Without two key contributors in the running game last Sunday – RB Michael Carter leaving in the third quarter and while James Robinson was inactive –, the Jets leaned on undrafted rookie Zonovan "Bam" Knight and veteran backup Ty Johnson who led the Green & White to 158 yards rushing against Chicago – their third-highest total of the season.
HC Robert Saleh said that Carter is day to day with a low ankle sprain. His status remains uncertain for Sunday against Minnesota, putting Knight and Johnson in line for increased opportunities.
"I stay locked in no matter what," Johnson said. "I think this is the first year being in the league that I'm in the same system for a consecutive year, so just being locked into the playbook and being locked in on the P's and Q's. Bam too. He did a hell of a job Sunday, too. He has been locked in all week and all season."
Against Chicago, Johnson registered a season-high 62 yards on 5 attempts, 1 reception for 16 yards and a 32-yard touchdown run to put the Jets up, 31-10.
"I knew it was wide zone and I saw Duane Brown and [Denzel] Mims coming up to get their blocks and thought this has got to go to the crib," Johnson said. "I was just letting it hang out there and just took my opportunity."
See the top photos from Wednesday's indoor practice leading up to the Vikings game.
The Jets claimed Johnson off waivers in 2020 and he has been active every game this season because of his value on special teams and on third down. But potentially without Carter on Sunday, head coach Robert Saleh was excited to see Johnson with an expanded role.
"Ty is doing a great job with special teams, he's a core guy," Saleh said. "But he's also been a big presence on third down for us. And when MC went down last week, he had an opportunity to step in and get some carries. … he is always going to be up on gameday because of his value on special teams."
Knight ran hard in his first NFL appearance, rushing for 54 of his 69 yards in the second half and adding 3 receptions for 34 yards. The N.C. State product totaled 103 yards of total offense – the most yards by a Jets rookie a debut.
"He just works," Johnson said. "He just runs hard. He's locked in. He asked questions," Johnson said. "He comes to me and MC a lot about certain things, especially this week when he knew he was getting an opportunity."
Knight made the initial 53-man roster following the final training camp cuts in August, was released on Sept. 5, signed to the practice squad on Sept. 6 and signed to the active roster on Oct. 25 after rookie RB Breece Hall sustained a torn ACL.
He said the uncertainty has readied him to step in when his number is called.
"It's been a surreal feeling," Knight said. "Just having that week on the 53-man roster and then being cut and then being signed again to the 53, it's been a long 11 weeks. And just found ways to mentally stay locked even though I knew I wasn't going to play and then now I have my opportunity. So, just seeing everything coming together and I didn't let up the whole time."
Saleh added: "I think everyone saw Bam had some fresh legs, he was juicy as a runner, He gets north and south quick, so he's a one-cut runner, which is kind of the staple of our scheme."