To add injury to insult in the wake of the New York Jets’ loss to the Oakland Raiders on Sunday, the Jets have lost emerging tight end Jeff Cumberland for the season.
The 24-year-old Cumberland suffered a torn Achilles in his right leg and will miss the rest of the 2011 season due to the extensive recovery required.
In the second quarter of Sunday’s game in Oakland, Cumberland pulled up lame after an incomplete pass thrown his way in the end zone. An MRI Monday morning revealed the tear.
The big 6’4, 260 lb tight end had a terrific training camp and preseason, emerging as a viable pass-catching threat in multiple tight end sets alongside starting tight end Dustin Keller.
A great receiving threat but not a very good blocker, Cumberland looked like he was poised to be a big part of the offense this year after spending nearly all of his rookie season on the 53-man roster, but mostly inactive on gameday.
The Jets obviously liked him if they were willing to keep him on the roster all season, and he was beginning to show a lot of promise early on this year before he suffered the unfortunate injury on Sunday.
Cumberland will go on injured reserve and the Jets will reportedly call up rookie tight end Josh Baker from the practice squad. Baker was an undrafted free agent who spent training camp with the team.
The impact on the Jets offense will be interesting. The Jets have had some success with their multiple tight end sets, with Keller, Cumberland and Matt Mulligan. But Mulligan is more of a blocking tight end who doesn’t run routes very well.
It’ll likely come down to how fast Baker can pick up the offense, and how well he does in practice. But in the short-term it probably means the three-tight end formation will be placed on the backburner. You simply can’t run the same type of plays without Cumberland.
The Jets will have to find a way to adjust, but after Sunday’s loss, that may be the least of their problems as they get ready to face the Baltimore Ravens on the road next week.
This is the type of adversity that tells you a lot about your football team. The Jets will have to make a statement one way or another.