Jets RB Jonathan Grimes hears a `knock, knock' at the door
William & Mary coach Jimmye Laycock didn’t know much about Jonathan Grimes during spring practice in Grimes’ freshman year, outside of a few basics: He was a smart kid with a good motor, and had a nice family in South Jersey that made the recruiting process easy.
He also was an accomplished piano player — Laycock had seen Grimes play his gospel favorites for the rest of the players.
That was around the time when William & Mary’s depth chart took a hit during the spring in 2008, and Laycock lost his starting and backup running backs, leaving Grimes atop the list on the depth chart.
In Grimes he found a player who was relentless, who could return kicks, split out wide and carry the ball. The Palmyra native went on to win the Colonial Athletic Association Conference rookie of the year award, and eventually became the school’s all-time leading rusher (4,541 yards), leader in all-purpose yards (7,955 yards) and leader in attempts (936).
Laycock didn’t see it coming, but he wasn’t complaining.
“The only way to go half speed was to take him out,” Laycock said in a phone interview Tuesday. “He’s got the whole package.”
Jets running backs coach Anthony Lynn likely didn’t know much more than Laycock once did when he approached Grimes this week with a similar situation: Second-string running back Bilal Powell is out at least a few weeks with a separated shoulder and third-string running back Joe McKnight will likely miss Sunday’s game at New England with an ankle injury.
On Monday, Lynn walked up to the No. 4 running back on his depth chart and coolly offered him another opportunity: “Well, looks like you’re going to be up. Get ready and stay on top of everything.”
As of now, Grimes is the only other running back on the active roster, behind starter Shonn Greene.
“I’m always preparing like I’m going to start a game,” said Grimes, who was signed off the Texans’ practice squad on Sept. 25. “I learned that from a young age. You never know what’s going to happen and you can’t guarantee when you’re going to get thrown into the fire.”
Grimes, 22, said he was looking forward to moving closer to home, where the path toward the playing field seemed a little clearer. In Houston, he was relegated to the practice squad, lodged behind Arian Foster, Ben Tate and Justin Forsett.
The day Grimes arrived, McKnight was already off with the cornerbacks and it seemed like he wasn’t so buried on the depth chart.
“It’s an opportunity, that’s why I came here, an opportunity to eventually play,” Grimes said. “The opportunity to play here looked a lot more promising than back in Houston, where they got Arian, Tate and Forsett.
“I mean, they’ve got great backs here but it looks like an opportunity too good to pass up.”
Laycock said there wasn’t a specific moment that ended up allowing Grimes to run away with the starter’s job at William & Mary. There was no defining stiff arm or blistering run that remains etched in his mind.
Instead, there was a dependability to expect anything. He remembers three straight weeks during Grimes’ senior year where he couldn’t practice because of a sprained ankle, and three straight weeks where he still ran for more than 200 yards on Saturday.
Getting rid of him once he started getting the carries was the hardest part.
“I’ll fill in anybody’s shoes,” Grimes said. “It’s clearly the biggest opportunity I’ve gotten so far.”
Conor Orr: firstname.lastname@example.org
Lets see what the kid can do. Kinda cool that hes from Jersey.