FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- Fullback John Conner, a Rex Ryan favorite who became a reality-TV sensation during the New York Jets' appearance in 2010 on HBO's "Hard Knocks," was waived Wednesday with an injury settlement.
Conner, nicknamed "The Terminator" after the character of the same name in the Terminator movies, fell quickly from his lofty perch. As a rookie, he was praised effusively by Ryan for his bone-jarring blocks. He started last season but struggled to make the team out of training camp this year and missed three games because of knee and hamstring injuries.
Conner's replacement, Lex Hilliard, who signed two weeks ago, apparently has played well enough to make Conner expendable. The Jets filled his roster spot by signing rookie linebacker Marcus Dowtin from the practice squad.
"There's a possibility (Conner) could be back with us," Ryan said. "Quite honestly, we needed to get the spot."
If Conner does return, it won't be any time soon. By rule, he can't re-sign for six weeks, plus the number of weeks they paid him for the injury settlement. In other words, it would be late in the season before they could re-sign him.
Conner wasn't expected to play Sunday against the New England Patriots. Just like that, the Jets' backfield is thin, with Bilal Powell (dislocated shoulder) and Joe McKnight (high-ankle sprain) battling injuries from Sunday's win over the Indianapolis Colts.
Ryan, suddenly secretive about injuries, declined to comment on the status of Powell and McKnight, neither of whom will practice Wednesday. Sources say Powell won't play, but the team hasn't ruled out McKnight, although it appears unlikely he'd play this week. He's also their primary kickoff returner.
The Jets' backfield will consist of Shonn Greene, Hilliard and Jonathan Grimes, an undrafted free agent whom they signed recently from the Houston Texans' practice squad. Backup quarterback Tim Tebow also is available to help with the ground game, running out of the Wildcat.
Conner, a fifth-round pick in 2010, was used primarily as a lead blocker. In two-plus seasons, he rushed only 21 times for 88 yards, adding four catches for 18 yards. He was on the roster bubble in training camp, his spot assured only after a season-ending injury to backup Josh Baker.
Ryan also confirmed that free-agent quarterback Kevin O'Connell visited the team on Tuesday, and Ryan didn't rule out the possibility of signing him soon.
"It's always a possibility," Ryan said of O'Connell, who spent time with the Jets from 2009-11. "Any way you can help your football team, you're going to explore that. Kevin is a guy we feel really good about. You have to be prepared down the road as well."
The Jets' interest in O'Connell has fueled speculation about the depth chart. Mark Sanchez's backups are Tebow and Greg McElroy. It would seem odd to carry four quarterbacks, but they've done it in the past.