Jets, TE Chris Herndon feeling 'a different energy'

  • By Grant Gordon
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As trying as the 2018 campaign was for the Jets with a 4-12 showing, rookie tight end Chris Herndon left a promising note for the Gang Green faithful.

The only Jets freshman to find his way onto the 2018 NFL All-Rookie Team, Herndon's 39 catches were tops among first-year tight ends, his 502 yards receiving were second and his four touchdown grabs were second on the team.

Now playing for a different coaching regime, Herndon is gladly soaking up a fresh scheme, gaining confidence and feeling a new energy under the Adam Gase coaching umbrella.

"Just from the jump, we're taking shots down the field, using everybody and everybody is getting a chance to touch the ball," Herndon said via the team website's Ethan Greenberg. "You feel a different energy out there and we're just trying to keep this momentum that we have right now and let that carry into the next day, next camp and going into the season."

It took a while for Herndon to catch on with the Jets and fellow rookie Sam Darnold as the tight end tallied just five catches for 47 yards on seven targets across the initial five weeks of the season.

Over the final 11 weeks of the season, Herndon emerged as one of Darnold's most reliable targets, hauling in 34 receptions for 455 yards and all four of his scores on 49 targets. In addition to opening up the passing game, Herndon proved to be a reliable blocker.

Refusing to rest upon a promising first year, Herndon is putting in the work where and when he can in the offseason.

"I feel like it's very important [to study film]," Herndon said. "You could have all the skill in the world, but if you don't know what to do, you're really not going to get much playing time. Period. Before you can get out there and make plays, you have to know where to be and that's probably the most important part. The athleticism and running comes easy."

With all the studying comes comfort in the new offense, which has translated into confidence.

As training camp looms on the horizon, Herndon's already shown strides of improvement in all facets.

"I think he's a more confident player," tight ends coach John Dunn said. "Even from getting here, before practicing and speaking with him and talking with him, just his confidence [is different]. He had a good year last year. And I think for him, the more he can understand defenses and not only what we're doing, but what the opposing team is doing, now he can maximize his skillset. So that's where I think he's taken his biggest leap."