Buccaneers C Ryan Jensen Not Likely To Be Ready For Regular Season?

Earlier this month, Ryan Jensen indicated he has healed in full after missing the entire 2022 regular season with a trio of ligament tears in his knee. The Buccaneers center has resumed individual work since then, but he has yet to take part in team drills.

Jensen – who declined to undergo surgery and returned in time for the postseason – has kept a part-time schedule so far as he slowly makes his way back to a full workload. Since he has been absent from regular practices, however, head coach Todd Bowles acknowledged that the Pro Bowler is not in consideration for Week 1 usage at this point.

“When we go into the season, I don’t think we’re going to have anybody if they haven’t practiced,” Bowles said (via Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times, on Twitter). “You always prepare if somebody gets hurt or somebody’s gonna stay hurt, so we prepare that way every day so that hasn’t changed.”

When at full health, Jensen will be a critical member of the Buccaneers’ O-line, a unit which has seen a number of changes this offseason. The 32-year-old has been a dependable full-time starter since his arrival in free agency in 2018. A lengthy ramp-up period could be needed for Jensen to receive enough practice reps to be green-lit for a return to game action. With two years remaining on his contract at cap hits of $5.9MM and $17.3MM, a cautious approach from the team would come as no surprise.

With Jensen not in the picture (for the time being), Stroud notes that the Week 1 starting center competition will come down to Robert Hainsey and Nick Leverett (Twitter link). The former started all 17 regular season games at center in Jensen’s absence last season, while the latter logged 10 starts at left guard. Bowles said a final decision on the matter will likely not be made until after the preseason has ended. By that point, it will be interesting to see how much progress Jensen will have made in his ongoing recovery process.

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