By Matt O’Leary | @MattOLearyNY
Every child who grew up a football fan dreamed of catching passes in the NFL for their favorite football team. It’s a common dream, but it’s not so common for that dream to come to fruition. Long Island’s own Jeremy Ruckert gets to live out that dream every week.
Growing up on the island, Ruckert was an avid New York Jets fan and star football player at Lindenhurst High School. Ruckert was a third-round draft pick in the 2022 NFL Draft and now plays for his childhood team.
This past week, when the Kansas City Chiefs came to town to take on the Jets on Sunday Night Football, Ruckert had the best game of his young career.
Ruckert Shines in Primtime
After playing just five snaps against the Dallas Cowboys in Week 2, Ruckert was mentioned by name by Head Coach Robert Saleh as a player who needed to see the field more going forward.
Despite the plea from the head coach, Ruckert only played one snap the following week. It was certainly a surprise after the comments from the coaching staff, but his lack of snaps finally changed in Week 4.
Against the Kansas City Chiefs, Ruckert saw his snap count go up to a career-high of 25. He had two catches for 26 yards, including this beautiful back-shoulder pitch and catch that set up a touchdown.
Climbing the Depth Chart
His performance against the Chiefs must’ve stood out to the coaches because it appears he’s climbing the depth chart. With 25 snaps, he outpaced C.J. Uzomah, who is usually the New York Jets’ second tight end.
His ability in the receiving game isn’t the only thing that gets Ruckert on the field. He is thought of as one of the best blocking tight ends in the league. According to Pro Football Focus, Ruckert is ranked as the fifth-best run-blocking tight end in the NFL.
In the Jets Week 1 win over the Buffalo Bills, Ruckert was seen leading the way for Breece Hall on his 83-yard run.
The climb up the depth chart shouldn’t stop at just surpassing C.J. Uzomah. By season’s end, he may also push Tyler Conklin for starter reps. While Conklin finished on Sunday with 58 receiving yards on four catches, he had a drop in the endzone that could’ve changed the game.
Unfortunately, drops and contested catches have been a problem for Conklin through two seasons with the Jets. If that doesn’t improve soon, the New York Jets coaching staff might not have a choice but to turn to their 2022 third-round selection, who made plenty of sweet catches in college at Ohio State, like this one:
The New York Jets travel to Denver to take on the Denver Broncos in Week 5 of the NFL season. Currently sporting a 1-3 record, the New York Jets are looking to get back in the win column after dropping three straight games.
The Broncos have struggled out of the gate, especially on the defensive side of the ball, allowing a whopping 70 points to the Miami Dolphins two weeks ago. The team has been one of the worst in defending the tight end position, allowing 235 yards and three touchdowns, which is among the worst in the NFL.
Perhaps another strong game for the Jets passing attack is in order on Sunday, and if that’s the case, expect to see Lindenhurst’s Ruckert involved in the action once again.
Top: New York Jets tight end Jeremy Ruckert (89) reacts during the fourth quarter of an NFL football game against the Kansas City Chiefs, Sunday, Oct. 1, 2023, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)