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Offensive Sleeper? Keller Likes McKnight

Posted by Eric Allen on July 18, 2012 – 2:53 pm

It’s awfully quiet here at the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center.

The Jets’ 2012 training camp officially kicks off with player check-in day next Thursday, but that will take place 200 miles to the northwest at SUNY Cortland. Anticipation is building and you wonder which players are going to make some noise this summer.

“I think you need to watch out for Joe McKnight. People ask me and he’s my sleeper for the team,” said TE Dustin Keller. “Obviously nobody is low on Joe, but I think he has so much more upside than people even realize. He’s a great running back, he can catch the ball out of the backfield and he can do so many different things for you. He’s a good special teams guy, returning punts and kickoffs, whatever. He’s definitely a major X-factor for us.”

Keller, who has led the Green & White in receptions each of the past two seasons, says the Jets are going to become more reliant on their ground game than they were in 2011. Last year they rushed the ball 43% of the time (443 rushes in 1,030 plays). In Mark Sanchez’s second season, the team had an almost even balance at 49% (534-1,087). And in Rex Ryan’s first season as head coach and Sanchez’s rookie campaign, the Jets kept on the ground on 59% of their plays (607-1,030).

“I think the identity of Coach Sparano’s offense is obviously ‘Ground and Pound.’ That’s something he wants to instill in the team, that we are a run-first team, but we definitely can still throw the ball,” Keller said. “We have a lot of weapons out there. We went and made some things happen in the draft with Stephen Hill, obviously Santonio is there, Patrick Turner and Jeremy Kerley — so many guys that can make big plays out there. Just to think, with those types of guys at the receiver position and it’s still our secondary option, it kind of has to make you excited for what’s coming up in the season.”

The element of explosion was often absent from the Jets offense last year and a lot of teams dared them to beat them down the field. So in response, the Green & White picked up Chaz Schilens in free agency and then happily moved up to get Georgia Tech’s Stephen Hill in the second round. And with LaDainian Tomlinson moving on into retirement, McKnight is going to get more opportunities carrying the rock and running pass patterns down the field. Kerley, coming off a solid first pro season, has dynamic feet and should be a handful in the slot.

More speed and more quickness on the field should equate to more space to roam.

“I think with the addition of Stephen Hill and you already have Jeremy Kerley, guys that can stretch the field and put that pressure on a defense way down the field, that’s going to make things a lot easier for guys such as myself working the middle of the field or guys like Santonio on the outside,” Keller said. “It’s going to draw a little bit of attention away and hopefully we can get those 1-on-1 matchups and take advantage of them.”

Jets TV will air our full exclusive 1-on-1 with Dustin Keller next week here on newyorkjets.com. We visited with Dustin on location down in South Carolina where he owns a number of McAlister’s Delis and that television feature, focusing on his restaurant business, will be seen during the season on “Jets Flight Plan,” which will air again on WCBS-TV.

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Posted in Eric Allen | 38 Comments »

38 Responses to “Offensive Sleeper? Keller Likes McKnight”

  1. By IRA on Jul 18, 2012 | Reply

    I think McKnight will step up and be that 3rd down RB to catch passes out of the backfield. I am not sold yet that he could carry the full load if he had too. So if they are going to get back to running the ball 550 times this year well either Ganaway will get some work, Tebow will get a bunch of carries and either Powell steps up or they sign a veteran.

  2. By Bennett on Jul 18, 2012 | Reply

    Picture this :
    ” Boss Sanchez’s bike aint on the plane”
    ” What do you mean it aint on the plane ”
    ” Just what I said boss it aint nowheres on the plane someone must have goofed”
    What are we going to do it’s cold up here he needs a bike ”
    “I asked Belicheck”s people and they said no way we going to give stinkin’ Sanchez one of our bikes… the dirty rats!”
    ” Does Rex know?”
    “I aint tellin him boss whata you nuts he’ll flip out on me”
    “Listen you you go tell Rex Sanchez’s bike aint on the plane right now”

  3. By scjoe on Jul 18, 2012 | Reply

    Forget a “sleeper” at the RB position, go out and sign Benson before it is to late and we wont have to worry about finding a “sleeper”
    Tom Spicer, in answer to your question from a previous story, no, you don’t ignore the talent potential of Landry. My point was, because he became available without compensation, you have to be wary of the “red flags” red flags actually come in many colors, whether they are injury concerns, off field concerns, or salary cap concerns, you have to ask yourself, how can a guy with so much talent be allowed to hit free agency UNLESS there is a red flag.

  4. By ron alexander on Jul 18, 2012 | Reply

    I think this is a really good subject at this time. A lot of us are curious to see McKnight with the extra muscle on him and what he can do with a bigger role. L.T’s retirement is a big opportunity for him to step up and show the organization he is the player we drafted so high two+ years ago.The guys is fast,elusive and now with a little more meat on his bones he should be able to handle the pounding he will no doubt take this year.Keller makes an excellent point about Hill,Schillens and Kurleys deep threat opening up things underneath for himself,holmes and of course McKnight. I will be very dissappointed if McKnight is not used on the wheel-routes L.T. used to run. I doubt there are many L.B’s who can cover him.

  5. By Jet Fan Since '64 Tom on Jul 18, 2012 | Reply

    Nice to hear Keller talking like someone who wants to score some points. In Rex’s weird vision of this franchise, sometimes it seems almost like you’re supposed to believe that more than 24 points on O is unnecessary, or excessive, or downright impossible…

  6. By SCfromNY on Jul 18, 2012 | Reply

    I agree with everything that has been said. BUT it will all depend on Sanchez coming back to a 2010 attitude with more knowledge of the game’ Knowledge of the game is not “first one in, last one out”. You need to be able to read a defense not read about it.My biggest issue is if something should stall Sanchez’z development, physical or mental, both Rex and Tanny will be so busy praising Tebow and be “head in the sand” about Tebow’s QB ability. When we had Pennington there was Clemons and training camp favorite Ratliff,to take over. Not that they were great but they were QBs.I hope they will not ignore the development of McElroy. Results with Tebow as QB IMO at best 7-9. Another bad year.

  7. By danny on Jul 18, 2012 | Reply

    I think Mcnight is gonna have a big yr for us too. He showed last yr how explosive he is so if he is a veteran now and can hold onto the ball he will be a huge weapon for us. U seen when Greene went down vs denver he came in and was explosive in screen passes and when he hit the hole even running up the gut he hit it so fast and picked up yards before he was even hit. yes he is not powerful but he always gets yds with his quickness and has abilty to get us big chunk plays and big explosive long TD’s by making 1 or 2 guys miss in the open field. i don’t even have to mention he showed he can catch the ball down field running deep ins and outs. That’s impressive for a RB

  8. By Karan on Jul 18, 2012 | Reply

    Jeremy Kerley and Joe McKnight should both be really special for the Jets this year. Both look like promising young stars on the rise.

  9. By Karan on Jul 18, 2012 | Reply

    Looks like our No.1 and No.3 WR spots are locked in at Santonio Holmes and Jeremy Kerley, respectively. Looks like No. 2 spot will be a battle between Stephen Hill, Chaz Schilens and Patrick Turner. I think all three options are really good, let’s see who wins. Whatever happens, I sure hope we get to keep all these 5 wideouts on the 53-man roster or whatever it is now.

  10. By IRA on Jul 19, 2012 | Reply

    No surprise about Leonhard not coming back. Great guy, amazing athlete for his size and wish him all the best. Watch he will end up in Foxboro!

  11. By Jack on Jul 19, 2012 | Reply

    I’m all for the Ground and Pound been waiting for a running game since Leon Washington left the team. Just hope that offensive lines hold up this season.

  12. By IRA on Jul 19, 2012 | Reply

    Karan, Hill is still very raw but will make plays but don’t expect a 50 catch year his rookie year and Schilens and Turner are possession WR’s. Don’t be surprised if Kerley lines up as the #2 at time. Spaprano will use him like he used Bess. And lets not forget Keller is their #1 target. You have to factor that in.

  13. By ron alexander on Jul 19, 2012 | Reply

    JACK< good call on Leon Washington.What a shame he had that terriable injury. He was one of my favorite Jets.(Kind of a more powerful Bruce Harper)Hate to give Tanney any credit but as cold hearted as it was he did the right thing letting him go.Leon hasn't done much for Seattle. Ira, Although I loved his moxey and his sure hands as a punt returner I cant say I will miss watching Leonard man beating him on a long pass or running over him.Also, as you said Hill is raw, but dont underestimate his potential to be a major player this year. Speed is speed and with his size he will force defences to at least pay alot of attention to him which should open things up for Holmes,Keller,Kerley and of course McKnight out of the backfield.

  14. By ron alexander on Jul 19, 2012 | Reply

    BENNETT,whats up my man? You o.k? that last post was a little out there bro!(even for you!)How’s your recovery going? Danny, as bad as Joe is concerning his negativity, you are definately the prince of optimism! Good stuff my man!S.C. Joe, You did a great job making your point to SPICER. I think somtimes we become enamored with a players bio’s or stats, or whatever and we want to project greatness for the wrong reasons. I agree with you 100% on Landry. Too many red flags!Too much non-production,and a major question mark regarding his health? Not sure we shouldn’t be asking the same questions about Benson though? Why is he available? whats up with his short yardage failures last year?More red-flags

  15. By SCfromNY on Jul 19, 2012 | Reply

    I think McKnight will do a real go job. I hope his extra weight is in his lower body. I remember years ago the Giants drafted Butch Wolfolk and he was decent like Greene is. When Wolfolk went down Joe Morris took over and they never looked back. If you look at the size of some of the most successful RBs McKnight fits in there. I hope he has a great year. If Tebow will embrace his role, as he professes to he will be a huge asset.

  16. By dougmc on Jul 19, 2012 | Reply

    McKnight is a terrific talent and should explode this year…TE position seems weak unless that Hayden Smith guy is a sleeper as well. Cumberland needs to step up. Suprised we didnt look at Shincoe and the Pats did. Love the fact that the media thinks Jets will struggle with Sanchez. Being underrated will help us. Defense will be lights out and with Sparano the “O” will have a new identity and look to maul people.

  17. By jetsfan80 on Jul 19, 2012 | Reply

    Echo Karan’s statement on Kerley and McKnight. They’re my sleeper picks this year.

  18. By scjoe on Jul 19, 2012 | Reply

    Ron, here what you are saying about Benson, my son is a die hard Bengals fan, he follows them very closely, he tells me Benson was a model citizen and a model teammate in Cincy. I don’t think there are any red flags there. As for the cap? As I mentioned, I don’t think he will sign for the veteran minimum, but he wont break the bank either, aside from all of that he is an upgrade at that position. Landry? I hope that those red flags I referred to all turn green in a hurry, because “if” this guy is truly injury free he too is a definite upgrade at his position, but if not it is just another band aid that falls off very quickly.

  19. By Jet Fan Since '64 Tom on Jul 19, 2012 | Reply

    ron a, other than the game in which he returned 2 kickoffs for TDs, Leon has done nothing for SEA because he still really hasn’t recovered from that injury. I suspect it was too big a setback for a player of his size and skill set. If you watch him out of the backfield, he’s still incredibly hesitant and without any power. It was literally only toward the end of last yr when he carried the ball even once or twice in a game to any real results. So all that nonsense about holding onto him was just that, nonsense, and he turned down 2 incredibly lucrative deals from us. The bottom line is he, and his loudmouth wife, didn’t want to be here. We ought to play the RBs we have instead of looking backward.

  20. By Karan on Jul 19, 2012 | Reply

    I agree with ya IRA, I have a feeling he will end up in NE. Belichick always takes former Jet players. I wish Leonhard the best of luck, but if he ends up in NE, he’s enemy no.1 in our books, as well as everyone else in that organization.

  21. By Chicago Bob on Jul 19, 2012 | Reply

    scjoe – forget the Cedric Benson talk, the guy is trouble. When you have a team like the Jets trying to clean up the locker room, Benson is one of the last guys you want. He was a pain in Chicago and if Marvin Lewis doesn’t want you back, then that tells you something. In regards to Leonard, I think we all agree that there is a solid chance he will be playing for the Pats next year should he pass a physical.

  22. By Arte Olde School Section 327 on Jul 19, 2012 | Reply

    Hey ya’ll.. Been quietly watching this upcoming season come to fruition.. Am most excited about what this year has in store for us Jet Nation:

    1) NO MORE SCHOTTY!!!!!! I CANNOT TELL YOU HOW HAPPY I AM HE’S GONE!!!!! It was a Long Time Coming.. How many leads are we going to give away this year like we did in the Pitt playoff game??
    2) Our defense is going to be #1, relentless – especially on 3rd down.. We were fine last year on 1st & 2nd but would ALWAYS gave up the 3rd & long to some over the middle last second dump off.. No more 3rd options here!!!!! Rex has got that squared away – just watch… 3 and OUT all day long!!!
    3) Ground and Pound + BALL/TIME CONTROL == LOW SCORING AFFAIRS.. Once we get to the winter NO ONE CAN TOUCH US! GO JE

  23. By scjoe on Jul 19, 2012 | Reply

    Chicago Bob, I disagree. Benson has been nothing but a model citizen and teammate in Cincy. The reason Cincy did not resign him is because they are committed to the younger backs like Scott and Peerman and the fact they signed Greene Ellis in the off season. They also have Brian Leonard on the roster along with a couple of rookies. It was strictly a numbers thing in Cincy. The Jets on the other hand don’t have that luxury. I will stand by my comment that he would immediately move to the top of the depth chart with this team.

  24. By Jet Fan Since '64 Tom on Jul 20, 2012 | Reply

    Arte, weren’t you telling me at mid-season last yr that the Knicks were gonna win the championship because of Lin? I’ll believe some of these predictions you’re making for the Jets when I see a fraction of that potential on the field. Especially if Revis holds out again and screws up half his season like last time.

  25. By danny on Jul 20, 2012 | Reply

    Benson is a solid RB but not a stud so i don’t see him as a major upgrade over Shonne Greene. As the Bengals wanna give there young rbs a chance I agree and feel we should too. If Benson was a superstar RB I doubt Cinci would rather go with there younger backs too. Greene, Mcnight, Gannaway and on occasion Mr, Tebow is what we need to go with not DECENT Benson

  26. By Jimmer on Jul 20, 2012 | Reply

    Speaking of RB’s, why is Powell still around?
    We ARE still weak at TE.
    We are still weak on the OL as well.
    I think Hill will start from day 1 and Tanny ends up looking like a mad genius from this draft.
    Our O is not gonna scare anyone, that job will fall to the D. But, the dink and dunk Shotty philosophy hit the road, and the offense will be respected for a change. Maybe even from those on this site.

  27. By adrian on Jul 20, 2012 | Reply

    RUNNING GAME WILL BE TOP 5 IN THE LEAGUE THIS YEAR. LINE IS STRONG JUST NEED TO start game running the ball not throwing it on all three downs. watch us start the season with 35-40 rushes first 2 or 3 weeks. jets wiil win 10 or more this year.if we use tebow as te and fb then go from 2 or 3 wr set to no huddle with tebow from te or fb to wild cat and teams cant bring in more lbs nickel d will have a hard time with that holmes hill kerly tebow greeen or mknight. just a thoughyt go jets

  28. By adrian on Jul 20, 2012 | Reply

    our problem running the ball last year was o-lineman want to start games running so they can start firing out and start to be aggresive. last year started games trying to trick everyone.

  29. By Jet Fan Since '64 Tom on Jul 21, 2012 | Reply

    Starting Hill and a QB who can throw to him, Holmes, and Kerley would definitely get my respect, Jimmer. I can barely type the words, though, without wondering if that isn’t a pipe dream given the way this team approaches O. Maybe Sparano will be the one to get us of of the Dark Ages of 1950s Football a la Rex Ryan.

  30. By IRA on Jul 21, 2012 | Reply

    A little surprised Revis will show up. I still think the story is not done yet. Hope the bike is not waiting for him to ride up in camp. If he does play this year with no nonsense in camp then the Jets are either going to have to break the bank after this year or during 2013 or trade him then. He becomes a free agent in 2014 and they can’t use the tag according to reports.
    My bad about Turner i thought he followed Callahan to Dallas. He is with Clemens, Mulligan and Schotty in St Louis.

  31. By ron alexander on Jul 21, 2012 | Reply

    Ira, yeah, glad he’s reporting too. Hope he doesn’t join Sanchez doing the “tour DeFarce” on the side lines with the bikes. Bennett, we will need two bikes on the plane oh my? I hope Revis doesn’t become a big distraction come training camp. I have always looked forward to training camp every year because it signals the start of a new season.(of course it would be nice to look forward to the games but lately,not so much(L.O.L!)

  32. By Jet Fan Since '64 Tom on Jul 21, 2012 | Reply

    Then we should trade Revis now, Ira, and get it over with. He’s not going to mean much on the 8-8 or so team we’re gonna have this yr and it would be nice to put two good drafts in a row together for a change.

  33. By FrankTrain on Jul 22, 2012 | Reply

    I’m pretty excited for the jets this season, Tebow running the wildcat with Mcknight and possibly Ganaway ( Due to his experience in Baylors spread formations ) and I believe Mark Sanchez will have a breakout year.

    On another note Randy, with the new feature that allows people to watch Jets games online, can we watch these games live? ( I live in NC ) so I get stuck watching Panther games instead.

  34. By Randy Lange on Jul 22, 2012 | Reply

    Frank Train, if you’re referring to the NFL’s tablet-access preseason games package, yes, games are shown live with some exceptions. The price is $19.99. You can find out more at NFL.com.

  35. By ron alexander on Jul 23, 2012 | Reply

    TOM64, Not a bad idea about trading Revis, but you of all people should know it simply cant be done now because of salary cap issues.(truthfully,the cap stuff is so complicare I have no clue how to explain it!) The other problem is giving Tanney two extra draft picks! That would be like handing a grenade to a 2 year old with the pin already pulled! I mean really, Tanney would just trade the picks to New England for a pair of used shoulder pads and a jock-strap to be named later. Listen dude, this is a no-lose season for you. If we play well and have a good season we will all be happy. If we stink it up and have a lousey year mabey Woody will wise up and get rid of Tanney, Rex and Sanchez?

  36. By Steve on Jul 24, 2012 | Reply

    O-line will be fine!
    Running game fine
    safty position fail!

  37. By rubin on Jul 25, 2012 | Reply

    j. ohta could be a major upgrade if healthy.I don’t see landry helping too much with his achilles tendon.I too am happy that got rid of shotty.

  38. By Nicole Pollina on Mar 31, 2013 | Reply

    I am having great difficulty finding Dustin Keller’s interview at McAllister’s Deli in South Carolina. I have searched the web like crazy! Please help me find it!

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