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FLORHAM PARK, N.J. – For Jets backup center Caleb Schlauderaff, there could be an expanded role this Sunday against the Dolphins. With Jason Smith out of Friday’s practice for what head coach Rex Ryan called “personal reasons,” the Jets are without their backup right tackle and their jumbo tight end. Into the void steps Schlauderaff.

Sources tell The Jets Blog that Smith isn’t expected to miss Sunday’s game but just in case, it is Schlauderaff who took on a new role on Friday in practice. Getting snaps at the position is a new fit for the second-year offensive lineman and a tricky one.

“I kind of realize what’s going on in the offense as a center so I know it well, I have to direct things and make calls. This right here, well, it’s different, I’m not used to all that space. But it’s been a crash course,” Schlauderaff told The Jets Blog.

“You’re basically doing the same thing as the tight end you’re just 60 pounds heavier. So the dynamics of it are different but it plays to my strengths. It’s really just another way to get another offensive lineman on the field.”

He found out on Thursday night that he’d be needed as a jumbo tight end for Friday’s practice and he is preparing as if he might be needed on Sunday. It’s a good opportunity for a player who at the University of Utah was a third-team All-American in 2010 to showcase his ability. Previous players who have filled this role such as Rob Turner, Wayne Hunter and Vlad Ducasse have all gone on to an expanded role with the Jets or elsewhere in the league.

There is a smirk from him when asked about playing the position, especially since at 6’4 and 305 lbs. he looks nothing like Dustin Keller, Jeff Cumberland or Konrad Reuland, the tight ends on the Jets roster. He last played tight end in middle school so this is a bit excitement for Schlauderaff, even if it’s just practice. There might even be the possibility of getting a ball thrown in his direction should he ever play in a game at jumbo tight end.

“Jason’s had a couple routes this year [but he] hasn’t had the ball thrown to him yet. We do throw at the jumbo tight end a bit,” Schlauderaff said. “I think most offensive lineman go through their career without a ball being thrown at them. It’s been fun so far, a nice way to change things up.”

Kristian R. Dyer covers the Jets for Metro New York and also contributes to Yahoo!Sports. He can be followed for news, insight and snarky comments @KristianRDyer.

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