With a rash of injuries at the cornerback spot, Jets head coach Rex Ryan said Friday that rookie running back Joe McKnight could be the team’s fifth cornerback in Sunday’s game against Houston.
The Jets will be without defensive backs Marquice Cole (hamstring) and Dwight Lowery (concussion), leaving them with just four active defensive backs against the league’s No. 6 offense (yards per game.).
While Ryan would hope that McKnight wouldn’t have to play defense, as that would mean there were injuries, he’s not against to putting the rookie in the secondary.
“He’s been working that way,” Ryan said. “It probably won’t be very multiple with him out there in coverage, but we caught him a couple zone and I think we even taught him some man coverage. Hell be alright, he’s been out there.”
McKnight, drafted in the fourth round out of USC, has been practicing on both offense and defense during the course of the season. He said he had not heard anything about playing defense this week and is just waiting until he is told what his exact role will be for the game. He would’ve been active for the game even without the defensive injuries, as he plays special teams.
“I probably won’t be familiar with the coverages,” McKnight said, “but I’ll be comfortable with everything else like playing defense, man-to-man, I can do that.”
McKnight could also see some playing time potentially this weekend as a wide receiver or a running back. With Jerricho Cotchery to miss the game with a groin injury, McKnight could possibly slide into an offensive package, as he has been impressing Ryan recently with his play.
“I’m telling you guys, he’s getting ready to explode,” Ryan said. “He earned our non-trust, I guess you’d say it, but fumbling, but the way he’s practiced, he’s earned our trust back. I think it’s just a matter of time. Expect to see him out there because he’s been playing.
"Running back, receiver, corner. He's going to play some for us."