Buccaneers aim for more production from tight end position
TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — With Jameis Winston throwing the football and Dirk Koetter calling plays, a healthy Austin Seferian-Jenkins figures to get more opportunities to flourish in Tampa Bay’s offense.
Same goes for Luke Stocker, Brandon Myers, Tim Wright and maybe even Cameron Brate, too.
The Buccaneers are seeking more production from a versatile group of tight ends excited by the prospect of an increased workload in a passing attack that ranked among the worst in the NFL a year ago.
The team’s rookie quarterback and new offensive coordinator are exploring all options to get better.
"When I look at this team, I see everyone as targets," Winston said.
"Those guys are good," the No. 1 overall pick in this year’s draft added. "It’s a lot of things in position for us to succeed."
Tampa Bay tight ends had a combined 51 receptions for 469 yards and two touchdowns last season, with Seferian-Jenkins and Myers accounting for most of those yards.
The group was strengthened this spring by the signing of Wright. He rejoined the Bucs after spending last season in New England, where he had 26 receptions, scored six TDs and won a Super Bowl ring.
The Patriots acquired him in a 2014 preseason trade that brought Logan Mankins to Tampa Bay last August. As a rookie with the Bucs in 2013, Wright had 54 receptions for 571 yards and five touchdowns.
"It’s just a good group," said Koetter, who spent the last three seasons as offensive coordinator in Atlanta. "We haven’t really sorted out their roles yet. We have to see who makes it first."
The 6-foot-5, 262-pound Seferian-Jenkins, a second-round draft pick out of Washington in 2014, is a prospect who excites the entire Tampa Bay coaching staff.
Koetter coached 14-time Pro Bowl selection Tony Gonzalez late in his career and said a healthy Seferian-Jenkins reminds him of the former Chiefs and Falcons tight end.
"If Austin can stay healthy we have very high expectations," the offensive coordinator said, "and so does he."
A foot injury that required surgery slowed Seferian-Jenkins during the offseason leading to his rookie year. A sore ankle and back problems also contributed to him being limited to just 21 receptions for 221 yards and two TDs in nine games.
None of Tampa Bay’s returning tight ends scored in 2014. Myers had 22 catches for 190 yards; Stocker had seven for 41 yards, and Brate one for 17 yards.
"Twenty-one catches isn’t who I am," Seferian-Jenkins said, adding he reported to training camp last week healthy and eager to improve.
"Losing the way we lost is the toughest part about it," he said, reflecting on his injuries, as well as last season’s 2-14 record, Tampa Bay’s worst in 28 seasons.
"You can’t be out there and you’re not yourself; you’re not the player you know you are," Seferian-Jenkins added. "It’s frustrating … but I feel back to myself, I feel good, I’m excited."
He also relishes a chance to grow with Winston in an offensive system that demands a lot from tight ends.
"We have to make our plays, though," the second-year pro said. "I don’t care how important a tight end is in the offense. … When we have the opportunity to make plays as a group, we need to make them."
- Austin Seferian-Jenkins
- Brandon Myers
- Cameron Brate
- FOX Sports Florida
- FOX Sports Florida - Buccaneers
- Logan Mankins
- Luke Stocker
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers