At a time in training camp when teams see whole positions decimated by injuries large and small, the Jets' tight ends room this week grew by about 100 percent. Returning to practice were Ryan Griffin off of active/PUP and Dan Brown from active/NFI, plus DL Bronson Kaufusi from seven missed camp practices to line up at his new position.
Add them to third-year man Chris Herndon, second-year pro Trevon Wesco and Ross Travis, acquired off of waivers late last season, and as head coach Adam Gase said this week, "I mean, that's a deep group," while Griffin, the senior-most member of the unit, said, "I think we have a lot of talent in the room."
Here's how that room, populated by players beginning anywhere from their second to their eighth NFL seasons, breaks down:
Herndon: We've been hearing about his return for a while — last year, when a suspension and two injuries limited him to one game, one catch, and 18 offensive snaps, and now this summer.
"I just want to get back out there, get back to having fun, being that reliable teammate, reliable resource on the field for the team," Herndon said Monday. "And I want to show I can be consistent with that, just continue to do what I do, and most importantly, don't take any steps back."
TEs coach John Dunn wasn't predicting greatness but he was optimistic Herndon can regain the form of his rookie season, when he had 39 catches for 502 yards and four touchdowns.
"Chris is a very skilled player. He works his tail off. There's a lot in his body that we can get out. So for him it's a matter of just going to work every day," Dunn said. "Right now he's just getting better one practice at a time."
Griffin: He was enjoying a possible career year in 2019 with 34 catches for 320 yards and especially his five TD grabs, before missing the final three games with an ankle injury that required surgery and rehab up until this week.
Before the injury, Gase said, "He was playing at an extremely high level, and he was doing a lot of things that I didn't even know he was able to do. ... He's as tough as they come, he's reliable in the passing game, he finds a way to get open, he's an extreme competitor."
Brown: His playing time went up over the last quarter of the season after Herndon and Griffin went on IR, and while his offensive numbers wouldn't wow anybody, his special teams contribution was greatly appreciated. Gase called him "if not the best special teams player we have, one of the top two."
Wesco: His progress from year one to year two was featured in a Sunday story on newyorkjets.com. Dunn said what Wesco has done well this summer is "a really good job of conceptualizing the offense, being able to line up in different spots and really be a multiple player for us. So his mental side is night and day and then physically he continues to get better because obviously now he's playing with confidence."
Kaufusi: Dunn said the Jets noticed the D-lineman's offensive possibilities last season when he played TE for the scout team. "He's a great person, he has a lot of energy, he never gets tired. He's a big, physically strong player, and he did a great job, really, without the techniques. ... His skillset is something we can work with at the position."
Ross Travis: When TE grew dangerously thin before the season finale at Buffalo, the Jets picked up Travis on waivers from the Colts. He had eight catches in 17 games for Kansas City in 2016-17 and six receptions in seven games from 2017-19 with Indy (spending '18 on IR).
It does have the making of a very strong TE room, one that can expertly supply receiving, run-blocking and pass protection as needed against a given opponent. But Griffin, after praising the talent at the position, detailed its next challenge.
"We need to probably realize the talent that we have," he said. "I think Coach Dunn has been doing a great job getting us prepared for Buffalo [on opening day]. We've got to stop relying on potential and go out there and get it done as a group. So I'm really looking forward to having Chris out there with me and Trey busting some heads as well. It's going to be exciting in the tight ends room."