Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Jets' Cumberland settling into role as 'that veteran guy'


When tight end Jeff Cumberland joined the New York Jets as an undrafted rookie in 2010, he had then third-year pass-catcher Dustin Keller and seventh-year journeyman Ben Hartsock to lean on.

Last year, he had former Pro-Bowler Kellen Winslow at his disposal.

In 2014, Cumberland is on his own. Or, at least, he's now the one being leaned on.

“In my room, I have no choice but to be that veteran guy,” he said this week, via NewYorkJets.com, “but overall I feel like I’m a young veteran player. I’ve been around and I’ve seen it, but at the same time this is only my third year of actually being on the field and playing so I still consider myself as being a young player.

"I’m not in my prime yet.”

Cumberland has a point. He didn't make his NFL debut until the last game of his rookie season, and he was lost for the year to injury three weeks into the following season.

Since then, Cumberland has averaged over 13 yards a catch and has snagged seven touchdowns. The 6-foot-4, 260-pounder proved himself capable of carrying a decent load both in the route-running and run-blocking department, and he'll certainly be depended on this coming season to anchor the position, at least until second-rounder Jace Amaro gets acclimated to the pro game.

“As a veteran guy, he has great football smarts,” second-year tight end Zach Sudfeld said. “He’s a leader who’s great for talking through plays and everything else with. He’s very accommodating with all the younger guys and it’s a blast playing with him.”

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