Last year when Bucs TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins was sidelined with a shoulder injury, his position was filled by a rookie who sat on the practice squad for the majority of the 2014 season. Tampa almost lost the Harvard graduate, as he was released from the practice squad and picked up the New Orleans Saints. Luckily, he was released from their practice squad, because when ASJ went down, Brate came up.
Brate’s sure-handedness encouraged Jameis Winston to target him 30 times last year, and he caught 23 of those targets for 288 yards, and three touchdowns. Now, sure ASJ played 7 games and recorded 388 yards with four touchdowns, but he was also thrown to 40 times and only caught 21 of those passes.
It may seem that at times ASJ’s flashes of talent set him above the rest of the TE’s, but there is one thing ASJ lacks, and that is consistency. ASJ was once considered by many and still considered by some, to become one of the better tight ends in the league. However, if he is injured one more time, I’m sure that idea will be laid to rest, quickly. Also considering how Jenkins has been performing in practices, many are leaning towards Brate getting the starting role. Heck, I at first believed that there was no way that ASJ would be 2nd banana to anyone, but the more I watch practice film, the more I see this could be a real possibility. Last year, Brate became an instant fan favorite and many really didn’t want ASJ to even return.
Although their talent levels are slightly unbalanced, there is no denying Brate’s skill set, consistency, and sure hands, as they set him apart from the others. Some believe those traits are more of a winning combination than flashes of greatness here and there. I, also am a fan of that ideal. Dirk Koetter also believes Brate is going to become a main player in the Tampa offense, citing his uncanny ability to find the end zone, and how last year he saw great potential in him that he improves weekly. It’s almost scary in knowing the fact that we could have lost him to another team. Brate was the most efficient receiver on the Buccaneers last year, and get this, among all tight ends with 20 or more targets, Brate finished fifth in per target efficiency. ASJ finished 15th or 16th, does it even matter?
Now it won’t be a straight-up, uprooting of ASJ from the starting role. I mean he still is a pretty good player. Dirk Koetter even said he believes Jenkins could be as good as Tony Gonzalez. But ASJ has only played 16 games in two seasons. With ASJ’s recent practice woes, you know the whole thrown out of practice for not knowing what he’s doing thing. Along with his proneness to injury, Austin Seferian-Jenkins is truly in danger of losing his job to Cameron Brate.