New 21-Year-Old Star Has Emerged in Jets Offense

Zonovan Knight, Jets

Getty New York Jets running back Zonovan Knight breaking tackles during a game against the Chicago Bears.

When the New York Jets lost Breece Hall back in Week 7, their running game seemed destined to never be the same.

However, after the Week 12 matchup versus the Chicago Bears, there is newfound hope in the backfield after the emergence of a brand-new star.

Zonovan Knight Has Officially Arrived on 1 Jets Drive

On Sunday morning when the Jets announced their active/inactive list, there was a surprising name featured: running back James Robinson.

He was a healthy scratch according to the beat reporters which opened up the door for undrafted free agent Zonovan Knight to make his NFL debut.

The former NC State product had 17 touches and made the most of them versus the Bears:

  • 69 rushing yards
  • Averaged 4.9 rushing yards per attempt
  • Three receptions for 34 yards

Knight originally made the 53-man roster before getting released a week later. Ultimately he was brought back on the practice squad and was biding his time.

After Hall tore his ACL, Knight was promoted to the 53-man roster on a full-time basis. This opportunity against the Bears was his first chance at the NFL level.

Knight affectionately known by his nickname Bam had the most rushing yards by a Jets player in a debut since the legendary Matt Snell, per Dennis Waszak Jr of the Associated Press.

Beyond the Jets record books, Knight made history in the NFL this season. Bam’s 103 total yards from scrimmage made him the only rookie this season to achieve that feat in his first career game.

Jets team reporter Caroline Hendershot said he is one of only three undrafted rookies to do that since 1990.

James Robinson Won’t Be Forgotten in Jets Backfield

One of the reasons Knight was able to emerge is because Michael Carter got hurt during the Bears game.

Head coach Robert Saleh said MC1 suffered an ankle sprain and said it was of the “low” variety but wouldn’t provide much additional detail beyond that.

He will be questionable throughout this week and has an outside shot of playing on Sunday versus the Minnesota Vikings.

That means it should be full steam once again for Knight this week.

However, don’t write off Robinson yet either. While the Jets decided to make him a healthy scratch on Sunday, Saleh said he still has a role on this team moving forward.

“James’ story is not over. Obviously, I said that after the game. It’s just a matter of getting north and south. Not every run is going to be perfect or go to the house. Just stick your foot in the ground and get vertical as quickly as possible and explode through the line of scrimmage.”

It sounds like Robinson is going through some of the same issues that Hall was going through earlier in the year. He has a tendency to go east and west (aka run horizontally) instead of just planting his foot and going up the field.

The Jets traded for Robinson immediately following the Hall injury. Credit to the scouting department and the coaching staff that despite how both players were originally acquired that they’d be willing to make the change for the good of the team.

Not every coaching staff is willing to do that and it shows that the best players will get on the field.

With how Knight performed versus the Bears, it is going to be hard to get him off the field moving forward.

The future is bright with Hall returning in 2023, but for now, the Jets have a new star in the backfield to rely upon for the rest of 2022.

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