Elijah McGuire showed up at training camp expecting big things in his second season with the Jets. Those expectations did not last long.
McGuire broke a bone in his foot on the first day of training camp. He required surgery and began the year on injured reserve. He missed the first eight games, but now is back in the lineup and producing, scoring the game-winning touchdown Sunday against the Bills.
“It was tough because I planned on coming in this season, man, and not missing a game,” McGuire said. “For that to happen, it was very tough not to be on the field with my guys, my teammates. It’s something that I couldn’t control. I left it in God’s hands and now it’s working out.”
McGuire’s role figures to increase this week. Isaiah Crowell missed his second straight day of practice with a toe injury and had a walking boot on his left foot in the locker room Tuesday. With Bilal Powell already sidelined for the season by a neck injury, McGuire should be the Jets’ starting running back Saturday against the Texans.
“You can’t take it for granted,” McGuire said of this opportunity. “You’ve always got to be ready when you’re number’s called and prepare like a starter always. That’s what I’ve been doing, just watching what’s going on in the classroom and just take it onto the field.”
The Jets took McGuire in the sixth round of the 2017 draft out of Louisiana-Lafayette. He had some impressive moments as a rookie and the Jets had high hopes for him entering his second year. Running backs coach Stump Mitchell raised some eyebrows when he compared McGuire to Hall of Famer LaDainian Tomlinson in the spring.
“He’s very consistent,” offensive coordinator Jeremy Bates said. “He was really impressive last year. We were excited about getting him, he got hurt the first day. So we were excited to get him back. He’s going to get positive yards every time. He’s tough, he’s strong, he’s smart. A good all-around football player.”
When the Jets gave him the ball on fourth-and-goal from the 1 in Buffalo, McGuire showed patience in letting the play develop and then darted into the end zone to give the Jets the 27-23 win.
Having a ‘screw loose’ has served Jets returner well
You stand back there, following the flight of the football…
“You’ve just got to know the situation and pre-read the defense on how they align,” McGuire said. “If you see a side overload, you have to take a peek over there and see how the play is going to be blocked. If I had would have been too fast on that play, I wouldn’t have gotten in. I had to be patient and let my guys get on their blocks and then make something happen.”