The Jets may expand Joe McKnight’s role in an unconventional way against the Steelers on Sunday. The Daily News has learned that McKnight, who was beaten out by Bilal Powell for the Jets’ third-down running back job, practiced at cornerback this week.
McKnight played in just three of the Jets’ 67 snaps in Week 1, according to Pro Football Focus. His primary responsibilities will be at running back, but the Jets may use him as an emergency cornerback in Pittsburgh. McKnight took some practice reps all week and met with defensive coaches to prepare for the task, according to sources.
The Jets are down to only four healthy cornerbacks on the active roster after All-Pro Darrelle Revis (concussion) was ruled out for the game. The Jets typically have carried six cornerbacks on their roster in the past.
Ryan can’t have enough good corners against the Steelers, who could feature four- and five-wide receiver looks.
McKnight got a taste of defense in 2011. He was used as a blitzing back on one play against the Ravens in Week 4.
McKnight played cornerback and free safety in high school. He was recruited as a DB before Pete Carroll turned him into a full-time RB at USC.
McKnight is not the first Jets player this year to cross over to the other side of the ball in practice. Cornerback Antonio Cromartie worked at wide receiver in training camp with the expectation that Gang Green would have a “Cro Package” for him. Cromartie, of course, declared himself the second-best wideout on the team in camp.