It seems inappropriate to dive right here into how tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins' return following his two-game NFL suspension will help the Jets' offense possibly as soon as Sunday in their home opener against Miami. Not after his heartfelt message that he's happy to be back in anyone's uniform considering his almost year-long climb back from a battle with substance abuse that landed him on suspension in the first place.
So we'll delay the on-field chatter for a few paragraphs to let ASJ talk about life.
"I say fortunate a lot, but I'm really, actually, legit, fortunate that I'm here standing with y'all," Seferian-Jenkins told a group of reporters after today's practice at the Atlantic Health Training Center, "being able to play football with a clear head, a clear mind, a good perspective, healthy, clean, and dedicated to myself, my teammates, my coaches, the city and the Jets organization.
"I really appreciate the opportunity to be here because I know how easy it can be taken away from you. I know how fragile life is. ... Anything can change in a split-second. But right now I'm here working hard and it's really a blessing just to be standing here, have the relationships that I do with my family, my teammates, my coaches, and just to be able to talk to you guys."
And it should be great for Jets Nation to welcome back a young man who beat back demons, got himself into the best shape of his pro career, and is poised to finally contribute to the new foundation the Jets are laying.
As for how much of a contribution we can expect against the Dolphins, Seferian-Jenkins can't hurt the offense and possibly can help big-time.
"Austin looked great," QB Josh McCown said. "We're fired up to have him back, his size and speed and catch radius, what he brings to the table in the passing game will be helpful, but also in the run game. And more than anything, as we get healthier at tight end, just the fact that we're getting a guy back."
That last part can't be overemphasized. Just when TE was set to reemerge for the Jets in OC John Morton's West Coast approach, the injury bug bit. Rookie Jordan Leggett (knee) has missed both games, Eric Tomlinson (concussion/elbow) got in less than a half at Buffalo, and newly arrived Neal Sterling (ankle) didn't practice today.
But as McCown said, it's about more than just the addition of a 6'5", 262-pound body. In the preseason games, ASJ gave a hint of his new game with four receptions for 55 yards and an outstanding 12-yard back-of-the-end-zone catch from Christian Hackenberg vs. the Eagles.
After that game, Seferian-Jenkins, knowing his suspension was about to start, said, not boastfully but earnestly, "I love the red zone and I want the ball in the red zone."
Now he may get that chance, and the chance to move the ball inside the opponents' 20 with some midfield grabs. But we shouldn't expect too much too soon. As head coach Todd Bowles said, "He has to get in a little better shape. That's to be expected after two weeks off. But he'll get going."
Meanwhile, Seferian-Jenkins said when asked about his impact on the offense:
"I'm just fortunate to be here. ... Whatever I can do to help the team, whether it be blocking or pass catching, I'm looking forward to it."