Rex Ryan is getting creative with his roster

505523.jpg

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."

Quick Links

NHL Power Rankings: Trade season

NHL Power Rankings: Trade season

With the trade deadline on Wednesday, it's decision time for Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan. Should he buy, sell or stand pat?

The Caps have shown yet again that they are one of the top teams in the NHL, but no team is without its weaknesses. One could argue the Caps don't need to do add any pieces to the mix, but if they don't, others will. Could the competition close the gap on the Caps? If Washington does add a player, however, how do they make sure it's the right player, someone who will mesh well and will be able to make an instant impact?

Those are the questions keeping general managers across the league up at night.

Take note of this week's Power Rankings because it may look a lot different next week. Not because of what happens on the ice, but because of what happens on the trade market.

Quick Links

Redskins offseason questions: Will DeSean Jackson be back?

Redskins offseason questions: Will DeSean Jackson be back?

The good news for the 2016 Redskins was that they didn’t collapse after winning the division the previous season as has been their pattern in the past. The bad news was that they didn’t take the next step and improve from a franchise that can compete to make the playoffs into one that is playing multiple postseason games year in and year out.

That work begins right now for Jay Gruden, Scot McCloughan and the players. In the coming weeks, Redskins reporters Rich Tandler and JP Finlay will examine the biggest questions facing the Redskins as another offseason gets rolling.

RELATED: #RedskinsTalk podcast: Is Kirk too nice?

Will DeSean Jackson be back?

Tandler: For the second time in three seasons with the Redskins, DeSean Jackson led the NFL in yards per reception. In 2016, he averaged 17.9 yards per catch with 19 receptions that were good for more than 20 yards. The nine-year veteran was second on the team with 1,005 yards receiving.

That is some pretty solid production but the Redskins may have to find a way to replace it in 2017. Jackson is a free agent and his return to the team is very much in doubt.

During the season, Jackson said that he was looking forward to the experience of being in the free agency process for the first time in his career. He was a free agent in 2014 but he came to the Redskins after the Eagles cut him in April, well after most teams had finished with the process. Now he will be on the market with 32 potential suitors.

It seems likely that one of the 31 teams not called the Redskins will offer Jackson a contract that Washington will decline to match. He could get a deal with an average annual value in excess of $10 million and with Jamison Crowder eligible for an extension in a year and Pierre Garçon, also a pending free agent, possibly being a higher priority for the organization, it seems that will be too much for the Redskins.

Jackson may not have the offseason workout habits that the Redskins would like him to have but if it’s a matter of money then it will be understandable if he does end up leaving. Still, that production will have to be replaced and Jackson will get paid well precisely because few have his combination of speed and ball-tracking ability.

Finlay: Seems hard to see a scenario where DeSean comes back to the Redskins, and it will be a big loss for the team, and not just statistically. Jackson's elite speed and ball-tracking ability make him a threat that opposing defense's must constantly account for, in turn opening up the middle of the field for crossing routes and underneath patterns that Jamison Crowder and Jordan Reed run so well.

Money will be the deciding factor, as it almost always is. Jackson wants to get paid when he has a chance to look all around the league. There are plenty of teams that could make sense, starting with his old squad in Philadelphia and elsewhere around the league destinations like Tampa, Kansas City and even San Francisco could make sense. 

Asked about bringing back Pierre Garçon or Jackson, this quote from Jay Gruden at the end-of-season press conference speaks volumes about the team's plans for DeSean: 

When you finish a season in the National Football League, you’re probably dreaming if you think you’re going to have the exact same roster back as you had a year ago. We’re going to have a draft with new players. We’re going to have free agents. We’re going to lose some of our free agents. It’s our job to make sure we target the ones we definitely want back that really have an impact on this football team, not only from a talent standpoint but from a leadership standpoint. Both of those areas are very important to me, almost more so as a leadership standpoint. A lot of these guys have talent, but we have got to make sure we keep the great leaders in this building​.

More offseason questions: 

What are reasonable expectations for Josh Doctson?

— Will there be a surprise salary cap cut?

— Should the Redskins defense switch to the 4-3?

— Is Spencer Long the answer at center?

— How many D-linemen do the Redskins need?

— Should the Redskins draft another QB? 

— With Sean McVay gone, will the Redskins run the ball more?

— Can Cravens handle the transition to safety? 

— Will the Redskins re-sign Pierre Garçon? 

— Will Rob Kelley be the lead running back in 2017?

— Defense in the first round?

— Will they make a change at left guard?

— Will Cousins take the next step?

— Will Baker be back?

<<<LOOKING AT REDSKINS DRAFT PROSPECTS>>>

Want more Redskins? Check out @JPFinlayCSN and @Rich_TandlerCSN for live updates or click here for the #RedskinsTalk Podcast on iTunes, here for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!