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Called to defend: Jets' McKnight moved to cornerback

The SportsXchange

The season-ending knee injury to Darrelle Revis led the Jets to move running back Joe McKnight to cornerback.

Coach Rex Ryan said McKnight will practice almost exclusively at cornerback, a position that isn't entirely foreign to McKnight.

"He'll have a role on offense but we're also teaching him to play corner in almost -- not quite a full-time capacity," Ryan said Wednesday. "But he's going to be over there a ton; in the meetings and everything else

Entering Southern Cal, McKnight was the No. 1 high school recruit in the nation as a running back but also played cornerback. At the time, assistant coach Ken Norton Jr. said McKnight could have been a top draft pick as a defensive back if he wanted to go that route.

Instead, McKnight was a solid if unspectacular running back with the Trojans and has served mostly as a return man for the Jets. He was unable to win the third-down back job this season and fell to third on the depth chart topped by Shonn Greene and Bilal Powell.

The Jets aren't hurting at cornerback -- they'll start a pair of first-round draft picks in Antonio Cromartie and Kyle Wilson -- and McKnight did practice with the defensive backs during preparation for Week 2, which Revis missed recovering from a concussion.

"He's got the speed, the size, the athleticism, the ball skills, everything you look for in a corner. I don't think there's any reason not to think Joe McKnight can be a corner," Ryan said. "It's just going to take time, obviously. But I think with (defensive coaches) Dennis Thurman and with Jimmy (O'Neil) over there I think we've got great teachers of the game and I think it will be interesting. I definitely would not bet against Joe McKnight becoming a good corner."
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