When the Jets signed Australian rugby player Hayden Smith six months ago, he looked like he had the raw athletic talent to play in the NFL, but still had a lot of work to do before he’d be ready to play in an NFL game. Apparently through six months of minicamps, training camp and time on the practice squad, Smith has done that work.
The Jets announced today that they’ve brought Smith up from their practice squad to the 53-man roster.
In addition to playing professional rugby, the 6-foot-6, 265-pound Smith is a former basketball player. As a football player, he has said he models himself after Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski.
“To play in the NFL would undoubtedly be the pinnacle of my career,” Smith said early this year, when he was first exploring the possibility of playing American football. “I will do whatever it takes to make my dream a reality.”
Now it is a reality: He’s an NFL player. The fact that the Jets made the move today strongly suggests that tight end Jeff Cumberland, who is listed as questionable on this week’s injury report, will not be able to play, and Smith is likely to be active for Sunday’s game against the Dolphins.
To make room on the 53-man roster for Smith, the Jets released receiver Jason Hill.