Bucs center Ryan Jensen is eligible to practice with the team again on Wednesday. The news was first reported by Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times.
Tampa Bay has begun a 21-day practice period for the Pro Bowler, who suffered a ligament-damaged knee injury on the second day of training camp. That means the ninth-year center has 21 days to practice with the Bucs before they have to activate him for the 53-man roster or place him back on injured reserve.
Jensen could qualify for Sunday’s game against the Panthers, although that’s unlikely as conditioning could be a factor as he hasn’t trained in five months. Instead, he is diligently rehabilitating his injured left knee since being placed injured reserve on September 1. Jensen’s injury did not require surgery.
The Bucs have two games left to play this season: at home against Carolina and an away game in Atlanta. If they win on Sunday, the Bucs will win the NFC South in consecutive years and make the playoffs. If training goes well and his condition is good, Jensen could return to action for the postseason in January if he is not ready sooner.
If Jensen’s knee feels good during training, the only problem may be endurance. It’s one thing for a defensive tackle like Vita Vea to return from a leg injury, as he did in the 2020 NFC Championship Game and Super Bowl LV, as Vea entered the defensive line.
It’s hard to turn in a center during a game because of the continuity with the snaps to Brady and the chemistry along the offensive line. If Jensen returns to the starting lineup at any point, he should be ready to play an entire game, which equates to more than 50 snaps.
Jensen’s return could add an emotional spark to Bucs’ attack
The Bucs signed Jensen to a lucrative three-year deal worth $39 million this offseason. Jensen signed the deal on the eve of free agency when he learned that future Hall of Fame quarterback Tom Brady would return for a third season in Tampa Bay. Jensen’s deal is worth $13 million per season, making him the highest paid tackle in the NFL.
Jensen’s leadership along the offensive line has been missed this season. His return to training – and perhaps eventually to a game – could provide a much-needed emotional boost for the attack. Sophomore player Robert Hainsey has put in an admirable effort in the center, but he lacks Jensen’s fire and brimstone attitude, in addition to his experience.
The Bucs also missed Jensen’s rough run-blocking. Tampa Bay ranks last in the NFL in rushing this year with 1,155 yards, averaging just 3.4 yards per carry. The offensive line also struggles with pass protection, with Brady occasionally clearing the ball faster than he’d like.
#Bucs #Jensen #returns #practice