist for the Jets and nothing more. But he wants to be more, and they need him to be more. The rest of training camp will be key in determining his future with the Jets and whether or not he can actualize his potential. If he shows signs of major improvement, the Jets’ backfield is pretty much free for the taking.