Despite seeing a smattering of action in the first three preseason games, Jets tight end Hayden Smith isn’t overly excited at the prospect of extended playing time tonight.
He just views it as the next step in his progression toward becoming a football player.
The Australian-born Smith is a former rugby star trying to transition to the NFL and is making up for his lack of football acumen with outstanding athletic ability. Having never played a snap of competitive football, Smith has had a severe learning curve since rookie camp in May. But three weeks ago during his competitive football debut, he said it finally dawned on him that he was turning into an NFL player.
“I need to get better with technique and things. But overall, the game is slowing down and technique — it’s getting better,” Smith told Metro. “But it is getting easier and better each day and each game.”
As the transition continues, Smith hopes to work his way into the conversation at tight end this year and his team might need him in a hurry. In the last preseason game, tight ends Dustin Keller and Dedrick Epps both limped off the field with injuries and Josh Baker suffered a serious knee injury. And that does not include Jeff Cumberland, who missed the game due to a concussion.
“The coaches have been amazing, they’ve been very positive and amazing and understanding about my development. They’ve pushed me hard and coaching me the right way,” Smith said. “I feel good about my development and the way they’re bringing me along. I’m excited to see where it goes from here.”
Follow Jets beat writer Kristian Dyer on Twitter @KristianRDyer.