The Jets are dealing with injuries on the outside at wide receiver with Denzel Mims (hamstring) and Vyncint Smith (core), but slot WR Jamison Crowder sees a potential gamechanger on the inside.
"I think the major X-factor is having Chris Herndon back at tight end," said Crowder, who added, "I think he'll have a huge impact. When I was in Washington, we had a really good tight end in Jordan Reed. I've seen some of those similar traits in Chris Herndon. He's a bigger guy who can move like a smaller guy. He has really good hands, he's good after the catch and he's somebody who safeties have to try and cover and have to account for. He helps open up the middle of the field for guys like myself and running routes that come across the middle. Him being out there and being the guy that he is, he'll open it up for everybody else."
Crowder played with Reed from 2015-18 as Reed was regarded as one of the best receiving tight ends in football with 2,407 yards and 21 TDs in that span. Herndon, who finished second on the Jets with 39 receptions, 502 yards and four TDs as a rookie in 2018, quickly developed a chemistry with then-rookie QB Sam Darnold akin to Crowder and Darnold last season. Crowder tallied 14 receptions for 99 yards in his first game in green and white as he led the team with 78 catches, 833 yards and 6 TDs last season. Now entering Year 2 in head coach Adam Gase's offense, Crowder senses a difference in himself and his signal-caller.
"Definitely his confidence level, he's comfortable going into the season being in this system for Year 2," he said. "I can definitely see that and sense that as well as myself. I feel a little bit more comfortable now in the system and just trying to build upon the things we learned last year and just trying to build upon that."
The crafty sixth-year slot receiver said his goal is to be a viable option for his 23-year-old quarterback and build on his performance from last season. Darnold is trying to quickly accustom himself to his new wideouts in training camp such as Breshad Perriman and Mims. The Jets have six new receivers on the roster as the season opener is less than a month away, but Crowder isn't concerned about the time crunch.
"Guys have to get into the playbook and study as much as we can to try to translate what we learned in the virtual meetings and take it to the field," he said. "That's just being a professional, so I wouldn't say I'm concerned. That's something everybody is dealing with right now. We just have to do what we can given the circumstance and prepare as well as we can."
Jets general manager Joe Douglas emphasized adding explosive playmakers in the offseason who possess height — Perriman (6'2"), Mims (6'3"), Lawrence Cager (6'5"), George Campbell (6'4") — and speed. Crowder likes the group Douglas has assembled from top to bottom.
"I think the receiving corps has a lot of unique traits," he said. "We have size, speed, big receivers. I think it's going to be fun to go out there and compete with those guys during practice. Once we get started playing. I'm just looking forward to getting better each and every day with those guys and learning the guys, building that chemistry amongst the group."