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How will the Tampa Bay Buccaneers move forward without their starting middle?

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers had been dealt a devastating blow throughout the first week of coaching camp, as middle Ryan Jensen suffered what’s believed to be a significant knee harm, sources inform Aaron Wilson of Pro Football Network. The Bucs will conduct additional exams to substantiate Jensen’s medical outlook, however the group seems to be bracing for the worst.

Buccaneers C Ryan Jensen suffers critical knee harm

Jensen injured his left leg throughout Thursday’s apply session, and the state of affairs instantly appeared critical. The veteran middle slammed his helmet to the floor, and the complete Tampa Bay squad gathered round him earlier than he was carted to the locker room.

Jensen, who spent the first 4 years of his profession with the Ravens earlier than becoming a member of the Buccaneers in 2018, is the definition of an NFL iron man. He hasn’t missed a single recreation — and has barely been off the discipline for a snap — since changing into a full-time participant in 2017.

That degree of availability, together with Jensen’s standout manufacturing, is why Tampa Bay made the 31-year-old a precedence when the free agent market opened earlier this yr. Jensen was linked to the Bengals, Jaguars, and Jets earlier than he formally grew to become a free agent. Yet, he re-signed with the Buccaneers on a three-year, $39 million deal simply hours after Tom Brady introduced he was ending his retirement.

Tampa is already coping with offensive line turnover, so Jensen’s stabilizing presence was set to be vital. The Buccaneers are integrating commerce acquisition Shaq Mason at proper guard and looking for a successor to Ali Marpet at left guard. Aaron Stinnie, who’s been with the Bucs since 2019, is the main contender to fill Marpet’s position, however 2021 third-round choose Robert Hainsey and rookie second-rounder Luke Goedeke are additionally in competition.

How Tampa Bay can exchange Jensen

Hainsey stepped in for Jensen when he went down in apply, indicating the 23-year-old is subsequent in line at middle. A top-ranked highschool recruit earlier than he attended Notre Dame, Hainsey was considered as a stable run-blocking prospect when he entered the 2021 NFL Draft. In his rookie marketing campaign with the Buccaneers, he appeared in 9 video games, however he performed extra snaps on particular groups (35) than on offense (31).

Hainsey will get the first crack to exchange Jensen, and Goedeke can play middle too. But if Brady desires a extra skilled middle snapping him the ball, Tampa may look to the free agent or commerce markets.

JC Tretter is the finest free agent middle accessible, and he’d make sense for a veteran-laden Buccaneers roster. He has the veteran expertise required to transition to a brand new offense seamlessly, and he’d be capable of adapt to his environment shortly. Like Jensen, Tretter is all the time accessible — he’s missed one recreation since 2017, and that was as a result of COVID. Other free agent facilities that might get a glance from Tampa Bay embrace Trey Hopkins, Matt Paradis, and Billy Price.

If the Bucs are keen to make a commerce, different choices needs to be accessible. Graham Glasgow is competing for a starting guard position with the Broncos, however he’s spent loads of time at middle. After transforming his contract earlier this yr, he’s solely due a $3.1 million base wage.

Elsewhere, the Dolphins’ Michael Deiter is out of a job after Miami signed Connor Williams to play middle, however Tampa might not view Deiter as an enchancment over Hainsey.

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