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Veteran TE Jeff Cumberland Looks to Change His Game

Jeff Cumberland's first season in San Diego marks his seventh in the NFL.

His goal is to revert back to his rookie ways.

The newest Bolt was regarded one of the top receiving tight ends coming out of college, but along the way morphed into more of a blocking role on a New York Jets team that emphasized pounding the rock.   While it made Cumberland more well-rounded, he's eager to showcase his promise and prowess as a pass catcher.

"This is a great opportunity for me to come in to a West Coast offense with a good passing (attack)," he said.  "This is a chance for me to show more of myself in the passing game than I have been able to show in the past. I came out known as a receiving tight end, but I've developed myself into a full, overall tight end.  I still have that receiving tight end in me, and I feel this is the perfect opportunity to show that. "

It goes without saying having number 17 under center is a welcomed sight as well.

"You can't ask for anything better than having Philip Rivers.  People look at me and probably say I'm a blocking tight end, but that's the role they gave me with the Jets.  We were probably 70% run and 30% pass, so you have no choice but to block more.  I'm coming to a team who loves to throw it and have had a quarterback who has been doing it for a while.  At New York, I had Mark Sanchez and then Geno Smith and Mike Vick and then Ryan Fitzpatrick. It hasn't been quite what I wanted having to adjust to a new QB (so often), so I'm happy to come here with (Rivers) as well."

The 6-4, 260-pound tight end entered the NFL as an undrafted free agent out of Illinois, and caught 86 passes for 1,119 yards and 10 touchdowns in 65 career games over six seasons with the Jets. After battling injuries his first couple seasons, he had a breakout campaign in 2012 with 29 receptions  for 359 yards and three touchdowns to earn the team's Ed Block Courage Award winner.  He caught at least 20 passes in three straight seasons from 2012-14, and is eager to be a vital cog in the Bolts' aerial attack.

That being said, Cumberland knows where he stands in the pecking order. He just has to use it to his advantage. With defenses focusing on Keenan Allen, Antonio Gates, Stevie Johnson, Travis Benjamin and Danny Woodhead, the tight end believes he'll be put in positions to capitalize.

"Those players will definitely open things up for me.  There may be a few people who know who I am, but overall my name isn't super big like all those guys.  When you have guys like that, the defense is focused on them.  They are thinking about guys like Gates and Keenan.  If they don't try to double them, they will at least try to roll their coverage their way.  If they want to give me the one-on-one matchups with a linebacker or safety, whatever the case may be, it's a mismatch (in my favor)."

Every player goes through a unique transition when going to a new team. Luckily for Cumberland, he has some familiar faces in the locker room to help acclimate to the Golden State from the Garden State in former Jets teammates Danny Woodhead, Dwight Lowery and Kellen Clemens.

"Those are three guys who help make it easier," he said.  "This is the second week of offseason workouts, so I'm starting to see more how things work out here. It's good to have those familiar faces around."

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