- Matt Ehalt, ESPN New York contributor
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FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- If the Jets already know who their starting running back for this upcoming season is going to be, it's news to Joe McKnight.
"We got to get to camp and then you find out who the No. 1 running back is," McKnight said on Thursday. "We don't have no pads on, you can't really tell."
McKnight is one of four candidates to be the starter this season, although he appears to be the longshot. The team used a fourth-round pick to acquire Chris Ivory (the favorite to become the starter), and, legal problems aside, gave Mike Goodson a three-year, $6.9 million deal. Bilal Powell also returns after tallying more than three times the amount of carries McKnight had last year.
"Still got to put the pads on," McKnight said. "You don't play football games in no pads."
McKnight is entering what could be a make-or-break year for him in his fourth season. After being selected in the fourth round of the 2010 Draft, McKnight hasn't lived up to expectations. He has just 112 career carries for 502 yards and no touchdowns, although he has excelled as a return man. McKnight had 30 carries for 179 yards last season, but averaged 27.5 yards per kickoff return and even returned one for a score.
At the moment, McKnight appears to be fourth on the team's depth chart, behind the three aforementioned backs.
While Goodson's legal situation could change the dynamics of the backfield, as he has pleaded not guilty to five drug and weapon charges stemming from a May arrest, McKnight has some work to do if he wants to receive carries in the fall.
Earlier this offseason, McKnight said he's not going down without a fight.
"I don't care who they bring in. They're gonna have to kill me to take my spot," McKnight said in mid-May.
He added: "I'm not angry at all. I'm just tired of people just running their mouth, just talking about [how] I'm not gonna be here."
McKnight, 25, tweaked his ankle Wednesday, but participated fully in the final day of minicamp on Thursday and said he felt alright.
While most observers aren't that high on the Jets offense, McKnight likes what he's seen out of the unit thus far. McKnight didn't offer any insight into what type of role the team could be using him in this upcoming season.
"We could be real dynamic. We got four good running backs, we got a lot of good receivers that came in, we just got to stay together as a team," McKnight said. "When we get to camp, we got to work hard and be together as an offensive group."