Sam Darnold, Chris Herndon could be Jets dynamic duo in 2020

Tribune Content Agency

Sticky Hands might have become all the rage in 2019, but the Jets have another offensive weapon that they hope to unleash this season.

There are fair concerns about Sam Darnold’s aerial weaponry for the league’s worst-ranked offense from a year ago, but don’t discount one potential piece: Chris Herndon.

Herndon became the Invisible Man in 2019 thanks to a regrettable decision and incredibly bad luck. The talented young tight end was expected to have a breakout second season before things went sideways with a four-game league suspension and a pair of untimely injuries.

In the end, he played a grand total of 18 snaps in one game, opening the door for sure-handed veteran Ryan Griffin to become Sam Darnold’s new best friend. Herndon, who had flashes of brilliance as a rookie (39 catches for 502 yards, four TDs) quietly slipped in and out of the locker room last season.

He suffered a significant hamstring working out on his own just days before he was scheduled to come off a suspension stemming from a DUI incident. Then, he suffered a season-ending rib injury 18 snaps into his debut.

“I think everyone can agree that we were all excited to see what he could do going into last year,” head coach Adam Gase said Monday before the start of the team’s voluntary virtual offseason program. “We felt good about so many things and it just didn’t work out with the suspension and the injury. Then we finally get him on the field and he played like (18) plays. He’s a guy that we’re excited to get back and can’t really get wait to get going. And see how he’ll fit in with everything.”

The 6-4, 253-pound Herndon, who was drafted in the fourth round in 2018 by the previous regime, was building an unmistakable connection with Darnold in both their rookie campaigns. The Darnold-Herndon pairing had plenty of promise before the lost season.

“We expected him to be a big part of the offense last year,” Gase said. “And we didn’t even get that opportunity. So, I think we’re adding a guy that’s a very good player that’s finally going to get back in the mix in this thing.”

He could be precisely what Gase and Darnold need.


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