Jets remember deceased coach: ‘Absolute tragedy’

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The Jets opened training camp on Tuesday with the memory of their former assistant Greg Knapp on their minds.

Knapp died last Thursday at the age of 58 after being struck by a car while riding his bike near his home in California. Knapp had joined the Jets in January as the passing game coordinator under new coach Robert Saleh. Now, the team must move on without him.

“It is an absolute tragedy,” Saleh said Tuesday. “Knowing Knapper, he’d be really upset if we didn’t move on with a positive attitude. He was a tremendous man, he was a tremendous leader, tremendous father and tremendous husband. He’s going to be sorely missed. As far as the group, and this team, there’s been a lot of tremendous support from not only in the organization but outside the organization, and I know that he’ll be with us throughout this entire season.”

Jets players said Knapp’s presence was easy to feel.

Greg KnappGreg KnappAP

“He meant a lot to us. It hurt us pretty well,” tackle Mekhi Becton said. “He meant a whole lot. Me and [Quinnen Williams] would be in the weight room, and every day he’d come in and tell us goals to do and what we needed to do for the season. I feel like me and Q are going to fulfill those goals, do our best to fulfill those goals and we’re going to do it for him, for sure.”

The news came as a shock to the players when they found out that he had been hit on July 17.

“Initially when it happened, I heard there was an accident. You hope for the best,” guard Greg Van Roten said. “It was very vague details about what had happened. Then I talked to coach [Mike] LaFleur and he let me know, ‘He’s not going to make it.’ He said that and I was so like shocked and numb because Greg was a guy that you didn’t have to be around him long to know he was a special person, and he did have this light that he let shine that just attracted people to him.

“He was someone that you could tell, just in the short time we were together in OTAs, that he never had a bad day. He wasn’t someone that let circumstances dictate his attitude. I wish I had more time with him. I’m sure everybody does. It was a tragedy. I feel terrible for his family and all his friends and loved ones.”