Rex Ryan is getting creative with his roster


Rex Ryan is getting creative with his roster

From Comcast SportsNetFLORHAM PARK, N.J. (AP) -- Joe McKnight walked into the Jets' offensive meeting room and Rex Ryan broke the news to the backup running back."He said I've been traded," McKnight recalled Wednesday. "I was traded to the defense."McKnight will start working "a ton" at cornerback to help offset the loss of All-Pro Darrelle Revis, who's likely out for the season with a knee injury. McKnight, whose role on offense has been limited this season, played the position in high school and practiced at cornerback in Week 2 when Revis was sidelined by a concussion.Still, finding out about his new role on Monday wasn't exactly an exciting moment for McKnight."I mean, I was drafted as a running back," the former Southern California star said. "The way I took it as was I wasn't good enough to play running back. I don't know if that's the case or not, but that's the way I'm looking at it right now."McKnight didn't ask Ryan if that was the situation, and insisted he's not disappointed. After all, it could mean getting on the field a lot more after carrying the ball just three times for 14 yards in three games."I kind of get tired of just standing on the sideline watching," McKnight said. "I'm just happy to play right now."McKnight practiced on defense Wednesday, wearing a green No. 25 jersey instead of the offense's usual white, and intercepted Mark Sanchez, Tim Tebow and Greg McElroy once each."He'll have a role on offense, but we're also teaching him to play corner in almost, not quite a full-time capacity, but he's going to be over there a ton -- in the meetings and everything else," Ryan said.Ryan first mentioned the idea of using McKnight in the secondary in the running back's rookie season in 2010. McKnight, who's also the team's primary kickoff returner, even got into New York's game at Baltimore last season on defense as a blitzing defensive back who forced Joe Flacco into throwing an interception."He's a guy we saw on scout team as a rookie that he has the necessary skills to be able to play corner," Ryan said. "He's got the speed, the size, the athleticism, the ball skills -- everything you look for in a corner. ... I definitely would not bet against Joe McKnight becoming a good corner."Revis tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee at Miami on Sunday, and will be replaced by Kyle Wilson as a starter. While the Jets also have Ellis Lankster and Isaiah Trufant as backups, the athletic McKnight gives Ryan another option in the secondary.McKnight was actually an outstanding cornerback in high school in Louisiana, returning three picks for touchdowns in his junior season."It's been a while since I've played cornerback," he said. "Maybe if I would've played it four years in college, that would've helped. But me playing cornerback in high school doesn't help me right now. I've got to work on some things."He was even better as a running back back then, with his speed and shiftiness making him a top recruit after his senior year. After an up-and-down career at USC, the Jets drafted him in the fourth round in 2010 -- but he hasn't yet made the impact on offense that was expected. Instead, New York is hoping McKnight can help make up for the loss of arguably the league's top defensive player.And that might start Sunday, when the Jets take on the San Francisco 49ers."Hey, they can go ahead and do it," McKnight said. "I'm ready for it. If they want to come throw to my side, I can easily show them I can play."

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A quarter-century old, Oriole Park at Camden Yards still setting the standard

A quarter-century old, Oriole Park at Camden Yards still setting the standard

Next year, Oriole Park at Camden Yards will celebrate its 25th anniversary, and it’s still great.

According to a survey of all 30 major league ballparks by Stadium Journey, it’s ranked the highest. 

I’m often asked about my favorite ballparks. I’ve been to 53 major league parks—all 30 current ones—and 23 no longer in use. 

Of the 30 contemporary ones, and I’m including Atlanta’s Turner Field, which will be replaced for next season by SunTrust Park, there aren’t any awful ones. 

Even some of the ones that Stadium Journey ranks among the lowest—Milwaukee’s Miller Park, Chicago’s U.S. Cellular Field, Tampa Bay’s Tropicana Field, Miami’s Marlins Park and Oakland’s Coliseum, have some redeeming features for fans. 

The park we’re most familiar with here has some competition for the top spot. San Francisco’s AT&T Park and Pittsburgh’s PNC Park have many champions and are highly rated in this survey. In particular, I’m impressed with the Giants’ home with its dynamic view of the Bay and intimate feel. 


Stadium Journey inexplicably rates Yankee Stadium 29th. Its atmosphere is great, if a bit busy, and though it’s extremely expensive, the ballpark remains impressive. 

What’s most striking about the survey is that a ballpark that’s now in middle age is still so well regarded. Most of the parks that came after it, and 21 of the 30 are newer, are still well behind Oriole Park in many ways. 

Three years ago the Braves announced they were going to replace Turner Field, built for the 1996 Olympics, and it hosted its first baseball game five years after Camden Yards. 

While that was a shock, it shouldn’t then be surprising that Texas’ Globe Life Park in Arlington (opened in 1995) and Arizona’s Chase Field (1998) may soon be replaced. 

The Orioles’ home doesn’t look much different than it did in 1992. It truly revolutionized ballparks, and those that were built just before it, Toronto’s Rogers Centre (opened in 1989) and U.S. Cellular Field (1991) look as if they’re from a different and faraway time. 

A few years back, the Orioles added a roof deck in center field, but other than that, there haven’t been many major changes though the team continues to study improvements. 

There are certainly a few things that be improved. Other than Boog’s Barbecue, the food choices, particularly for non-meat eaters aren’t great, the sound system isn’t wonderful, and compared with many newer stadiums, the scoreboard is small and sometimes hard to read. 

Watching a game at Oriole Park is still wonderful. The view is great, and while it’s disappointing when the stands aren’t full, the ticket and particularly the parking prices, aren’t terribly expensive, especially when compared with Nationals Park. 

One of my favorite parts of covering a game there are the fans. During the 2014 season, I began showing off their dedication by showcasing a jersey of a former Oriole each game.

Most fans wear a jersey featuring a current favorite: Chris Davis, J.J. Hardy, Adam Jones and Manny Machado, but I enjoy finding an obscure one. 

How many other parks have fans wearing jerseys of players from 40 40 or 50 years ago? This past season, I found fans wearing Luis Aparacio, Curt Blefary and Dave McNally jerseys. 

While Oriole Park has yet to host a World Series, there’s still hope. When it was still new, Cleveland’s Progressive Field, then Jacobs Field, hosted World Series in 1995 and 1997.

At that time, it vied with Camden Yards as one of baseball’s top parks. More than two decades later, it’s fallen to the middle of the pack. 

The hope here is that 25 years from now, Oriole Park will continue to provide joy to fans in this area, and that it will still be considered one of baseball’s best. 


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Five reasons why it will take more than a bye week to fix the Ravens' woes

Five reasons why it will take more than a bye week to fix the Ravens' woes

Taking a four-game losing streak into their bye week, the Ravens (3-4) are reeling.

After starting the season with three consecutive wins, the Ravens have dropped four straight, including a woeful Week 7 loss to the Jets in which the team blew a 10-0 lead. 

The best news for the Ravens is that the AFC North remains a three-team race among the Steelers (4-3), Bengals (3-4), and Ravens.

However, here are five reasons why the Ravens will need more than a bye week to fix what’s wrong:


1. The offense has been inept all season.

In four of their seven games, the Ravens have scored just one touchdown. Firing offensive coordinator Marc Trestman two games ago didn’t fix it. New offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg can tweak the offense during the bye, but he can’t change the players. The offensive issues with this team run far deeper than the coordinator.

“It’s never too late, but we have to put it together and put it together fast,” said tight end Dennis Pitta.

2. Lack of speed in the secondary is leading to big plays.

For two straight weeks, two fleet receivers, Odell Beckham Jr. of the Giants and Quincy Enunwa of the Jets, have taking a short pass and turned it into a long touchdown. Ravens safety Lardarius Webb was blown by both times, and the hamstring injury suffered by Webb on Sunday could lead to his days as a starter being over. And remember, still have to face two of the NFL’s top receivers twice – Antonio Brown of the Steelers, and A. J. Green of the Bengals.

3. Killer instinct is something the Ravens have lacked.

 That admission was made by coach John Harbaugh after Sunday’s 24-16 loss to the Jets.

“Killer instinct is executing when you get ahead, putting people away and making plays, taking advantage of the fact that they’re down,” Harbaugh said. “Whatever killer instinct translates to, we certainly don’t have it right now.”

They led 10-0 against the Jets. They led 10-0 against the Giants in Week 6. They led 10-7 at halftime against the Redskins in Week 5, but Baltimore was shutout in the second half.  And the Ravens led the Raiders, 27-21, in the fourth quarter in Week 4, only to lose 28-27 after the touchdown catch by Raiders wide receiver Michael Crabtree.

Yet the Ravens (3-4) lost all four games. Even when they get leads, they don’t usually play well enough to keep them.

4. The schedule gets tougher.

The Ravens have two games against the arch rival Steelers, who lead the division. They have two games against the Bengals, who had beaten the Ravens five straight times. They have road games against the Patriots (6-1) and Cowboys (5-1). The Ravens also face the surprising Eagles (4-2), which is the Ravens’ final home game in Week 15.

Even if the Ravens play better after the bye, better competition could prevent them from having better results.

The Ravens are 26-29 since winning Super Bowl XLVII.

The Ravens believe in reloading, not rebuilding. But they only have nine games left to avoid missing the playoffs for the third time in four years.