Buccaneers fear season-ending knee injury for C Ryan Jensen

JULY 29: The Bucs are indeed concerned that Jensen will be out for the season, Rapoport adds. Todd Bowles confirmed on Friday that the team’s starting center will be seriously short of time (video connections). New Tampa Bay HC didn’t say Jensen would miss the entire season, citing a potential schedule of several months.

The Bucs have already discussed bringing in a veteran, according to Bowles, although the fourth-year Tampa Bay staffer said those discussions haven’t progressed too far yet. Hainsey, a right tackle at Notre Dame who converted on the inside as a pro, should receive the first crack to replace Jensen, with Rapoport. Nick Leverteta former UDFA player who played two games last season is also in the game.

JULY 28: A truck transported Buccaneers center ryan jensen off the training ground on Thursday, and the team is worried about a long absence. The Bucs are concerned that the recently re-signed snapper has suffered a serious injury, report NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport and Mike Garafolo (on Twitter).

These reports usually precede bad news for teams. The Bucs just gave Jensen a second deal — a three-year, $39 million deal — to return as a Tom Brady‘s center. Testing is underway here, but a source told ESPN.com’s Adam Schefter that this situation “doesn’t look good” for the veteran blocker (Twitter link). Jensen is dealing with a serious injury, according to Aaron Wilson of ProFootballNetwork.com (on Twitter). His season is certainly compromised.

Offensive line continuity played a big part in the Bucs’ rise to the Super Bowl LV championship, but the 2021 playoffs and this offseason have brought uncertainty to the Tampa Bay front. This year brought a considerable change to the O line, with a long-time guard Ali Marpet retiring and the Bucs letting their other guard start – Alex Cappa — default to the Bengals in free agency. Jensen’s absence would create a new problem for the Bucs, who will have the longest-serving starting quarterback in NFL history.

Jensen’s recommitment to the Bucs came right after Brady’s; the ninth-year center re-signed with the team hours after Brady’s retirement. Jensen has established himself as one of the best centers in the NFL, after going from a sixth-round pick to stepping up a one-year contract with the Ravens to a deal with the Bucs in 2018. On that pact, Jensen didn’t miss a game. The former Colorado State-Pueblo player hasn’t missed a game since the 2016 season. Jensen, 31, made his first Pro Bowl last season.

Tampa Bay traded a Day 3 pick to acquire Shaq Mason, reuniting Brady with one of his longtime Patriots guards. But the team could soon be vulnerable to two guard positions. With O-line inside play vital to Brady-led offenses, the Bucs could use another veteran backup. While premature here, the center features an interesting and experienced free agent culture. J.-C. Tretter, Matt Paradise and Trey Hopkins remain available.

For the moment, Robert Hainsey will take over at center, Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times tweet. Competing for each other guardhouse with second-round pick Luc Goedeke and the recently re-signed Aaron Stinnie, Hainsey is a third-round pick in his second season. Tampa Bay quickly addressed the Rob Gronkowski cancel by signing Kyle Rudolph. If Jensen is about to miss a lot of time, it wouldn’t be surprising if Tampa Bay signed one of the best free agent snappers.

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