Jets Podcast


Jeff Cumberland's Career Comes into Focus

Posted Aug 10, 2014

5th-Year Man Seeking to Become Well-Rounded Player While Leading Jets' TEs

From wide receiver at Illinois to veteran starting tight end, Jeff Cumberland’s role with the Jets has evolved over time.

Cumberland’s journey began in 2010 as an undrafted free agent — an undrafted FA auditioning for a tight end position who ran a sub 4.5 40 at the NFL Combine, that is. Whether it was his quickness, his sturdy 6’4” frame, or his ability to provide a diverse offensive threat, Cumberland landed a spot on the roster back in 2010 and has been a part of the team ever since.

Cumberland didn’t break out during his first few years with the Jets, coming to the team at a time when tight end Dustin Keller was just beginning to peak. Things didn’t get much better in 2011, when he had only two receptions before succumbing to a season-ending Achilles tear. But by 2012, his injury was completely behind him and he started 12 games. Last year he led the team with four touchdown receptions.

“Before, I was a young guy who really hadn’t played much pro ball," Cumberland said. "Now I’ve got a couple years under my belt and I’m more confident in what’s going on, what I’m doing, what the defense is doing. And I’m more confident in the offensive scheme in my second year with the same offensive coordinator [Marty Mornhinweg].”

Cumberland didn’t see much action in the preseason opener against the Indianapolis Colts on Thursday, playing in 29 plays and connecting with quarterback Geno Smith just once for an 11-yard gain on a short pass down the middle.

“I’m trying to focus on being an all-around tight end — blocking, pass blocking and receiving as well,” Cumberland said after practice at SUNY Cortland on Saturday. “I mean, when I came in I was a receiver and my size and speed were my strengths and they can still be my strengths now. I got better at my blocking, so I’m just trying to encompass all of those things to be a well-rounded tight end.”

At 27 years of age, Cumberland’s five years of experience in the league trumps that of his fellow tight ends. He has evolved not only to meet the offensive needs of the Jets but also to assume a leadership role for the young group.

“It’s going great helping those guys out, Jace [Amaro], Zach Sudfeld, [Chris] Pantale,” the veteran said. “The team has definitely gotten younger, for sure. When I got here it was a lot of guys who were here nine, 10, 11, 12 years. Now we have a lot of guys who are starters that are under their fifth year. That’s the main difference that I can see. We’ve got youth behind us.”

Cumberland wouldn’t go as far to say that the tight ends had been underutilized in years past, but he does feel like they might be able to be used more in the future.

“I feel like once everyone gets confident and gets the feel of what to expect out of the offense, what to expect out of Marty and the game flow, everything will fit in great for us," he said. "As tight ends, we can be real big in this offense as far as blocking and receiving go.”

For a man who only seems to get better as the years go by, it will be interesting to see what the future holds. But for now, Cumberland is only thinking of the task at hand.

“So we’ve got one week before we meet the Bengals. We just have to come out here and get better day by day, make corrections from the last game and just come out tomorrow and get better," he said. "And it will be the same thing with Wednesday, Thursday, Friday. We just get better and better every day.”


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