Unforeseen Blow to Tampa Bay Bucs as Center Ryan Jensen Sidelined with Knee Injury: Uncertain Return Date

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers Offensive Line: Challenges Ahead

Injury Concerns for Ryan Jensen

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers face a significant challenge as they kick off the new season, with only 60% of their starting offensive line from last year. The team suffered a major blow during training camp when their starting center, Ryan Jensen, sustained a left knee injury. Jensen, not only a crucial component of the offensive line but also Tom Brady’s on-field bodyguard, now faces an uncertain recovery timeline.

The Severity of Jensen’s Injury

At this stage, the severity of Jensen’s knee injury remains unknown. The team is eagerly awaiting the reduction of swelling before scheduling an MRI. Unfortunately, initial signs are pointing toward a grave situation, leaving the Bucs concerned that Jensen might be sidelined for the entire season.

Head coach Todd Bowles expressed uncertainty about the exact extent of the injury, but he has acknowledged the likelihood of Jensen missing a significant amount of time, possibly up to a couple of months. Whether Jensen can make a comeback later in the season, possibly in November or December, depends on the findings of further evaluation.

Ryan Jensen’s Journey

Ryan Jensen’s football journey began when he was selected as a sixth-round draft pick out of Colorado State-Pueblo. Although his early years in Baltimore were challenging, Jensen’s performance caught the attention of the Baltimore Ravens, who took a chance on him in 2013 after an impressive combine showing. He established himself as a starter in 2017 and subsequently signed a lucrative four-year contract with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2018, worth $42 million and including $22 million in guaranteed salary. At the time, Jensen became the highest-paid center in the entire NFL. In March, he further extended his contract with the Bucs for three more seasons, worth $39 million.

Adjusting to Life Without Jensen: Next Man Up

The Impact of Jensen’s Absence

Losing an influential figure like Jensen deals a significant blow to the Buccaneers’ offensive line. He was known as the enforcer of their offense, providing a level of grit and energy that will be sorely missed. His absence leaves a void that his teammates and coaching staff will need to navigate.

Jensen’s presence was crucial in protecting Tom Brady, as evidenced by his exceptional performance last season. He allowed only two sacks, including the playoffs, and achieved an impressive success rate of 93% in his blocking assignments. The Buccaneers will need to find a way to fill this void adequately to ensure Brady’s continued protection.

The Challenge of Breaking in New Offensive Linemen

Even before Jensen’s injury, the Bucs were already facing the task of integrating two new offensive linemen into the team. Right guard Alex Cappa departed for the Cincinnati Bengals in free agency, and Ali Marpet, who shifted from center to left guard after Jensen’s arrival in 2018, retired at the end of the last season. This meant that the Buccaneers were already in a transitional phase, adjusting to a partially revamped offensive line.

Robert Hainsey: The Potential Starter

To overcome the absence of Jensen, coach Todd Bowles will need to promote either Robert Hainsey or Nick Leverett to the starting center position. Hainsey, a third-round pick in the 2021 NFL Draft from Notre Dame, possesses the potential to secure this crucial role. While Hainsey primarily played as a tackle, he moved to the backup center position last season, showcasing his versatility and adaptability.

Hainsey’s transition to the role of starting center offers an opportunity to demonstrate his capabilities as a player. His performance will determine whether he can effectively fill Jensen’s shoes and provide the necessary protection for Tom Brady.

Impact on Super Bowl Aspirations

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers, following Tom Brady’s decision to return from retirement, entered the season as favorites to win Super Bowl 57, with odds at +700. Despite Jensen’s injury, these odds have not seen any significant change. Additionally, the Bucs retain +350 odds to win the NFC Championship, indicating the continued confidence in the team’s overall potential.


The Tampa Bay Buccaneers face a challenging start to the season with a depleted offensive line, losing key players such as Ryan Jensen. The severity of Jensen’s knee injury remains uncertain, but signs point towards a lengthy absence. His role as Tom Brady’s protector and the enforcer of the offense will be sorely missed.

The onus now falls on the coaching staff to quickly adapt and integrate new linemen into the team, particularly at the center position. Robert Hainsey, a promising young talent, has the opportunity to step up and prove himself. The success of the Buccaneers will depend on how effectively they can overcome these challenges and continue to protect their star quarterback.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. How long is Ryan Jensen expected to be out?

The severity of Ryan Jensen’s knee injury is yet to be determined fully. However, initial indications suggest that he could be sidelined for a significant period, potentially a couple of months or even the entire season.

2. Who will replace Ryan Jensen at center?

The Buccaneers will look to promote either Robert Hainsey or Nick Leverett to fill the void left by Ryan Jensen. Hainsey, a third-round draft pick in 2021, is seen as the frontrunner for the starting center position.

3. How important is Ryan Jensen to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers?

Ryan Jensen plays a crucial role as the anchor of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers offensive line. His abilities as a protector and enforcer of the offense are highly valued, and his absence will undoubtedly be felt by the team.

4. What are the odds of the Buccaneers winning Super Bowl 57?

Despite the injury to Ryan Jensen, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers remain among the favorites to win Super Bowl 57, with odds at +700. This reflects the continued confidence in their overall team strength, even in the face of adversity.

5. Can Robert Hainsey effectively fill the void left by Ryan Jensen?

Robert Hainsey, a promising young player, has the opportunity to prove himself as the starting center for the Buccaneers. While it remains to be seen if he can match Jensen’s impact, Hainsey’s versatility and potential make him an intriguing prospect for the team.

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Doug I. Jones

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