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July 28, 2014 @ 1:54 pm
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Bucs Seferian-Jenkins Playing Catchup

Written by Haley
Cornish
Haley Cornish

Haley
Cornish

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Austin Seferian-Jenkins missed several offseason workouts due to an NFL and NCAA rule that prevented him from joining his teammates this spring and now is behind. But both Seferian-Jenkins and head coach Lovie Smith expect him to be up to speed soon.
The excitement about the start of training camp is evident among the players and coaches at One Buc Place, but the player who seems most eager to get back on the field is tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins. The second-round pick missed all of the offseason programs (aside from the rookie mini-camp) due to school obligations that prevented him from joining his teammates.

“Everyone else has been here for the offseason program,” Seferian-Jenkins said. “I don’t know how many practices they had exactly but I’m obviously behind the ball. Those guys were working together, getting chemistry together and that’s what training camp is for, I’ll have a lot of time to catch up and I feel comfortable about that right now and feel like I’ll keep progressing.”

Head coach Lovie Smith agreed that the rookie was a little bit behind the rest of the team, but felt that he was working hard to get where he needs to be.

“He’s playing catch up,” Smith said following Friday's first practice. “But he’s catching up. He made some good plays out there today. Good size, mentally he stayed in the game. If you talk to him, that’s not going to be a problem for him. You notice him size-wise too, so yeah its catch up, but I think he will be able to do that. He wants to be judged on what he’ll be able to do. The injury, didn’t see any effects from that injury he had, so tomorrow (Saturday) will be a big day.”

The 6-6, 258 pound tight end had a disappointing final season at Washington after an impressive 2012 year. He ended with just 36 receptions for 450 yards and eight touchdowns. His nagging foot injury was a factor in the decline. The towering rookie said he had pain last season, but feels much better after spending the offseason rehabbing.

“Oh, it feels so good,” Seferian-Jenkins said. “When you’re running out there during the season I could kind of feel my foot, you always kind of thought about it. But now it’s refreshing to be able to run around. I get a little tired because I haven’t been able to run around like that. But it feels really good and I thank God for that because I haven’t felt like that in a long time.”

“There’s really nothing you can do to substitute running around here,” Seferian-Jenkins said. “Give credit to EXOS in Phoenix for really getting me as prepared as I could. Nutrition, running, weight-lifting, all that stuff, recovery, treatment on my foot. They made my foot feel a lot better. I was there for a couple months and then I came here and I tried to get as many mental reps as I could watching film.”

The tight end is especially excited to put the pads on for the first time. He will be competing with Tim Wright, who had a very good rookie season after going undrafted, and veteran Brandon Myers, who the Bucs signed in free agency this offseason. But head coach Lovie Smith said he plans on using all three tight ends come game day.

“They all do things differently as you look at it,” Smith said. “Brandon is more of Y, line of scrimmage; Austin Seferian-Jenkins can do both; Tim is more of an H-back. So they really have different roles and we will dress three tight ends each week and all three will play and it will be kind of fun to see where they
can end up. But they give us a lot of options. And not just them, Luke Stocker, you can throw him in there also.”

The battle to win the starting tight end role will be one to watch during training camp, especially with Seferian-Jenkins at full health. With a second-round draft pick invested, the Bucs are counting on their investment to pay early dividends.

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