Zach Sudfeld gripped the football in both hands, looked between his legs, looked up, and launched the ball backward toward his "punter." Actually he launched it over the punter's upstretched arms, but not to worry. This is a work in progress.
"Emergency long-snapper. I've been working on it. You wouldn't know by a few of those," Sudfeld told me with a laugh after his post-practice session. "I'm a utility man. I'm just trying to be available for whatever the team needs."
He said he could even be a last-resorts punt returner if special teams coordinator Brant Boyer needed him. "I'll go out there and fair-catch it with the best of them," he said, "but I don't know if they want me with my lanky body returning any kicks."
Sudfeld has returned to availability at tight end, against Jacksonville getting his first game reps and making his first game catch, a 3-yarder, since his season-ending knee injury over a year ago. And while he didn't play on special teams vs. the Jaguars, long-snapping or otherwise, he has a track record there after leading the Jets with 20 ST tackles in 2014.
"It was pretty cool just being out on the field, running out of the tunnel, getting my first couple of plays," he said. "It's been a long recovery process. The first couple of plays and everything, it's great to be back out there, and hopefully I can just build on it every week."
And this week is a big one, not just on Zach's road back but on the Sudfeld family calendar. When the Jets take the field against Washington at FedEx Field on Friday night, it will be Zach's team going up against the new team of "little brother" Nate. The former Indiana quarterback was the Redskins' sixth-round pick and made a nifty pro debut at Atlanta last Thursday with 10-for-15 passing for 89 yards and a touchdown.
"He had a great game and he's having a great camp, from what I hear," Zach said. "It'll be a special moment for our family to have us playing each other. My twin brother, Matt, who played at Brown University, will be there, our parents will be there, and we'll have grandparents and family there, too."
And the Sudfeld family's attention will surely be divided in the second half Friday, watching Nate add some more pro polish while also keep tabs on Zach, who'll continue to shake off the rust and move forward with his building plan.