06 December 2015: Tampa Bay Buccaneers tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins (87) can't make a catch in the end zone well being covered by Atlanta Falcons middle linebacker Paul Worrilow (55) in the 3rd quarter of the NFL game between the Atlanta Falcons and Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, FL. (Photo by Mark LoMoglio/Icon Sportswire)
Teammates, coaches, fans, front-office personnel, everyone’s been waiting – some more impatiently than others – for the return of tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins.
No one, however, wanted it more than the player himself.
“I was super excited to get out there and play,” Seferian-Jenkins said from in front of his locker Wednesday. “Football is what I love. I love to be around these guys and help support [them] any way I can. Being out on the football field was a big step in doing that. I was a little rusty out there, a little anxious, pressed a little too much, but I was very happy to be out there and very happy to do whatever I could to help.”
“No one wants to play more than Austin,” offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter said. “If you ever watched Austin during those games when he was hurt on the sideline, he’s the No. 1 cheerleader out there. I just know from my conversations with him that that guy really missed playing. He really wanted to play. Heck, he was coaching Tevin Westbrook, our tight end on the practice squad. Austin has been coaching him up.”
With Seferian-Jenkins back to expending that pent-up energy on the field, Tampa Bay can finally run out the offensive packages it began scheming in the offseason. And as it turned out, the team may be even stronger now after enduring his injury because of the emergence of tight end Cameron Brate as a viable option in the passing game.
“It was good to see all of our offensive guys,” head coach Lovie Smith said Wednesday. “I think it might have been the first time they all played together – Vince [Jackson], Mike [Evans], Doug [Martin], everybody there for Jameis [Winston].”
Smith wasn’t quite accurate with that memory, but it’s hard to blame him considering Seferian-Jenkins only appeared in the first two games prior to last weekend. The second-year tight end started Week 2 in New Orleans before going out early with an injury and receiver Mike Evans, inactive for Week 1, played on a limited basis.
But that was then, this is now, and the Buccaneers sit at 6-6 with their “Dunkaneer” weaponry a full-go to attack four more defenses this season.
“He’s a big target, the one game he did play for us early in the year he was a factor,” Smith said. “He’s someone you have to deal with. You need all your weapons – whether it’s blocking, him catching the ball – we do a lot of different things with him.”
That one game Smith mentioned, Week 1 against Tennessee, saw Seferian-Jenkins haul in five of seven targets for 110 yards and two touchdowns. In his first post-shoulder-injury game on Sunday, results were far less gaudy (three receptions on six targets for 31 yards and no touchdowns) but still impactful and positive.
“Austin was a little bit rusty, looked like a guy who hadn’t played in nine weeks,” Koetter said. “You take nine weeks off … practice is practice, but game speed in the NFL is game speed. And then he took that shot.”
“That shot” was the heavy welcome-back hit Falcons safety William Moore laid on Seferian-Jenkins in the first quarter. It was the first time Winston looked his way and the tight end held on for a 15-yard gain.
“That was a good shot William Moore put on him,” Koetter said. “I was a little nervous when he kind of popped up, but he hung in there and played 20-something plays and I’m sure that number will continue to grow from here on.”
While no teeth-rattling hit in the NFL probably feels too great on the receiving end, Seferian-Jenkins said he was glad to get it his first catch and contact out of the way without incident.
“It’s football, so obviously it’s going to feel a little bit of both,” he said when asked about the hit. “It felt good to get hit and it felt good to get back up, but at the end of the day William Moore packs a pretty powerful punch. So yeah, I was a little sore.”
Bucs TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
With the aches and pains of game day subsiding and preparation for New Orleans in full swing, Seferian-Jenkins said the goals are to finish the season healthy and help take the steadily improving offense to a new level.
“We’re getting more and more practice together, getting more game time together and we’re excited. We’ve got four games left and the most important thing is going against New Orleans this week. It’s going to be a good game for us, a good game for them and you can only take it one game at a time and try to go 1-0.”
Especially with Dotson back the next three games are very doable. Lansanah can do well at MLB and Carter knows this offense well and played SLB for Dallas so he can cover SLB for us for the next four games. Carolina has secured the playoffs already and if they have secured home field advantage before their last game they may rest their starters for the playoffs the last game like many NFL Teams do, then we could be in the playoffs this year. Don’t forget Carolina’s Coach learned under Lovie in Chicago and may be willing to do his old Coach a favor.
I feel where you’re coming from Owly, but I wouldn’t count on that good ole boy discount from Ron Rivera. I’m sure they’re old pals again, but at the time Rivera worked for Lovie as DC with the Bears, Lovie fired him and Rivera was forced to take a job with the Chargers as LB coach!
Our best bet is to hope Cam Newton comes down with a 24hr virus on the day we play them. lol.
I agree mac that no “ole boy discount” is going to happen, but I also agree with the point Owly makes that if CAR has home field wrapped up (they have a 2 game lead now and so that looks very possible), they would be crazy to risk Cam Newton (with his history of injuries) or guys like Keuchley (who has already had a concussion this year)…I think we could very well find ourselves playing the CAR B-team in that last game…
owlykat, if the Panthers are still undefeated going into the final game, don’t expect any favors from Ron Rivera. Even if they aren’t, don’t expect and NFL coach to have any sentiments like the one you mentioned.
Besides, the Bucs are more talented and have more weapons on offense than the Panthers do. Unfortunately, they have the better defense.
Talk about playing one game at a time but I can’t resist.
The key to stopping Cam Newton is to keep him in the pocket. He really has terrible mechanics sometimes and his foot work is often atrocious.
This game has the makings of a shoot-out and we finally can bring our own weapons to the corral. The Saints no longer have those two thorns in our side in Sproles and Graham… and now don’t have Ingram. If we don’t give this game away, we should be able to send that whining coach Sean “Poutin” back to Lose-iana to work on his resume’. He’s ready to bail with Drew Brees nearing the end of the line.
Like your post scudog but Poutin was certainly right when he went after the officials last week for allowing the Panthers to have 12 men in the huddle.
The infraction didn’t just happen once but numerous times and the officials did nothing even after Poutin alerted them after the first time.
This just exhibited how incompetent and egocentric the referees have become in the NFL.
drdneast….They need full time referees. Enough of this amateur hour stuff. It’s not like the NFL can’t afford it.
Glad Jenkins is back, but he has a lot to prove. 1) That he is not an injury prone player
2) that he has consistent talent that can produce week to week.
Until I see some evidence of those two factors, We need to start thinking about TE’s next year.
We’ll need all the offensive tools working on all cylinders. We’re not going to be able to replace Kwon with next man up mentality. We have to do some blitzing and hope also we can get to Brees. lets go Bucs! Two in a row!
I don’t want to hear about Cams Mechanics he is the “Lebron” of the NFL winning with Cochery and Tedd Ginn at wideout hell he is undefeated to say anything against Cam is coming from another place except football and simply biased opinion. I don’t know why you guys want the Panthers to lie down against us and not play their best players? You want a “gimmie” win, “F” that I want to beat their best put Cam in there and lets see how good we are, I’m tired of beating back up qb’s and then pounding our chests. Sweeping Ryan was great and beating Brees but I don’t take a lot of pride in beating back ups at qb.
For once we agree on something jongruden. I want the Bucs to face the Panthers at full strength. Both teams.
What I don’t agree wit you on is Newton’s mechanics in the pocket. I also don’t like his theatrics when he scores a TD or a first down.
You don’t see Brady, Manning, Rogers or any other QB grandstanding that way.
Then it becomes all about Cam. Even giving away balls to fans has the smell of, “look what a good guy I am.”
Glad are QB celebrates with his teammates.
GLad you mentioned that drd. Have you seen this video of jameis pregame dancing with the squad yet. Had me rolling.
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