FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (AP) — Josh Cribbs was in the Pro Bowl in February and out of a job six months later.
A knee injury put his career in doubt as the NFL season started without him. Finally, the New York Jets called, offering Cribbs the chance he wasn't sure would ever come.
"This is like a rebirth for me," Cribbs said after his first practice Wednesday.
"It's a fresh start. As a rookie, I came in undrafted and I had to prove to everybody — everybody in the NFL and everybody on my team — that I could play on this team and do well and produce. I have to do that now again, just to show everybody, 'Dang, he's still got it.'
"And that's what I want, for people to be like, 'Oh, man, he's still here.'"
The three-time Pro Bowl wide receiver-kick returner signed Tuesday with the Jets after sitting out since being cut by Oakland in late August. He wasn't completely healed from the offseason surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his left knee.
"I took some time off to get healthy," he said. "I'm healthy now, 110 percent. Kind of 111 percent."
In eight seasons with the Cleveland Browns, Cribbs established himself as one of the league's greatest return men. He's tied with New England's Leon Washington for the most kickoff-return touchdowns in NFL history with eight, and has also returned three punts for scores.
Even with a bad knee last season, Cribbs made it to the Pro Bowl as a replacement for Baltimore's Jacoby Jones. He even caught a touchdown pass from Matt Schaub in the NFL's all-star game.
"I think with that name on the back, he stands there and you're going to be a little nervous because we've all been scorched by him in the past," Rex Ryan said. "There's a knack for hitting those returns."
If he's completely healthy, he could instantly improve a special teams unit that hasn't done much to help the offense with starting field position. And, he could be a versatile presence to help rookie quarterback Geno Smith.
But there are some who doubt Cribbs is that type of playmaker anymore.
"Hey, I'll use that, and I'm trying to hear that," he said. "I've heard a lot of good from fans, and I love that. But I want to hear the naysayers because I use that for motivation. I've been working hard, especially after my workout here. The GM said, 'Be ready. Be ready.'