Antonio Cromartie to get a chance to catch on at receiver for Jets

With the Jets' wide receivers nursing injuries, defensive back Antonio Cromartie will finally get his wish to play on both defence and offence, at least for now.

Antonio Cromartie can share a laugh now with his defensive back teammates Darrelle Revis, left, and LaRon Landry, centre, but it will be no laughing matter when he switches over to practice at wide receiver for some sets.
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Antonio Cromartie, the speedy and athletic cornerback of the New York Jets, has been lobbying Rex Ryan, his coach, to let him play at wide receiver.

He might get that opportunity.

Cromartie participated in individual drills with the receivers for the first time in practice this week, running routes and catching passes as coaches watched him.

"At this point, I'm just learning the steps and trying to learn more about the position, running routes," Cromartie said. "I felt pretty good today about catching the ball, too."

He made waves early in training camp when he said he would rank himself as the team's second-best wide receiver behind Santonio Holmes. The Jets are dealing with a number of injuries at the position, including to Holmes, so Cromartie getting time on offence and defence might not be such a long shot anymore.

"I'm looking forward to it," he said. "I've been waiting for the opportunity to try to play both ways in the NFL for a while."

Cromartie said he has been asking since his rookie year with the San Diego Chargers in 2006.

After defending NFL wide receivers for the first six seasons of his career, becoming one - at least part-time - is an intriguing idea for Cromartie.

"It's an opportunity to get the ball in your hands and another challenge," Cromartie said. "I'm looking at going out and playing receiver as a challenge for me."

His coach wonders how long that sentiment will stick.

"We'll see how excited he is when he gets smacked by a safety," Ryan said.

Cromartie played both ways in high school in Tallahassee, Florida, and was slated to play some at wide receiver during his junior year at Florida State University, but he tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee during the off-season and missed that year. Still, he was drafted in the first round by the Chargers.

Cromartie has already flashed tremendous ability on defence and as a kick returner on special teams.

And there is one major reason, in his mind, that he will get that shot this season.

"Because we got a different [offensive] coordinator," Cromartie said. "Plus, I bugged Rex every opportunity to put me on offence, so I finally get my chance."

Cromartie said he has talked to Holmes about playing wide receiver, trying to learn the nuances of the position and getting any tips he can.

"Any help I can get right now is going to be big," Cromartie said, "and I'm going to try to add it to my game."

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