FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- From Week 3 to Week 6, Austin Seferian-Jenkins caught more passes than any tight end in the NFL. He was a key part of the New York Jets' offense, and his off-the-field story -- a successful battle against booze -- added an element of inspiration to his sudden rise.
That seems like a long time ago.
Seferian-Jenkins' production has all but disappeared in recent weeks. He's disappointed because he feels he can be doing more, but he's not discouraged. He wants the ball, but he won't make a stink about his slump.
"It sucks, it really sucks because I felt like I was making really good improvements," the 25-year-old told ESPN on Thursday. "For whatever reason, it's not going my way, but the most important thing is that we try to win as a team."
Seferian-Jenkins already has a career-high 44 receptions, but he has only five catches for 35 yards in the past three games. Except for a few late catches in a Week 10 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, he really hasn't been a factor since Week 8 against the Atlanta Falcons -- the game in which an apparent touchdown was overturned by replay because he bobbled the ball.
"Sure, I'd like to help the team by getting the ball a little more, but there are other ways to help the team, whether it's pass protection or run blocking," he said. "When I get my opportunities, I'm going to cash in on them.
"I missed a block in the Denver game, but I think there's been a great maturation in my run blocking and pass protection over these last three or four weeks," he continued. "My blocking has gotten a lot better.
"I'm having a great season so far and I'm not going to let the last three weeks affect the next three weeks. If I get the ball, I get the ball. If I don't, I don't. The most important thing is to help the team win."
In Weeks 12 and 13, the offense revolved around wide receivers Robby Anderson and Jermaine Kearse, who both produced back-to-back 100-yard days. In Sunday's 23-0 loss in Denver, the Jets should've featured Seferian-Jenkins. Anderson and Kearse were neutralized by Denver's cornerbacks, Aqib Talib and Chris Harris Jr., so there should've been plenty of opportunities for Seferian-Jenkins in the middle of the field.
His final line: four targets, one catch for 1 yard and one drop.
In the past, Seferian-Jenkins might have complained about his role. He has done a lot of growing up over the past 12 months, a period during which he acknowledged a drinking problem and sought counseling. Now he tries to understand the big picture before making impulsive comments. If someone told him in the offseason he'd have 44 catches after 13 games, he would've signed up for that, he said.
"Don't get me wrong, I still want the ball," he said, smiling. "I definitely want the ball, but at the same time, it's not just about me. A younger me, I probably would've expressed it in a different way than I am now. It's just understanding there's more than one person on this team.
"These last three weeks, they haven't been great for me, personally, numbers-wise, but I've been blocking great. These next three weeks, who knows what's going to happen? It could be a huge three games. You never know."