Rich Cimini, ESPN Staff Writer 71d

Early bird catches the passes, and this Jets tight end will get plenty

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- Austin Seferian-Jenkins walked into the New York Jets' locker room Wednesday at his usual time -- 5:45 a.m. -- and went about his routine:

Cold tub, weightlifting, change of clothes, study session and finally breakfast in the tight ends room, where he continued to read over the practice script and weekly game plan -- all this before the 8 a.m. team meeting.

Seferian-Jenkins loves getting to work early and diving into the game plan because, unlike last season, he knows he'll have a role in it. News flash: The Jets have rediscovered the tight end position under new offensive coordinator John Morton, and it bodes well for Seferian-Jenkins, whose pass-catching skill makes him an ideal fit in their West Coast system.

"I feel like I've got a say in whether we win or lose every week," he said. "It feels good. Last year, I had no say besides run blocking, which gets boring. I mean, I do it, but if that's all you're doing and you never run routes, it's like I might as well just play (freaking) tackle."

Despite missing the first two games due to a suspension, Seferian-Jenkins already has nine catches, only four shy of his 2016 total. Attention, fantasy owners: He's poised to have a huge game Sunday against the Cleveland Browns, who have surrendered a league-high 31 receptions and four touchdowns to tight ends.

Seferian-Jenkins is developing a nice rapport with quarterback Josh McCown, and he's due for a breakout game. There's every reason to believe it will happen at FirstEnergy Stadium, where the Jets (2-2) hope to add to Cleveland's winless misery.

Seferian-Jenkins made a terrific 27-yard reception last week on a deep seam, adjusting nicely to a ball that had to be thrown through a tiny window. When's the last time you saw a Jets tight end make an acrobatic catch?

"Just having him out there, a big-bodied guy going down the field, that’s a big force," Morton said. "... When you have those tight ends, you can get into different personnel groupings and try to create a mismatch, if you can, depending on what they’re playing. It’s been a great plus to have him out there, for sure."

Under Morton's predecessor, Chan Gailey, the tight ends were treated like newspapers -- they got a look every now and then, but they were out of style. In 2016, they finished with a league-low 18 receptions and no touchdowns. How ridiculous was that? The next-closest team, the Denver Broncos, had 53 catches. To say the players were frustrated would be an understatement.

This season, the Jets are on pace for 64.

"I feel like I have a chance to win every week," Seferian-Jenkins said. "That's what it feels like."

^ Back to Top ^