Koetter Defends Seferian-Jenkins, Praises Cameron Brate
TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins is expected to be out 4-6 weeks - Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
Zach Shapiro

Koetter Defends Seferian-Jenkins, Praises Cameron Brate

- 20 comments 📅March 24, 2016 10:19 am
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The annual NFL Owners Meeting was held this week in Boca Raton, Florida and PewterReport.com was on hand all four days. On Wednesday morning the NFC coaches met with the media for breakfast and Bucs head coach Dirk Koetter spoke to a number of local and national media regarding his team and the upcoming 2016 season. Here is the third report from the breakfast.

Speaking at the NFL league meetings in Boca Raton Wednesday, Bucs head coach Dirk Koetter said Mike Evans, who led the league with 11 dropped passes in 2015, needed more consistent work habits in order to take his game to the next level. Of course he later added that it’s hard to call a 1,206-season a bad year, suggesting that, with just some minor improvement, Evans could transform his undeniable talent into elite-status by 2016.

As for Tampa Bay’s other third-year pass-catcher, Austin Seferian-Jenkins, the vote of confidence wasn’t quite as convincing.

Photo: Cliff Welch/PR

Bucs HC Dirk Koetter – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

While Koetter defended Seferian-Jenkins’ ability and quickly reminded reporters that he had over 130 yards receiving before a prolonged shoulder injury in Week 3, he acknowledged the legitimate health concerns surrounding the athletic tight end. Since joining the team as a second-round draft pick in 2014, Seferian-Jenkins has missed 16 games due to injuries.

“He’s been in the league two years and he hasn’t been healthy,” Koetter said. “His talent flashes every time he’s on the field. This guy has got huge ability, but a coach told me a long time ago that the best ability is availability.”

Koetter put to rest any notion that Seferian-Jenkins was holding out by choice, insisting that no one worked harder at rehabbing or was more anxious to hit the field than the third-year pro himself. His shoulder injury was significant and it was clear to the coaching staff.

“When you watch a player on film, you can tell when he’s not naturally right because your body will naturally try to protect it,” Koetter said. “He couldn’t hit or be hit on that shoulder. He tried to come back and was just not playing at full capacity there. It was frustrating for everyone, but trust me, no one was more frustrated than him.”

Luckily for the Bucs offense, Cameron Brate exceeded expectations in Seferian-Jenkins’ absence. The undrafted pro out of Harvard seemed to improve every week while developing chemistry with Jameis Winston that Koetter said is hard to replicate.

If there was any silver lining to Seferian-Jenkins’ injury, it was that Brate got exposure and, as a result, set the Bucs up with two capable tight ends for the future. Brate finished the season with 288 yards and three touchdowns on 23 receptions.BRATEDIXON

“(Winston and Brate) had a good feel for each other in the red zone and on seam routes, and Cam made the most of his opportunities,” Koetter said. “Cam is an ascending player and our hope for him is that he takes it and runs with it. That’s what you want. It would be a great story and great for our team.”

Koetter added that both Seferian-Jenkins and Brate are versatile players who will be expected to run- and pass-block as needed. The offense’s personnel groupings are often dictated by the tight end position, so whoever is out there – Seferian-Jenkins, Brate, Luke Stocker or jumbo TE Kevin Pamphile – will need to execute at a high level.

Without even mentioning Vincent Jackson or Adam Humphries, the ceiling appears to be very high for Buccaneers pass-catchers in 2016. If Evans can sort out the minor focus issues and Seferian-Jenkins can stay on the field, with Brate coming in for situational downs, then Tampa Bay could be poised to have a prolific pass-offense led by second-year quarterback Jameis Winston.

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20 Comments

  1. Crook
    March 24, 2016  12:07 pm Crook

    To me, ASJ just seems like a guy that has a ton of talent, but can’t be relied on even when he’s healthy. The offense clicked much better last year when Brate was on the field. I really hope ASJ realizes his talent but I have serious doubts.

  2. devasher
    March 24, 2016  12:24 pm devasher

    If ASJ isn’t the clear starting TE in his 3rd year in the league you can be sure it isn’t because of one or two injuries. I would hope he gets aligned with some of the older vets to take him under their wing because that is a lot of talent to be wasting on the bench during games.

  3. jongruden
    March 24, 2016  12:56 pm jongruden

    Mr. Koetter isn’t mentioning our secret weapon in Stocker “the Blocker” who had 60 yds total last yr and is a PR Player of the week winner, lol

  4. jongruden
    March 24, 2016  12:57 pm jongruden

    Brate and Humphries are the typical overachievers who play hard but lack size and talent.

  5. drdneast
    March 24, 2016  2:45 pm drdneast

    jongruden, sorry I have to disagree with you about both Brate and Humprries. Brate has the speed, but lacks the overall bulk to be a solid blocker. He needs to put on some weight without losing his speed.
    Humpries isn’t a burner but he has the quickness to work the short and intermediate routes we saw him do last year.
    He also knows how to read the zones and find the open spots which are invaluable. A lot of burners never do this and just rely on their top end speed to get open, i.e. Mike Wallace.
    I thin Chris Hogan, now with the Patriots, is just such a receiver. With the patriots pass game I think he will burn the league up this year.
    As for ASJ, my only complaint with him has always been his availability plus his hot dogging in the Titans game.
    But your favorite players, Stocker, also had trouble staying healthy his first couple of years and is doing fine now, much to your chagrin, jonguden.
    Look, Stocker is and always has been, a blocking TE. It’s not his fault the idiot known as Mark Dominick traded up to get a blocking TE when there are lots available on the free market.
    Anthony Becht was a blocking TE and three teams wanted him enough to sign him.
    Sheeeesh.
    I will say ASJ hurt his shoulder on he concrete turf in Atlanta’s dome. Why players would wan to sign FA deals in domes is beyond me.
    There is always a higher incidence of injuries in domes.

  6. jongruden
    March 24, 2016  3:50 pm jongruden

    If you want to say Stocker is a good “blocking TE” fine I’ll give you that but for a guy who has less than 300 receiving in 4 yrs sucks in passing game is not a good TE. Humphries is another Robb Thoams who we had here before if you remember he is quick not fast smallish guy who can make the occasional catch, Hogan is much bigger than Humphries don’t see a comparison there. Brate is a poor man’s TE, does nothing well does everything ok

    • jongruden
      March 24, 2016  4:32 pm jongruden

      Thomas

    • toofamiliar17
      March 25, 2016  2:18 am toofamiliar17

      I mean, he’s clearly not a good receiving TE, that’s certainly true. But just about every team in the league has a blocking specialist TE on the team. Stocker is good in that role. It’s undoubtedly unfortunate that we spent a 4th round pick on that skill set, but that doesn’t mean there’s no value in it. There is. Not that it’s a huge thing, but I’m glad to have Stocker, and as long as he does his job well, he’ll have a spot on this team in that role. Just as he should.

  7. Horse
    March 24, 2016  6:09 pm Horse

    Well this is up to Jenkins to be in football shape when he arrives to camp. Time to shine or be passed up. Brate I bet will come in in shape with add muscle. i was writing Stocker off until he showed what he had when he was healthy. I’m not sure if it’s enough to make the team this time because we’ll take a Te in the later rounds. I love the competition! Go bucs!

  8. drdneast
    March 24, 2016  8:39 pm drdneast

    Robb Thomas was here for two years I think towards the end of his career and was vastly under utilized.
    Once again jongruden, Brate was a FA, not a No.1 draft pick and is only in his second year.
    Give him time, my friend, give him time.
    Josh Norman, CB of the Panthers was also a FA and didn’t hit his stride until this year.
    Hogan listed as 6’1 Humphries at 5’11. Not a huge difference.
    The real difference is the Patriots like to use a short to intermediate passing game whereas Kotter would rather go vertical more often.
    Hogan has been in the league four years and is just starting to hit his stride. Humphries has one year under his belt.
    Once again, give him time.
    Horse, why in the world would you waste a draft pick on a TE when you have Jenkins, Brate, Stocker and Myers on your team and all in good reasonable contracts.

    • funkdoc19
      March 25, 2016  12:39 am funkdoc19

      you may want to fact check that statement on norman…he was drafted, not a free agent…

    • toofamiliar17
      March 25, 2016  2:23 am toofamiliar17

      And don’t forget Tevin Westbrook, who’s exactly the type of player you could land with that late rounder on a TE – potentially good at one particular thing one day, but clearly a developmental player. Agree completely – with the guys we have on the roster right now, we’re completely full at TE. Unless a guy you have rated REALLY highly just falls way down the draft for unknown reasons, drafting one this year makes 0 sense.

      I do expect Myers to be cut, whether it’s sooner or later. It just doesn’t make any sense to pay your 3rd string TE (which is what he is at this point) $2M. Can’t justify it. He’ll be shown the door at some point before week one. But even then, we’re STILL full at TE.

      • WiltheBrewer
        March 25, 2016  9:12 am WiltheBrewer

        Yes, thanks toofam.- I couldn’t remember ‘Westbrook’. They seem to think they can bring him along

    • Horse
      March 25, 2016  11:49 am Horse

      Drdneast, Later rounds because if you remember when Jenkins was out injured only Brate really produced in the two TE set. Myers is a little less than average and we already have said Stocker is mostly a blocker and it looks like one of the OL might replace him for some extra depth. Time to grow another TE, again in the very late rounds. We want to make sure Winston always has good to decent TE’s available for him. Just my thoughts and usually not worth much.

  9. scubog
    March 25, 2016  6:35 am scubog

    I think it’s safe to say we have a lot of potential at the TE position. It’s just amazing to me that some fans equate a serious and confirmed injury with a player being a slacker. ASJ was injured and couldn’t play! Can we at least wait until he gets on the field before writing off his talent? Anyone who watched practice sessions (right Pink) can see his ability. I don’t think he’s that guy who calls in sick the first time he has a runny nose and milks it all week.

    • pinkstob
      March 25, 2016  10:50 am pinkstob

      From what I saw in training camp ASJ looked like he was in better physical shape and also quicker in year 2 than he did his rookie season. However both in TC and in games his hands aren’t consistent enough. To me he lacks toughness and focus on the field, even when he’s healthy. When he has to make a catch high or in traffic he doesn’t come through nearly often enough (his Hail Mary catch against Chicago not withstanding). I try to give every player 3 years before I decide what kind of player they are going to be (unless it’s a RB because they transition easily) so I hope ASJ shows vast improvement this season.

  10. drdneast
    March 25, 2016  1:19 pm drdneast

    I agree pinkstob but I have to admit I was one of those who thought he might be malingering last year.
    One of the reasons I felt that way was because all the writers kept saying wait till he comes back he is going to make such a big difference and he’s so great, blah, blah, blah.
    Formed a reactance in me for the guy.
    As I said, he did injure his shoulder in the Georgia Dome. Why don’t they just go out and play the game in the parking lot, it’s the same thing.

  11. drdneast
    March 25, 2016  1:48 pm drdneast

    Sorry, Jenkins was hurt in New Orleans. Same type of concrete floor.

  12. GoldsonAges
    March 25, 2016  9:19 pm GoldsonAges

    ASJ is a split end not a tight end. He is made of glass and will crumble again if they line him up tight. Let him block on the 2nd level against LB and DB’s. Use 3 TE sets and Doug will have another good year

  13. EastEndBoy
    March 28, 2016  5:14 pm EastEndBoy

    I can’t write a guy off because he’s been injured…should we have written off GMC? Doug Martin struggled through injuries for 2 seasons…Drew Brees was a shell of himself for two years with his shoulder issues…and so on. I’m sure there are lots of examples of guys that had injuries and were terrible too…but I think ASJ has performed well when on the field and healthy, and I for one am looking for big things from him this year…let’s call it 600 yards and 6 TDs as a real TE threat in the league.

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