Linebacker Kenwin Cummings spent 1½ seasons on the Jets' practice squad before being signed to their active roster Monday.
"I'm glad that they pulled me up," the 6'3", 250-pounder told newyorkjets.comthis week. "I'm looking forward to helping the team in any way they can use me. I'll be glad to step in and fill that spot."
Whatever spot that is right now is uncertain, but Cummings didn't spend any extra time pondering. Instead he put in extra work the first two practices this week before the pivotal game against the Patriots on Sunday. With the Green & White's margin for error shrinking each week, their attention every day must be spent on outworking their opponent.
"That's how our focus has to be from here on out," he said. "We're pushing it. We don't have time to step back and relax. We have to stay focused and just push forward every day from here on out."
That's nothing new to the Pembroke, N.C., native, who's been "a real physical presence" as a member of the scout team, according to head coach Rex Ryan.
"The real good thing about being on the practice squad," Cummings said, "is you're going against our No. 1 offense. You're going against the best. You're getting the best practice you can get, you're getting the best look you can get. That helps so when you do get pulled up, you've been doing it every day, going against the No. 1 offense every day. It's not going to be that big of a deal."
Cummings' last game action was in the final preseason game against the Eagles when he grabbed seven tackles and a sack of speedy quarterback Michael Vick. A workhorse since training camp, No. 54 feels he's continued to improve on several areas of his game.
"I feel like overall I've gotten better, better on my feet. I'm able to move and cover guys better," he said. "I feel a lot lighter on my feet. I like to bring it, so that helps some, too."
With all four starting linebackers on the squad quality players — Bart Scott, David Harris, Calvin Pace, and Bryan Thomas — Cummings has a great group to learn from.
"We have some really good linebackers right now," he said. "I'm trying to step in on special teams and make some plays there and go from there and see how it goes."
A young Scott excelled on special teams coming into the league with the Ravens in 2002. When it comes to teams on the Jets under coordinator Mike Westhoff, Cummings knows he has some competition in regards to playing on Sundays. Deciding who or who not to activate each Sunday is one of the most challenging tasks the coaches deal with week after week.
"Based on different teams you play, they may be a very good run team so you may need to have some bigger guys out there. That's going to change how we play on special teams," Cummings said. "Are we going to have more big guys or are we going to have more smaller guys?"
Some want to count the Jets out of the playoff race after losing five of the last six. But Cummings, who's "been in a situation like this before" as a member of a "borderline playoff team each year" while at Wingate University, knows the mindset in the Jets' locker room is what it needs to be for them to get out of their slump.
"We just have faith in each other," he said. "We all believe in each other, believe in the team."