Tuesday, July 15, 2014
Training camp preview: Tight end
By Rich Cimini
Breaking down the New York Jets' roster, unit by unit, in preparation for training camp, July 23:
Position: Tight end
Projected starter: Jeff Cumberland.
Projected backups: Jace Amaro, Zach Sudfeld.
Player to watch: Amaro. At 6-foot-5, 265 pounds, the Jets' second-round pick has the measurements of a sturdy, in-line blocker, but that's not his game. He's at his best when he's detached from the line, either flexed or in the slot or split wide. He'll bring a different dimension to the offense, creating potential mismatches with his size. The big question is the learning curve. Amaro came from a no-huddle, spread offense at Texas Tech, so the transition may take a while. He looked lost at minicamp, so don't expect him to be an overnight sensation. Coordinator Marty Mornhinweg will feed him the playbook at a gradual rate, trying not to overwhelm him.
Top storyline: The Jets retained Cumberland with a three-year, $5.7 million contract, in part, because they feel he has untapped potential as a receiver. They went out and drafted Amaro, so it'll be interesting to see how they use them. Cumberland may not get as many opportunities in the passing game as he hopes.
Training camp will be a success if ...: Mornhinweg is formulating a Week 1 game plan that includes a significant role for Amaro, who has the kind of skill set that can really help the offense. Chances are, he'll be in their "11" personnel package, used in passing situations -- one back, one tight end and three wide receivers. The question is whether he'll be ready.
Wild card: None of the tight ends are sturdy blockers, which makes you wonder if they will address the need at some point during training camp. Ben Hartsock, who played with the Jets in 2009 and 2010, is a free agent. He's not a receiver by any stretch of the imagination, but he can block at the point of attack. They used lineman Vladimir Ducasse as an extra tight end last season in the "jumbo" package, but he left as a free agent. The job is open.
By the numbers: If the Jets used a lot of two-tight end packages, it will be a big change. A year ago, they attempted only 82 passes with two tight ends on the field, according to ESPN Stats & Information. Only five teams had fewer attempts. Geno Smith struggled, completing a league-low 43.9 percent -- 10 points lower than the next team.