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3's not a crowd but 'ideal' for Jets running backs

Associated Press Modified: November 20, 2012 at 7:46 pm •  Published: November 20, 2012
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It has taken a while, but the Jets might be on the verge of getting back to "Ground-and-Pound" on a regular basis. They're 15th in rushing, and rising.

"It's an opportunity to keep everybody fresh," McKnight said. "When Shonn goes in, he's gets his plays and then when Bilal goes in, it's another fresh back. When Bilal comes out, I'll go in and it's another fresh back. It's all about keeping us fresh."

It's also about confusing opponents with three players with different skill sets. First, there's Greene, who is a blue-collar type of running back who leads the team with 631 yards rushing. Next is Powell, also a physical back who has some speed to bounce outside but also is an excellent pass blocker. McKnight is a speedy, shifty runner who also adds a pass-catching element in the backfield.

The Jets tried some trickiness against the Rams, switching things up at times with all three. Greene took a few outside runs, McKnight went in between the tackles a few times and Powell even stayed inside on both of his scores.

"I think we can give some defenses headaches by having all three of us in the game plan," Greene said.

Keeping Powell and McKnight healthy has been a challenge this season, though. Powell has dealt with a concussion and a separated right shoulder, while McKnight is playing while still healing from a high right ankle sprain. So, to have all three play significant snaps in a game was promising.

"It was pretty good to see everybody get out there and get going," said Powell, who has 180 yards rushing in his second season. "It was a great game plan. The offensive line did a great job of blocking, making it a lot easier on us. We really enjoyed it, but most importantly, we enjoyed the win."

In the offseason, Sparano said he could see Greene get as many as 300 carries this year as the bell cow of the Jets' running game. That's music to the ears of most running backs, with many saying the more carries in each game, the better they get at establishing a rhythm.

Greene acknowledged that he hoped that would be the case, but as the season has unfolded and he and the offensive line struggled at times, he insists he has only one goal. And it's not about getting his second straight 1,000-yard season or rushing for double-digit touchdowns.

"This is a team game and I'm more into winning games than worrying about who's getting the ball here and who's getting the ball there," Greene said. "I think it does take a different mentality, but my mentality is: Just win games — whoever can help us win games."

McKnight agrees, adding that he is used to a running back-by-committee scenario anyway, with six players getting 20 or more carries in each of his last two seasons at Southern California.

"I mean, I went to SC and we had 11 running backs," he said, laughing. "It really never fazed me about how many carries you got. When the opportunity came for you to get in the game, just make the best of it."

And that goes for him, Greene or Powell.

"As a group, whatever guy's out there, we're always cheering for each other and it's always good to get all the running backs a chance to get in and do their thing," Powell said. "The offensive line did a great job and we just want to keep that going."

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