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Keller Ready to Breakout

Third year tight end might be primed for a breakout year this upcoming season.

The talented tight end has shown flashes in hist first two seasons, but has yet to put it all together.

“Expect a big-time player,” Keller said Thursday at OTAs. “Definitely, this will be my best year. Statistically, who knows? But I’m going to be more ready than I ever have been.”

Brash talk from the usually understated Keller. The question is, how many balls will he see?

It will be fascinating to see how Keller fits into the passing game now that QB Mark Sanchez has three front-line options at wide receiver — Jerricho Cotchery, Braylon Edwards and newcomer Santonio Holmes.

There are two schools of thought: 1. Keller will benefit because defenses will be rolling their coverages to the outside, creating favorable matchups for him over the middle. 2. Keller won’t get as many opportunities because he’ll be No. 4 in the pecking order, behind the three wideouts.

What will it be? Keller admitted he’s not sure how it’s going to shake out, noting, “We’re returning the top rushing offense and we brought in Santonio Holmes. We have one of the best receiving corps, if not the best. We’ll have a more balanced attack so people can’t load the box, but we’ll see when training camp starts how it plays out.”

In other words, Keller isn’t counting his receptions before they’re hatched. But if called upon, he expects to deliver. He said O.C. Brian Schottenheimer has talked to him about expanding his role, lining him up in different spots in the formation. In theory, that should make it more difficult for defenses to focus on him. Keller also said they’ve adjusted some of his routes, providing more freedom to change on the fly.

The challenge for Schottenheimer is to keep everybody happy. Keller played about 70% of the snaps last season, often in a two-TE package in Ben Hartsock. This season, that package could be used less frequently, which could hurt the running game. Look for a lot of the “11” personnel package — one back, one tight end and three receivers.

“I think it will be kind of a pick-your-poison situation,” said Keller, who posted 12 catches and three TDs during the postseason, the first time all year he appeared in sync with Sanchez.

I don’t think Keller will put up great numbers statistically, considering he is the number four target in the passing game, but if he can preform like he did in the playoffs that would be ideal and be a great help in the development of Sanchez


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