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Jets sign Hayden Smith, release Jason Hill

Hayden Smith of Saracens claims the line out

Hayden Smith of Saracens claims the line out ball during the Aviva Premiership match between Saracens and Leicester Tigers. (Feb. 19, 2012) Credit: Getty Images

The Jets announced Saturday afternoon that they have signed tight end Hayden Smith from the practice squad and released wide receiver Jason Hill.

The roster move comes just days after backup tight end Jeff Cumberland told reporters he has a dislocated hand. Cumberland, who suffered the injury in the first quarter of last week's overtime loss to the Patriots, said he expected to be back after the bye week.

The Australian-born Smith, 27, seemed like a longshot to make the active roster way back when. The former rugby player hadn't played a single down of football prior to being signed as an undrafted free agent this offseason. But the Jets found his 6-6, 265-pound frame intriguing enough to take a chance.

Back in July, Rex Ryan was asked "how far away" he thought Smith was from being a football player.

"Probably about the distance from Australia to here," the coach said with a smile. "But you know what, he's come a million miles. I'm so encouraged by him. I can't tell you how far he's come mentally. He's studying, the way he prepares, everything else. That gives him a great opportunity. Because one thing he has, he's got athleticism. He can run, he can catch.

"It's just that you're trying to teach him the game as you go. Is it a work in progress? Absolutely. Is he way further along than I ever thought he would be? One hundred percent."

Hill was signed earlier this month to shore up the receiving corps after Santonio Holmes (Lisfranc) was lost for the season, but he didn't make much of an impact with the team. He registered just two catches for 15 yards and -- as the Tebow-trackers will tell you -- dropped a dead-on, 33-yard Tim Tebow pass against the Texans on Monday Night Football. (Had Hill held on to the ball, the Jets backup quarterback would be 3-for-3 passing the football on offense.)

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