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Bilal Powell tops Joe McKnight as Jets' third-down back

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The New York Jets want to return to their punishing ground-and-pound roots of old, and running back Shonn Greene is being asked to lead the way. Greene is the bell cow in Gotham, but when he's not on the field -- and Tim Tebow isn't spinning his gold -- Bilal Powell will be called.

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Powell has bested Joe McKnight for the third-down role, Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News reported Wednesday.

Powell beat out McKnight with a productive preseason (26 carries for 92 yards), and he's seen as a better pass protector for Mark Sanchez, who was sacked 39 times last season.

This isn't the end for McKnight, who's nursing a hamstring injury. He'll still earn carries and find his way into a variety of plays, but Powell is Greene's primary backup to start the season.

Of course, the third-down back's role in New York could look different than on other teams around the league. We're still waiting to see what Tebow's magical Wildcat subpackage brings to town.

Follow Marc Sessler on Twitter @MarcSesslerNFL.

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