Versatility has become a hallmark of Patriots players under Bill Belichick, as the head coach has long sought multi-positional players who can contribute at more than a single spot on the field.
Belichick and the Patriots have also found players capable of playing multiple positions on offense or defense, or who even contribute on both sides of the ball, a list that includes former Patriots great Troy Brown and current receivers Julian Edelman and Matthew Slater, who both logged defensive snaps in 2011.
As it turns out, the Patriots' upcoming opponent, the New York Jets, has their own share of multi-positional players too.
QUARTERBACK TIM TEBOW
Tebow, acquired this offseason via a trade with the Broncos, is nominally described as the Jets' backup quarterback, but has played a more involved role than his title would suggest. He's been used all over the offensive formation, as Belichick indicated on Tuesday (link here). He can carry the football as a back, align in a wide receiver spot, and also serves as the Jets' personal protector on the punt team. While debate remains over whether Tebow will successfully assimilate himself as a long-term NFL starting quarterback, he still offers value to play a number of roles on a roster.
RUNNING BACK JOE McKNIGHT
The former USC standout is an explosive weapon for the Jets, and not just from the backfield. Besides his contributions as a running back (including 71 yards in the Jets' Week 6 win over Indianapolis), McKnight is amongst the most dangerous kick returners in the league, and already has a return touchdown this season. On top of that, McKnight has also been tabbed to help the Jets' defense as it continues to deal with the loss of star cornerback Darrelle Revis (ACL).
CORNERBACK ANTONIO CROMARTIE
Cromartie is off to a strong start on defense this season, with three interceptions in just six games. He's also been a lethal returner during portions of his career. But throw in the fact that he's also used on occasion on offense, and he's become one of the more versatile players the Patriots will face this season. Bill Belichick praised Cromartie's ball skills on Tuesday, and it would come as little surprise to see him align as an outside receiver and streak down the field on a shot play, something he has done already this season.