Coming into training camp, Cameron Brate and Austin Seferian-Jenkins were set to compete for the Buccaneers’ top tight end spot. Brate has been a hot topic of conversation early on in camp, and head coach Dirk Koetter said on Wednesday morning that he is currently at the top of the depth chart at tight end.
The speculation started earlier this offseason that Cameron Brate had a shot at the Buccaneers’ starting tight end spot over 2014 second-round pick Austin Seferian-Jenkins. This speculation gained even more steam when Seferian-Jenkins was kicked out of a mini camp practice by head coach Dirk Koetter before going after Bucs fans on Twitter. Brate has been getting consistent work early on in training camp, leading to Koetter’s statement that he is currently the top tight end on the depth chart.
Brate developed a nice connection with quarterback Jameis Winston last year, catching 23 passes for 288 yards and three touchdowns. He caught 14 passes for first downs, proving to be a good option for Winston along with the rest of his receiving corps. Brate saw a lot of time in 2015 partly due to an injury to Seferian-Jenkins, who played just seven games and caught 21 passes for 338 yards and four touchdowns.
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Koetter spoke highly of Brate after Wednesday’s practice, talking about his improvement in run blocking as well as his playmaking abilities so far in camp. His name has been in the mix a lot during 11-on-11 drills early on in camp, and his production is good news for a Bucs offense that is continuing to develop.
Seferian-Jenkins also spoke highly of his teammate, stating that if Brate is playing well, he will be happy because it works best for the Bucs. At the same time, he established that he believes in himself as a “great player” and reiterated that he is going to continue to work hard hard and get better. While this may technically be a setback, he took it in stride with maturity, which is a positive sign for the 23-year-old, especially after having some problems earlier this offseason.
The fact is, having both Brate and Seferian-Jenkins healthy and productive is what would be best for Tampa Bay this season. Both have a lot of talent, which is huge for the Bucs as it not only provides depth at tight end, but high-quality depth.
Although Brate is working with the ones in practice and likely as the preseason gets underway next Thursday, Seferian-Jenkins will get plenty of chances to prove that he is ready to step up and improve in his third year. This is a position battle to keep an eye on throughout the preseason because, while Brate will likely still be the top guy once the regular season rolls around, it will be no surprise to see Seferian-Jenkins push him for the spot.