RB Michael Carter may be only in his second year with the Jets, but he believes he assumed a leadership role from Day 1 of his rookie season.
"Truthfully, I feel like I had a leadership role last year, even when I came in," Carter said at the beginning of training camp. "I think maintaining where I'm at and focusing on myself and trying to bring others along with me is what I'm really focused on."
Carter set the expectations for his teammates by leading the team with 639 rushing yards and 4 touchdowns in 147 carries, and also had 325 yards on 36 receptions last season. This year, Carter carries that same expectation for the running back group and has already seen growth in the one month since training camp started.
"Attention to detail and finish," Carter said of the two areas in which the group has grown the most. "I feel like when the younger guys came in, they had to learn how to finish and learn how to be professionals. That means finishing all things you do. Then the veterans in the group learned how to be more consistent through and through. I think we're all coming along great, and we just have to keep improving."
See the Green & White on the field for the final time before the Jets-Giants preseason game.
One of the younger guys in the group who has shown he can finish is rookie RB Zonovan "Bam" Knight. Knight signed as an undrafted free agent in May after three years at N.C. State where he had 2,286 rushing yards and 18 rushing touchdowns. He also had 337 receiving yards and 923 kickoff return yards with three returns for touchdowns. Knight has excelled in team practices during camp and rank fourthin the NFL through two preseason games with 119 kickoff return yards. While he may be new to some, Carter already knew Knight had NFL-caliber talent.
"I played him in college two times," said Carter, who played at North Carolina. "He's always been good. I still tell him to this day I can't believe he wasn't drafted because he's better than a lot of the running backs that were. He's continuing to improve, and he's got the biggest chip on his shoulder. He loves the game and when you love the game, when you respect the game, and you put time into it, it's like a girlfriend, you get what you want out of it."
While this young running back group has made strides in training camp, the Jets have their final preseason game, against the Giants on Sunday. HC Robert Saleh has been referring to the game as a "dress rehearsal" for the regular season and will have all starters play at least a quarter. Even though it's a preseason game, Carter has high expectations for himself and his teammates.
"I want to go out there and put something great on film," he said. "I want to put something together with my teammates. Hopefully, we look really good because we've been looking good in practice and now it's a matter of translating it to the game."