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Jets' McKnight dealing with 'rough' summer

Tuesday - 8/20/2013, 8:51pm  ET

DENNIS WASZAK Jr.
AP Sports Writer

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (AP) -- Joe McKnight has been downright angry at times this summer.

Frustrated, too. And, embarrassed. Scared, also.

It has been a tumultuous few weeks for the New York Jets running back who has often been the subject of controversy during training camp -- some of it brought on by himself, which he readily acknowledges.

"How am I dealing with all of this? It's been rough," he told The Associated Press after practice Tuesday. "I've just got to deal with it. Some people might not like how I deal with it, but I'm going to deal with it the way I want to deal with it. There's nobody else dealing with it.

"It's just me."

There have been questions about McKnight's health, an arrest for unpaid traffic warrants, a concussion, migraine headaches, a few questionable posts on Twitter and some tension with the media. And that's all just in the past few weeks.

"Yeah, I'm all right now," McKnight said. "I'm over it all, but for what's going on, I know who my enemies are and who's with me. I've just got to address those people accordingly."

And, "those people" are mostly critical fans and members of the media who judge him based on what they've read on Twitter or heard through speculation. McKnight isn't looking for any sympathy and realizes there has been plenty for people to talk about.

He didn't pass his conditioning test the day before the team reported to SUNY Cortland, but did so the next day. He blamed it on dehydration and his low percentage of body fat (3.3 percent).

The 25-year-old McKnight was arrested three weeks ago in New Jersey -- on a day off from camp -- for outstanding traffic warrants, and later released on $320 bail, the amount of the tickets. He declined to comment on that incident.

He then injured his head during practice -- something the Jets never officially called a concussion -- and was cleared to return a few days later, wearing a red no-contact jersey. After practice that day, McKnight spoke to reporters for three minutes, but refused to answer any questions about his concussion or the arrest, repeatedly saying, "I'm not getting into that right now."

Last Monday, McKnight was carted to the locker room, wearing an oxygen mask, after dropping to the field during a drill. He had taken a knee three times on his way to the field earlier that day.

"I had a migraine all that morning," he said. "People don't know that I deal with migraines. So, I was dealing with that and then I hit my head on the ground on that play and it made the migraine even worse, plus I was just coming back from a concussion.

"That was scary for me. But I had to do what the doctors told me."

Later that morning, though, while recovering, McKnight angrily responded on Twitter to someone he thought was a reporter who wrote, "about time you get released. Good luck. And stay healthy."

McKnight tweeted about trying to keep his cool before adding "now it has gone too far with these reporters." He then asked, "Are you outside?," but a Jets public relations staff member assured McKnight the critical tweet had not come from a reporter but a fan.

"There's nobody else being talked about on Twitter but me, so I've got to deal with it," McKnight said. "And, I've got to deal with it the best way possible."

That has been the toughest part for McKnight, who has leaned on training camp roommate Kellen Winslow Jr. to try to get through it all.

"I just look at Joe and I just feel what he's going through," Winslow said. "I think he might be misunderstood. I see his heart, you know? Good dude, man. There's nothing you can really do except continue day to day and improve, and I guess try to prove people wrong."

Winslow, who signed with the Jets in June, dealt with plenty of controversy himself as a young player in the NFL in Cleveland and even during his college career at the University of Miami.

"We've got kind of like the same personalities and everything," McKnight said. "We're very outspoken and those types of things. He's just been trying to tell me, 'You should never let yourself show anybody that you're frustrated or anything like that.' I try not to, but sometimes it gets the best of me."

Ignoring critics has been the toughest thing for McKnight, even back to his days at Southern California when he was being compared to Reggie Bush. In the pros, he has been labeled by some as a dynamic player who is banged up too often and inconsistent.

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