Running Back Roulette
Cortland, NY – The running back group was all set to be one of the most intriguing battles throughout camp, but they certainly didn’t get off to a good start.
Joe McKnight failed his physical on check-in day, forcing the team to put him on the physically unable to perform list until he passed the physical. McKnight passed the physical yesterday and re-joined his teammates on the practice field and he sure seemed to be in perfectly fine physical shape.
Chris Ivory felt some tightness in his hamstring and not wanting to push it this early in camp decided to take it easy and sit out the first couple of days, his hope is to get back out there on Sunday.
Then there’s the curious case of Mike Goodson. The Jets signed Goodson during the offseason hoping he would be able to compete for a starting, or at least a significant, role, then he went and got arrested on drugs and weapons charges. Goodson is conspicuously absent from training camp and while the team knows why Goodson can’t be here, they’re not letting anyone else in on the secret.
“I know where he is and all that stuff and I guess that’s all I’m going to leave it at.” A cryptic Rex Ryan said, “I said what I said about Mike, and I’m just going to leave it at that. I don’t really want to get into the specifics and what I know and all that kind of stuff.”
The NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported that Goodson is “addressing a few ‘personal matters’ and Jets have been supportive. Unrelated to his arrest.” Still Ryan didn’t sound like he was expecting Goodson to be joining anytime soon, which would certainly throw a monkey wrench in their plans.
Ivory said the decision to sit out is about, “Limitation, just precaution.” Muscular issues a reporter asked?, “Precaution. I don’t want to come back and make things worse.” Ivory said.
“Probably not tomorrow (Saturday), we’re going to see how it feels today or tonight and come back tomorrow and see how I feel, after that I should be back probably by Sunday.” Ivory said, “I’m excited. I wouldn’t call it a set back, I would call it before it gets to the extreme point where I am sitting out a week or two so before I do that. I’d rather take some time off and make sure that I’m ready to go before I just jump out on the field.”
Ivory said he’s itching to get out on the field with his teammates and lower his shoulder to bowl over defenders, but he insists he’s not frustrated.
“That’s not frustrating to me, I’d rather make sure I’m taking the right measures and heal all the way before I get out there and then it be a two week injury. Because right now I’m not injured, I just have tightness.” Ivory said, “I just want to be more smart about what I’m doing, that’s what I’m focused on. I don’t want to sit out two or three games or whatever it may be. I’d rather it be one practice or the first two days or whatever it is and come back and go strong.”
With Goodson not here and Ivory out the Jets are back to where they were this time last year, minus Shonn Greene, which give McKnight, Bilal Powell and even more so John Griffin a chance to prove they can be a productive cog in the Jets offense.
Griffin had a strong mini-camp last year before suffering an injury early in training camp forcing the Jets to go in another direction. This year Griffin repeated his impressive mini-camp performance and will look to stay healthy and continue to make a big enough impression to lock up a roster spot.
He certainly got Ryan’s attention as yesterday Ryan said, “That little Griffin guy is showing out a little bit.”
If Goodson doesn’t end up re-joining the team Griffin’s chances of making the active roster obviously improve greatly and he’d practically have a practice squad spot locked up. Griffin is a thick, stocky, back with some real quickness and shiftiness and he’s a reliable target out of the backfield.
This group of backs doesn’t have a single player who has ever been the guy at running back, causing them all to fly under the radar, but the key to the group clicking as a whole will be new offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg using each back to their specific skill traits and we’ve already seen glimpses of this during mini-camp as Mornhinweg has shown more creativity this offseason than Tony Sparano showed all of last year.
Individually none of these backs have the clout to scare opposing defenses by themselves at this point in the season, but as a whole this is a confident group that feels like the compliment each other nicely.
“A group of great backs that are probably considered underrated, under the radar.” Ivory said, “But all together, us as a whole, make a great core.”
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