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Cumberland's play affecting Jets' long-term plans at TE

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Posted Sept. 27, 2012 @ 2:32 p.m. ET
By Kevin Fishbain

The Jets have an interesting situation brewing at the tight end position to watch as the season goes along. Dustin Keller is in a contract year, and a hamstring injury has kept him out the past two games, opening the door for third-year TE Jeff Cumberland to emerge. The 6-4, 260-pound Cumberland has impressed coming off an Achilles injury, and we heard that New York wanted to get him more involved in the offense last season before he went down.

Through three games, Cumblerland has been targeted 15 times and has seven catches for 71 yards. His 15 targets are tied for second on the team with WR Stephen Hill. The offense, though, has struggled mightily in the two games Keller has missed, something we hear has helped his cause. Keller has always had a good rapport with Mark Sanchez and had a career-high 65 catches for 815 yards and five TDs last season.

ESPN New York reported in June that the Jets would take a wait-and-see approach with Keller’s contract. Keller’s value might increase if the offense improves when he returns to the lineup, but Cumberland has played well, and will be a lot cheaper next season than Keller, whose next deal could be affected by recent contract sgiven to TEs Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez.

We also hear that the Jets like Konrad Reuland, a first-year blocking tight end who played seven more snaps than Cumberland last week. The way that the three tight ends are used this season certainly will factor into Keller's, and Cumberland's long-term future with the Jets. 

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