Try as it did, rain and lightning could keep the Green & White off the practice field for only so long. The Jets were noticeably excited for their first day of practice in full pads and after several hours of delay the team shifted to the turf practice field in Cortland Stadium in an abbreviated afternoon practice.
Fourth-year TE Jeff Cumberland took the majority of first-team snaps at his position, with veteran Kellen Winslow sidelined with a minor leg injury. Cumberland was targeted several times by both Mark Sanchez and Geno Smith. Early in team drills, he stretched all of his 6'4" frame to make an impressive catch of a Smith pass over the middle of the field.
Cumberland, who last season had career highs with 32 receptions for 397 yards and three touchdowns, has had to adjust to this summer's rotating signalcallers and build a connection with both quarterbacks.
"I've been here with Mark for a while," he said. "Geno is just now starting to get into it. I don't know who is going to be the QB. I just know I'm here to play. I know whoever is throwing the ball, plays need to be made and I'm here to do that."
Cumberland has also had to adjust to the West Coast offense instituted by new coordinator Marty Mornhinweg, the Jets' third OC in as many seasons. The departure of TE Dustin Keller to Miami this offseason has opened the door for Cumberland and the aforementioned Winslow to take on a larger role in an offense that promises to utilize their position more in the passing game.
"Coach brought in the West Coast offense and that's very tight-end-oriented," he said. "Tight ends are used a lot both for blocking and in the passing game, so with my ability and my skillset, I feel pretty comfortable in it."
Despite today's schedule adjustment, Cumberland was excited about how his team looked in its first practice with full pads. He was asked how he felt after leaving the practice field late this afternoon.
"The first day felt really good. I feel like I came into camp in good shape," he said, adding, "With the rain that we had this morning and then coming back out, I feel like we did pretty well."