Joe McKnight didn't have the best of times in his first minicamp with the New York Jets over the weekend. The former Trojan tailback dropped a few passes, vomited on the field and had both calves cramp up, in an NFL debut that was certainly less than memorable. Subsequently, McKnight noted that he was "not in good shape," which was certainly more than evident to onlookers at the Jets practice facility. From Jane McManus of ESPNNewYork.com:
"I'm not in good shape right now," said McKnight, who at one moment was crouched under the uprights as trainers poured water over his head. "I'm in OK shape, but not the best. I could be better."
It's clear through his remarks that McKnight obviously had a tough weekend with the Jets. But what is incredibly immature and pathetic on the part of USC skeptics is to use this as an opportunity to take a few cheap shots at Pete Carroll, suggesting that he didn't run competitive, high-intensity practices, which he was often credited with doing during his nine-year run with the Trojans (look we know how to spell and use proper English!). This situation serves as a quintessential example of why it's risky to try and read too much into a quote or a situation. For example:
There was a lot that was more intense from his days at USC. The criticism, the scrutiny -- even the way practice itself was run. This was different, McKnight said, contrary to USC's reputation for tough practices.
"That's what they say. Coach [Pete] Carroll was a pro coach before he came to college," McKnight said. "[But] practices were not like this."
Well, of course. Generally speaking, NFL practices are tougher, more strenuous than college football workouts. Because of NCAA limitations on practice hours, collegiate teams simply aren't given the opportunity to put in the same kind of effort and man hours that the professional squads do. Does that mean that Carroll-run practices were somehow a walk in the park? Absolutely not.
As someone who has been in attendance at USC football practices over the past six years, it's absolutely ridiculous to suggest that because McKnight had some difficulties in his initial workout with the Jets that 'SC practices were easy on players. That kind of talk is likely coming from someone who doesn't actually live within the Los Angeles area and actually attend the events in person. Instead, they're merely speculating, bending truth, and creating, stories to make themselves feel good. It's pretty cowardly. Try showing up to Howard Jones Field and telling a 6'4" 280 pound, 5-star defensive lineman that his practices are a cakewalk. I'm sure it won't end well.
These "easy" practices certainly didn't stop Lofa Tatupu from being elected to the Pro Bowl during his rookie season or Steve Smith from winning a Super Bowl with the New York Giants during his rookie campaign. If they were for patsies, wouldn't every Trojan be a flop in the NFL?
But in regards to McKnight, you'd be hard pressed to find anybody who doesn't find this turn of events the least bit surprising. For one, the Louisiana native has been injured since the end of last season, and during USC's Pro Day in late March, he re-aggravated a toe injury. All in all, I highly doubt he's been afforded the opportunity to get himself in the best physical shape, which in the end, probably has to more with his vomiting than Carroll's "soft" practices.