No one came out of nowhere last year quite like Tampa Bay Buccaneers tight end Cameron Brate.
Yes, left guard Ali Marpet jumped right into the starting lineup from Division III Hobart College and more than held his own against NFL competition. But the team traded up in the draft to take Marpet in the second round, which garners lofty built-in expectations to be an impact player sooner rather than later.
Bucs TE Cameron Brate – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
Brate, on the other hand, was released by the team two days following Week 1’s embarrassing blowout against Tennessee. After being scooped up the next day by New Orleans, the Bucs’ Week 2 opponent, the 2014 undrafted free agent was back in Tampa Bay in time for Week 3 in Houston.
To say the decision to bring Brate back paid off is an understatement. Oft-injured tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins went down again during the Week 2 win against the Saints and it was Brate who emerged as quarterback Jameis Winston’s most-reliable target at the position. The Harvard grad broke out with a 23-reception, 288-yard season while hauling in three touchdowns.
One of Brate’s top qualities as a receiver is his ability to get open and convert plays in short-yardage and red-zone situations. He showed that during Tampa Bay’s three-day minicamp this past week and head coach Dirk Koetter praised his efforts.
“Cam, he’s got an uncanny ability to show up in the red zone and did so again today,” Koetter said Thursday.
Brate has shown up to offseason workouts in great shape and finds himself right back in the competition for playing time and receptions with Seferian-Jenkins. Also back for 2016 are Brandon Myers and Luke Stocker – utilized mostly for their blocking abilities – as well as second-year Tevin Westbrook.
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It will be interesting to see the competition at the TE/H/FB positions. Since the pure FB position has been virtually eliminated, that leaves the possibility that 5 players will be kept at the multi-faceted group. ASJ, Stocker, (sorry jonnyg, Brate, Westbrook and Vitale. Anxious to see Westbrook at Training Camp. He sure looks the part.
Scubog, agree with you. This is a make or break year for ASJ and so far he is off on the wrong foot at the start of 2016. I hope he has woken up? You don’t go three years showing nothing and expect to all of a sudden perform for another team.
Dan vitale is the draft pick im interested in hearing about! How has he looked? Is he gonna be our x factor/ winston outlet? Matchup nightmare?
He needs to have a spectacular year. If he does, he will be rewarded by this organization. If he doesn’t the bucs are not going to waste any more time on him.
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