Friday, October 11, 2013
Jeff Cumberland has chance to step up
By Matt Ehalt
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- Before it was announced Friday that Kellen Winslow had been suspended for violating the NFL's policy on performance-enhancing substances, Rex Ryan faced a barrage of questions about the veteran.
In the middle of answering one, Ryan took a minute to issue a reminder about one of the other tight ends on the Jets' roster.
"We have to look at it this way. We have a really good tight end in Jeff Cumberland and this is a guy [who is] a young stud tight end," Ryan said. "You look at him, [he's] a big guy who can block and he does a nice job receiving. He's a good player."
With Winslow sidelined for four games, Cumberland is in line to see a rise in playing time moving forward. He's coming off his best game of the season as he caught three passes for 79 yards and a touchdown in the Jets' 30-28 win Monday over Atlanta.
"I've just been patient like I always have been," Cumberland said before Winslow's suspension was announced. "And then when it's my time, my opportunity comes, just try to take advantage of it."
Cumberland had not been contributing much on offense early on as the Jets had instead been relying on Winslow. Winslow had been receiving the majority of the snaps and had been the bigger factor in the passing game in the first four games as he hauled in 16 passes compared to Cumberland's four.
Monday against Atlanta, the roles were reversed. Cumberland played nearly twice the amount of snaps as Winslow and led the Jets' in receiving yards. His touchdown came on a 20-yard score in the second quarter. He now has seven catches for 139 yards and two touchdowns on the year.
"I'm always prepared for when my number is called," Cumberland said. "If it's 20 snaps or it's 50 snaps I'm going to be prepared."
Winslow's absence also allows the opportunity for a bigger role for recently acquired tight end Zach Sudfeld, and Konrad Reuland. The Jets claimed Sudfeld, a former Patriot, on Oct. 4, and he was inactive for Monday's game against Atlanta. He could suit up against the Steelers.
"He's going to have to if [Winslow] doesn't play," Ryan said before Winslow was suspended. "He's tall. He's [6-6] or something like that. These guys amaze me, how you can come into a brand new system, but it tells you the kind of coaches we have. Steve Hagen does a great job getting these guys up to speed. And Konrad, his role would increase."