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Joe McKnight, who once thought his career was over, hopes to make KC Chiefs roster

The Chiefs signed McKnight this offseason to compete at returner among other things, yet the veteran faces an uphill climb after missing last season due to injury. We recently sat down to ask him about the level of competition and how Rex Ryan believes he could actually play cornerback in the NFL.

Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

Editor's note: Andy Reid said on Sunday that Joe McKnight had his knee scoped this offseason. The Chiefs placed him on the PUP list. "He's made great progress and wants to be out there and he's pretty close," Reid said.

In the offseason, how much are you staying in a routine of working out and studying and how much is vacation?

McKnight: Well, I had a whole year off to vacate, so now it's just an every day grind for me.

When you get signed by the Chiefs, does their staff change your rehab routine at all?

McKnight: No, not really. There's three strength coaches with the Chiefs, and I just kept working out like I already was. If anything, they just rang it up and kept the intensity.

Obviously you're with a new team and coming back from the injury, so this has to feel like a different offseason. Heading into training camp, how are you feeling this offseason compared to others? Is there a big difference?

McKnight: It's a lot different. The biggest difference this offseason is that I'm in the best shape I've been in in a long time. I'm with a coach that actually wants to see me succeed. I'm around players that also want to see me succeed. It's just a family atmosphere around here. I didn't really get that with the Jets.

You mentioned the physical grind, but what about emotionally. Are you in a better place these days?

McKnight: Emotionally, I'm in a better place than I was in previous years. It's really about just being focused and staying around positive people. I mean, I was in a dark place after the injury and everything. Luckily I had some very positive people around me. They got me out of it and just told me to stay with it. They believed in my abilities and everything and I just stuck with it.

'I thought my career was over after a couple weeks after the season when I was getting any calls or anything. I was actually going to start looking for a job but then I got the call from the Chiefs.' -Joe McKnight
Did you have a moment where you thought your career was over?

McKnight: Yeah, I thought my career was over after a couple weeks after the season when I was getting any calls or anything. I just figured it was over. I was actually going to start looking for a job [Laughs], but then I got the call from coach EB [Eric Bieniemy] and my agent telling me I got a workout with the Kansas City Chiefs. Then I'm back on it.

When you're in KC for that first workout, what was the first impression?

McKnight: The first person I saw when I got there was coach Eric Bieniemy. I knew him since I was in high school. He came to me and told me, "I want you to do great in this workout." I knew he wanted me here and believed in my ability, so I went out and had a great workout for him and everything. Then I signed the same day.

How much did you know about the Chiefs before you came?

McKnight: I knew quite a bit. I knew Jamaal [Charles]. I mean, they had a great season last year when I was sitting and watching them at home. I knew a lot about them. I mean, when Coach Reid signed with them, he's a guy that will give second chances, and he gave me my second chance.

Do you enjoy playing on special teams?

McKnight: Of course. I mean that's the only way I can make this team. They've got Jamaal and he's established. Knile [Davis] had a great year last year. He's coming off a great year, so I gotta find my niche on special teams right now and just work to get involved on offense.

When you look back at those years with the Jets, is there a moment or game you're most proud of? I have to think that the 107 yard return has to be a highlight.

McKnight: [Pause] Well I feel like I haven't reached my ceiling. But I'd say one of the games I'm proud of came against the Patriots. I had a high ankle sprain, but I came in and played. We still lost, but I fought through that. But yeah, that game again the Baltimore Ravens when I ran the kick back and even played some defense.

Yeah, were you surprised when you were asked to play reps at corner? I know you had that experience in your past, but when Coach Ryan asks you to play--

McKnight: Oh yeah, I was pretty surprised. But Coach Ryan always had me as the scout team cornerback, so when I showed him I could play it, he was telling me I could make the move to corner. He was the first coach in the league who told me I could do that if I wanted. But I'm already in the league as a running back. I want to establish myself here first and think about that afterward.

How does the competition feel for returner at this point?

McKnight: Oh, it's a good competition. We've got DeAnthony. Then Knile did a great job last year. I was the one who was out all last year, so I've got to start all over again and work myself back up.

For those who've yet to see you since you've been out a bit, what do you want Chiefs fans to know about you?

McKnight: They're getting an exciting player. I'm as passionate as I can be. I just want to come in and show my loyalty to Coach Reid and the fans for giving me this chance. The only thing they're going to get from me is the best. I'm here to play hard every Sunday and practice hard every day. And to make plays. That's my focus is to make plays.

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