Jeff Cumberland is looking to prove those who passed on him wrong.
The undrafted rookie tight end, signed by the Jets out of Illinois in April, made two standout receptions in the morning practice of day two of Jets training camp at SUNY Cortland. Both were deep acrobatic catches of passes from quarterback Kevin O'Connell on the same 11-on-11 drive, one of them despite strong coverage by safety Emanuel Cook that wowed teammates and fans alike.
"I know what I can do, and the Jets gave me that shot to show my talents," Cumberland said. "So that's what I've been doing so far."
The 6'4", 249-pounder put together a solid college career for the Big Ten's Illini that included 59 receptions for 1,001 yards and 11 touchdowns.
However, Cumberland feels that the college switch of position from wide receiver to tight end may have hindered him and prevented him from being drafted.
"I think it was part of it. I heard different things, like I was too stiff to play receiver and not enough blocking for a tight end," he said. "Right now I'm out here and my position is tight end and I'm focusing on getting my blocking better and on catching the ball, running routes and making plays."
Cumberland exudes plenty of confidence and believes that he can do what it takes to grab a spot on the Green & White roster.
"I feel I bring aggressiveness and speed on special teams," he said. "On the receiving end, I'm going against linebackers so I feel I have big mismatches with my size, speed and catching ability."
He has been given plenty of guidance from those around him at camp, starting with his fellow tight ends.
"Dustin [Keller], Ben Hartsock and Matt Mulligan have been helping me out the whole time I've been here, from OTAs to now," he said, adding that TEs coach Mike Devlin and other coaches "tell me to stay active, stay productive and just keep working hard."
Whether Cumberland makes the roster or not in the next few weeks, he is remaining positive and feels that he is worthy of playing Jets football come the fall.
"I've got a lot to bring to the table and can make the big plays down the field," he said.