New York Jets’ Hayden Smith Looks to Take Game to Next Level

By Michael Terrill
New York Jets’ Hayden Smith Looks to Take Game to Next Level
Debby Wong-USA TODAY Sports

New York Jets tight end Hayden Smith survived his nightmarish rookie campaign last season and is looking to make a name for himself in 2013. The former Australian rugby player had plenty to get used to in the NFL, but now that he has a solid grip on the ins and outs of the game, he knows it is time to take his play to the next level.

“Obviously I developed throughout the year and started to get more comfortable with just the game of football really,” Smith told “It’s really hard to appreciate just how intricate the game is especially at this level,” he said.  “But football in general is an incredibly intricate and detailed game, so that’s definitely a process you have to get used to and something that isn’t necessarily prevalent in rugby.”

Smith began his rookie season on the practice squad, but was activated to the 53-man roster and suited up for five games last year. The 28-year-old hauled in just one reception for 16 yards against the San Diego Chargers, but it was a huge step in the right direction. With tight end Dustin Keller gone after he signed a contract with the Miami Dolphins, Smith now has a legitimate opportunity to earn some valuable playing time.

“Look I think there are always opportunities to play,” Smith said, according to “You just have to put your best foot forward and make the most of those opportunities,” Smith said.  “So it’s not so much looking at the big picture and saying, ‘I can do something here.’  It’s really like I said — that same process of trying to get a little bit better every day, not get too far ahead of yourself take care of what you’re doing and then the end result should take care of itself.”

Obviously, Smith still has plenty to learn, especially since the Jets will be inserting an entirely new offensive scheme for the upcoming season. However, now that he has the basics down he should be able to have plenty of more success with the West Coast offense.

The good news is he will be given every chance to succeed with New York in 2013, especially if quarterback Geno Smith gets the start ahead of Mark Sanchez. Smith does not know any of the receivers, which means he will be looking at the first player to emerge themselves to be his go-to guy.

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