The knee injury Ryan Jensen suffered during training camp was initially rumored to be season-ending, but a subsequent report indicated the Buccaneers were holding out hope their center could return in the playoffs. Their IR management reflected that.
But Jensen now appears to have a chance to come back much earlier. The Bucs have a November Jensen return on their radar, Jason Cole of Outkick.com notes. A Jensen return as early as Nov. 6 is in play, according to Cole, but it might take a bit longer for conditioning purposes. The Bucs’ Week 11 bye could conceivably become a key date on Jensen’s timeline, but the team hopes he can return for its Nov. 6 Rams matchup.
A regular-season Jensen return would be important for a Bucs team that is one of a few NFC contenders to have displayed inconsistency to start this season. Although Pro Football Focus still rates Tampa Bay’s offensive line seventh after six weeks, Jensen would certainly be a welcome addition. The 31-year-old center has started for the past four Bucs editions. Coming into this season, the former Ravens draftee had never missed a game since signing with the Bucs in 2018.
The Bucs gave Jensen a three-year, $39MM deal to re-sign this year, doing so shortly after Tom Brady recommitted to the team following his brief retirement. Brady’s midgame address to his line in Pittsburgh drew attention, and this season has been an adjustment for the all-time great. The Bucs have been without Jensen and guard Aaron Stinnie, who is out for the year, and their offseason included Ali Marpet‘s retirement and Alex Cappa‘s free agency signing with the Bengals.
Tampa Bay did trade for Shaq Mason, however, and PFF rates Jensen fill-in Robert Hainsey as its sixth-best center thus far. That pedigree did not show up much in Pittsburgh, partially leading to Brady’s sideline speech. But the continuity Brady enjoyed during his first two Tampa seasons ended this offseason. The Bucs rank 20th in scoring and 21st in total offense. Their rushing attack sits last; Tampa Bay has topped 80 rushing yards in a game just once this season (Week 1).
One comment on “Ryan Jensen November Return In Play?”
Part of the fall in rushing statistics is the lethargic passing game. The Bucs are falling behind in games and attempting to throw their way back in, and it’s early enough in the season for the one Green Bay smackdown to have an impact on their overall pass attempts.
Fournette is the most important piece on the offense, and he needs more carries. Brady will likely pick it up, but he has looked only okay the last few weeks. This is a talented WR corps that he is throwing to, even with a couple of seemingly rotating injuries. Maybe Brady and Leftwich are intentionally trying to take advantage of that mostly by air, or maybe it’s unintentional and there’s nobody there making them run it. In any case, Fournette needs the ball more on the ground.