AFC East High Energy Player of the Week

January, 4, 2011
1/04/11
3:00
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A look at a player who gave his team a significant boost in Week 17.

ESPN.com left it up to each blogger to interpret how he wanted to handle the weekly High Energy award.

Some simply treated it like a player of the week award. I chose to honor someone from the supporting cast who raised his game and made a distinct difference.

Maybe he was coming off an injury, breaking out of a slump, recently promoted from the practice squad, a rookie still learning his way or previously waived by another team. He could a star, but not playing like one at the time.

Winning also was emphasized. Some weeks, only one AFC East team won, narrowing the field. Just once all season was a player from a losing team selected, and that was when the winless Buffalo Bills nearly pulled off a stunning victory. They deserved to be thrown a bone.

For fun, I turned over the selection process to my readers before Thanksgiving. While I didn't always agree with the vote, the readers upheld the spirit of the award and avoided voting for Tom Brady every week.

With those criteria in mind, there was one fitting choice to close out the High Energy performer award for the 2010 season.

[+] EnlargeJoe McKnight
Al Bello/Getty ImagesNew York Jets running back Joe McKnight had 32 carries for 158 yards against the Buffalo Bills in Week 17.
The lone reasonable option for Week 17 was Juggernaut Joe McKnight.

McKnight's rookie campaign with the New York Jets began with him throwing up at his first NFL workout. It actually got worse from there. He went into Sunday's game against the Buffalo Bills with 31 rushing yards, a deplorable total when you consider his presence was a major reason the Jets cut Danny Woodhead.

The Jets rested top two backs LaDainian Tomlinson and Shonn Greene, giving McKnight his first start. Behind some backup offensive linemen and against a first-string Bills defense that knew the Jets were going to run, McKnight had 32 carries for 158 yards.

For the record, here's your complete set of AFC East High Energy performers. If you see a name that looks peculiar, click on the week to read the story about why he was selected. Readers began making the selections in Week 11.

Week 1: Pat Chung, Patriots safety

Week 2: Jason Allen, Dolphins cornerback

Week 3: BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Patriots running back

Week 4: Rob Ninkovich, Patriots linebacker

Week 5: Nick Folk, Jets kicker

Week 6: Deion Branch, Patriots receiver

Week 7: Steve Johnson, Bills receiver

Week 8: BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Patriots running back

Week 9: Santonio Holmes, Jets receiver

Week 10: Fred Jackson, Bills running back

Week 11: Steve Johnson, Bills receiver

Week 12: Brad Smith, Jets receiver and kick returner

Week 13: Danny Woodhead, Patriots running back

Week 14: Brandon Fields, Dolphins punter

Week 15: Dan Connolly, Patriots guard

Week 16: Rob Gronkowski, Patriots tight end

Week 17: Joe McKnight, Jets running back

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