There is a lot on the line for Chris Herndon this season.
After a strong rookie season in 2018, the tight end has struggled mightily, failing to meet the expectation of a breakout campaign the last two seasons. With his contract expiring after 2021, this is likely the 25-year-old’s final opportunity to prove he is a starting-caliber tight end in the NFL.
A third offensive scheme in four years does not make this process any easier.
The four-year pro isn’t making any excuses for himself, however. Herndon has chosen to see the frequent changes as a blessing.
“It’s actually helped [my growth] in a sense,” said Herndon in a press conference Monday. "Being in so many different offenses, it allows you to expand your knowledge of the game, route running, different blocking techniques. It keeps your mind running instead of getting comfortable with one [system]."
The transition to the wide zone scheme appears to be going well for the Miami product. Earlier this week in practice, Herndon impressed those in attendance with some big catches, including a touchdown reception in 7-on-7 play from Zach Wilson. He reminded reporters Monday that it is a difficult process, as one has to digest information quickly with all that must be covered during camp.
The former fourth round pick is hopeful he can reach the point where many of his assignments become second-nature.
“The more you learn the offense, the more you can go out there and instead of thinking, you’re just playing ball. You’re able to play fast and play with a clear mind,” said Herndon.
This is key for the Georgia native’s success this season, as his inability to find consistency has plagued him. Head coach Robert Saleh believes this is the first step in his young player’s development.
“I’m not going to put any expectations with regards to result. But for him, he’s had moments where he’s looked very good in his career,” said Saleh in a press conference earlier this week. "He’s had moments where he’s kind of disappeared and he’s had injuries. But at the same time, let him get into a rhythm."
Herndon is reportedly battling for the tight end job with Tyler Kroft. If he can emerge as the starter, Herndon must hope he can silence the criticism and flash his tremendous potential, in a system tailor-made for tight ends.
This is, after all, likely his last opportunity.
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