Jets TE Chris Herndon is chomping at the bit to hit the grass after an injury-riddled sophomore season.
"It wasn't ideal how everything played out," Herndon said. "I wish it could've gone the opposite way, but for me, it was definitely a year where I was forced to sit down and really just learn. [I] use it as a learning experience — how quick one injury, one decision, how fast things can be taken from you. Also, just learn to appreciate those things because like they say, you never know how much you miss something until it's gone. It was a big learning year for me, but I'm ready."
The 2018 fourth-round pick served a four-game suspension to start the '19 season after an impressive training camp. The 6'4", 253-pounder tweaked his hamstring while training to return and missed another four games. He made his season debut in Week 10 against the Giants but cracked a rib in the first half and was placed on injured reserve. While he essentially missed the entire regular season, Herndon spent his extra time with Adam Gase's playbook.
"I'm continuing to learn it each and every day, detail each assignment, each play," he said. "I've taken a lot of mental notes as well as physical notes and studying the notes when we're done with our virtual meetings right now. I feel like I'm still coming along. You should never feel like you know everything. Continue to learn and continue to keep an open mind. That's when good things tend to happen."
Looking ahead to his third NFL season, Herndon wants to "continue to capitalize and watch myself grow. I feel like I have a lot of growth still ahead of me and I'll continue to grind, get better and expand my game."
He's been training in Georgia, his home state, at DL Steve McLendon's gym, Team MVP. Herndon said he feels "really good" but needs to be officially cleared by team doctors at the facility when he returns to Florham Park. When healthy, Herndon, who ranked second on the Jets in 2018 with 39 receptions, 502 yards and 4 TDs, hopes to re-emerge as a reliable teammate for QB Sam Darnold and the rest of the team.
"I come every day ready to work and be someone the team can count on in any given situation whether it's practice or a game. I feel like I can bring that to the offense," Herndon said. "As far as [chemistry with Sam] goes, I feel like continuing to do the things we've done since we've joined this team. That's come in every day focused, eager to learn, giving 100% effort in whatever we do and also just being a good teammate. That's a big part of it."
Gase, who one referred to Herndon as a "unicorn-type player," is excited to see what Herndon will add to the offense in his second year as head coach of the Green & White.
"I think he is a guy we are excited to get back and can't really wait to get going and see how he will fit in with everything," Gase said. "We expected him to be a big part of the offense last year and we didn't even get that opportunity. I think we are adding a guy that is a very good player that is finally going to be able to get back in the mix of this thing."