Do the New York Jets have yet another promising rookie running back on their hands?

new york jets, zonovan knight

Breece and now Bam at running back for the New York Jets in the same draft class. Following a plethora of injuries at the position this year, the Jets’ undrafted rookie had his first go at it in Week 12 and ran with the opportunity.

With lingering injury concerns to recently-acquired running back James Robinson, Zonovan “Bam” Knight reportedly knew earlier on in the week that, for the first time, he would have a role in the Jets offense.

When the Jets signed Knight as an undrafted free agent earlier this year in May, it was a pleasant surprise that generated excitement amongst the fan base.

Knight was a consistently productive player all three of his years in college, playing 12 games each season and running for 745, 788, and 753 yards. He totaled 18 rushing touchdowns over his college career and finished with a per-carry average of 5.5 yards. Knight was also productive as a pass-catcher over his final two seasons, posting a 20 catch for 136-yard year, followed by a 21 reception, 156-yard season in 2021.

One element of Knight’s game that also sparked buzz was his ability as a kick returner. He scored three touchdowns between 2020-21 and averaged 34.4 yards per return in 2021.

Knight joined the Jets as a young player, having just turned 21 years old. He offers some size listed, just a shade under 5-foot-11 and 209 pounds. While his 40-time of 4.58 may look average, he certainly plays faster than that, as shown on Sunday.

Bam Knight’s fast start with the New York Jets:

As noted above, the Jets have been hampered by some injuries at running back this year. Breece Hall went down for the season with a torn ACL in Week 7. That led to a move for James Robinson, who has been held back by a knee injury in his brief stint with the team. Robinson has not fully looked himself and may not be up to speed with the playbook either.

In turn, it led to Knight recently being promoted from the practice squad to the active roster. In Knight’s NFL debut, the Jets’ lead running back entering the game, Michael Carter, also happened to go down with an ankle injury. Knight and Ty Johnson were the two leading the way for the most part in Week 12.

In his first game action, Knight delivered and showed some intriguing promise. He led the Jets backfield in carries, with 14. He ran for 69 yards (4.9 a carry), with his longest run going for 19 yards. But not only that, Knight stepped up and contributed for the Jets in the passing game, too.

He caught all three of his targets and picked up 34 receiving yards. His biggest catch went for 16.

Knight concluded his first NFL game with 103 total yards from scrimmage, which happened to make some history.

Knight now holds the title for the most all-purpose yards by a player in the history of the Jets franchise in their first NFL game. He became the first rookie in 2022 to have 100-plus yards from scrimmage in his debut. Even more than that, Knight is now just one of three players to surpass 100 yards in their first game as an undrafted rookie since 1990. Quite an impressive feat for the 21-year-old.

Beyond just the production on the stat sheet, what Knight showed from a skillset point of view in Week 12 was encouraging as well. What he proved was some speed, burst operating downhill, along with one-cut ability, a pivotal trait in Mike LaFleur’s zone running scheme. That ability to cut was evident with his impressive nine forced missed tackles from the game. Lastly, Knight also displayed his hands as a pass-catcher out of the backfield.

The start for Knight could not have gone any better. He is young, explosive, talented, and an ideal fit in the Jets’ offensive scheme. To have Knight, Breece Hall, and Michael Carter now from the last two drafts alone is a very exciting thought for Jets fans. It will be fun to see Knight grow from this incredible start.

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