TE Jeff Cumberland seeing more snaps, what does it mean for Kellen Winslow?

Through four games, Kellen Winslow was the team’s top passing option at the tight end spot.  After Monday night’s emergence of Jeff Cumberland, will that change?  ESPN NY’s Matt Winklejohn reports on the shift in the Atlanta game at the tight end position and what the Jets saw to showcase Cumberland’s skillset.

“Me and Marty had a one-on-one talk last week, and he said some things he wanted to do with me and get me more involved in the offense,” Cumberland said.

[...]

“We saw through our film that some teams were able to go vertical on them, and those two plays that’s what we did.”

But according to ESPN NY, Kellen Winslow displeased with his role during the game and had some things to say about it on the sideline.

While Cumberland wasn’t surprised to have his number called, Winslow may have been irritated his wasn’t called more often.

[...]

Smith said Winslow was expressing some frustration on the sideline during the game, and when approached by reporters afterward and asked to respond, Winslow said, “I don’t think that would be a good choice.”

Winslow had been listed as questionable for the game, and only practiced once last week because of chronic knee pain.

Brian Bassett, TheJetsBlog.com

Oops.  There’s no quote from Smith, but whatever he indicated to reporters was probably a mistake.  It’s likely a lesson for the rookie quarterback on what to keep in-house and what to share with reporters.  To be fair to Winslow, it could have been that the tight end’s frustration was at his own knee and not any other player or the coaches …

When asked about this yesterday, Rex Ryan’s didn’t think Winslow was frustrated with his role.  “No, not that I know of,” Ryan told reporters on a conference call. “Obviously, guys want to get out there. They want to play. There is no question they want to play. They want to be part of it.”

There’s a reason that NFL players are at the level they are, even the practice squadders.  They want to compete, they want to be major contributors.  So as far as Winslow’s role, there’s a number of factors that played into why Cumberland got his number called more than Winslow on Monday.  Winslow was held back during the week due to his knee and it was speed that was key to Cumberland’s gaudy numbers.  So, with Winslow’s injury coupled with Atlanta’s replacement linebackers, the Jets saw an opportunity to use Cumberland’s versatility as a blocker (Jets would tip their hand less) to get favorable matchups in the passing game.

Winslow’s knee pain will have to be something he manages more than anything else and that might limit him the rest of the way this season.  The shift is worth noting, but with a week of light work, Winslow might be better equipped to play against an overall better Pittsburgh linebacking group than what we saw from the Falcons on Monday.