Put to rest the notion that second-year Tampa Bay tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins is soft.
He’s not. Multiple Bucs sources tell PewterReport.com that he has a legitimate shoulder injury that has kept him out of action on game days since Week 2 at New Orleans.
While the Bucs are anxious to see him return to game action – possibly this week at Philadelphia – his shoulder injury was severe enough to require a significant period of time to recover as PewterReport.com documented in the most recent SR’s Fab 5 column. To inform as many Bucs fans as possible about the severity of Seferian-Jenkins’ injury and recovery timetable, PewterReport.com has chosen to re-publish a part of that SR’s Fab 5 regarding the injury-prone tight end.
Many Buccaneers fans – and some fantasy football players – have grown frustrated with the fact that Seferian-Jenkins has missed the last six and a half games with a shoulder injury. Tampa Bay’s second-round pick in 2014 missed seven games during his rookie season with ankle and back injuries. His back injury required surgery and he ended the season on injured reserve.
Bucs TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
After a dazzling season-opener in which he caught five passes for a career-high 110 yards and two touchdowns, Seferian-Jenkins raised expectations for a breakout year, but after landing hard on the carpeted concrete in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome he suffered a significant shoulder injury. When Seferian-Jenkins returned to practice three weeks ago prior to the Atlanta game there was speculation and some guarded optimism that he might return to action against the Falcons – or at the very least last week against the Giants.
But when neither happened questions surfaced about Seferian-Jenkins’ toughness.
“That’s where we made our mistake a little bit,” Bucs head coach Lovie Smith said last week. “You might have made that mistake a little bit of assuming that when we put him out there in pads that he was ready to go. [When] you talk to a player he is always going to tell you that he is ready to go. I don’t think there has been a setback. I think he’s been on schedule. This is the schedule he’s been on. Again, we had him go out and practice a few weeks back, but that was just running around. He didn’t have any contact or anything like that. We can’t wait to get him back on the football field. He is making progress, but he’s not there yet. As far as this week on whether [he’ll play or not], when a player is ready to go and he is good to go we’ll get him out there. He’s not there yet.”
On Thursday, Seferian-Jenkins addressed his shoulder injury and why it’s taken so long for him to get healthy.
“I’m doing my part, coaches are doing their part, everyone is doing their part, the medical staff is doing their part,” Seferian-Jenkins said. “We have to make sure everyone is healthy and make sure it’s safe for people to go out there. I understand that people want to be out there and all that, but you have to make sure you are healthy and you can, first of all protect yourself, and then protect you teammates. I’m not going to go out there if I can’t protect myself and can’t protect my teammates.”
That’s not Seferian-Jenkins being a prima donna, according to Bucs sources. He’s had a legitimate shoulder that has taken a good deal of time to recover from.
I spoke with PewterReport.com’s resident sports medicine expert Dr. Jason Hunt of Kaizen Orthopedics about shoulder injuries so he could put Seferian-Jenkins’ injury – the exact nature of which hasn’t been revealed to the media – and recovery time into context.
“Inside the shoulder is a labrum – it’s a lining of the shoulder,” Dr. Hunt said. “Your biceps tendon actually connects to the top part of the labrum. That’s an injury that is very susceptible to linemen, who are pushing off on every play. If their arm gets turned a certain way they can have a labrum tear. An injury to the top part of the labrum is called a ‘slap tear.’
“For people who have sublux or dislocate their shoulders there is a capsule at the front of the shoulder, so having a shoulder sprain or a stretch of that capsule can cause some pain and create difficulty in raising the shoulder.”
Bucs TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins – Photo by: Mark Lomoglio/PR
From what PewterReport.com has heard, Seferian-Jenkins had a dislocated shoulder at New Orleans, but hasn’t been able to confirm that. Dr. Hunt said that shoulder injuries can take longer than some knee injuries to recover from and noted that the Bucs put running back Doug Martin on injured reserve in 2013 with a shoulder injury and he missed the final 10 games of that season.
“The shoulder is a complicated joint and the potential for injury there is probably higher than a knee, especially in football,” Dr. Hunt said. “Your arms are often prone and you’re raising them throughout the play. You are in-line blocking and pushing off on it. A lot of shoulder injuries go unnoticed. It’s not like a knee injury where you are cutting and you fell down to the ground. Sometimes it’s ‘I don’t know what happened yesterday, but my shoulder hurts.’
“When you fall directly on your shoulder the most common can be an AC sprain or dislocation. Depending on the degree of the injury it can be a three-to-six week recovery time. Getting back the full range of motion without pain is the key. It can be up to six weeks, and people with a Grade 2 sprain it can be up to 12 weeks. It’s a long recovery in some cases.”
When Smith said Seferian-Jenkins is on schedule the guess here is that he had a Grade 2 sprain because he’s missed the past seven games and was out of commission during the bye week. Bucs officials confirm that Seferian-Jenkins’ injury was severe and the extended recovery time was definitely legitimate. He is itching to get back on the field and put his injuries behind him and pick up where he left off, catching touchdown passes and putting up 100-yard games.
Scott Reynolds is in his 25th year of covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as the vice president, publisher and senior Bucs beat writer for PewterReport.com. Author of the popular SR's Fab 5 column on Fridays, Reynolds oversees web development and forges marketing partnerships for PewterReport.com in addition to his editorial duties. A graduate of Kansas State University in 1995, Reynolds spent six years giving back to the community as the defensive line coach for his sons' Pop Warner team, the South Pasco Predators. Reynolds can be reached at: email@example.com
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