Powell stepping into bigger role

September, 6, 2012
9/06/12
7:55
PM ET
Bilal Powell won't have to wait 11 weeks to receive a carry this year.

Powell enters this season as the Jets' third-down back and should receive carries against Buffalo on Sunday. While coach Rex Ryan said Powell and Joe McKnight share the team's No. 2 role, Powell received more carries during the preseason.

"Whenever my opportunity comes I'm going to make the best of every opportunity," Powell said.

Ryan described Powell, a fourth-round pick in 2011, as a back who has the skill set to be an effective runner, pass protect and receive. While Powell didn't get a carry until Week 11 last year and had just 13 carries for 21 yards all season, Ryan praised his mental toughness.

"He looks slimmer to me and I love the way he protects," Ryan said. "He puts his face in there in that protection. He's a very aggressive blocker and that's what you have to be to pick up these linebackers blitzing and things like that. Really happy with where he's at."

When the team drafted Powell, it was hoping he could replace LaDainian Tomlinson at some point. With Tomlinson now retired, there's an opening to be the No. 2 back and Powell is making the most of his opportunities thus far.

He rushed 26 times for 92 yards in the preseason and is earning praise from those who have seen him. Offensive coordinator Tony Sparano commended Powell, saying he has shown the team everything it has hoped to see from the second-year player out of Louisville.

"He's looked great," Jets lead running back Shonn Greene said. "He's done a great job and he's learned how to become a professional and he's done a great job at it."

Matt Ehalt

ESPN New York contributor

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