One of the biggest enigmas on the Bucs roster is tightend Austin Sefarian-Jenkins. The former Huskie and 2nd round pick for the Bucs has shown flashes of brilliant talent but has struggled to stay on the field for much of his first two seasons as a Buccaneer. He was impressive in the season opener against Tennessee, but was injured the following week against the Saints and missed nine games. On Thursday, tightends coach Jon Embree talked about Sefarian-Jenkins and what he needs to do this year to break out.
“Hopefully he can stay healthy and show everyone what he’s capable of. I feel bad for him because it means a lot to him. It’s important to him. He works. He’s done a lot this offseason to continue to improve. ”
Embree also discussed the popular opinion among fans that ASJ is soft, and should have toughed it out through his shoulder injury last season.
“He was in a situation where he really was getting close and really working hard to come back and just wasn’t able to quite get cleared. When you start talking about some of the issues with the shoulder and with range of motion and really being able to go out there and protect yourself, it’s just hard to have someone go out there and take a chance of maybe ending their career.”
Sefarian-Jenkins was clearly tentative after his return from injury last season. He seemed to go up for passes halfheartedly at times which resulted in several missed opportunities. But Embree’s words should make it clear that Sefarian-Jenkins wasn’t even close to 100% healthy, and wasn’t able to brace himself for hits or be overly physical in general. Embree also mentioned range of motion being an issue, which means that ASJ’s catch radius was severely limited.
Health truly appears to be the only thing holding back the immensely talented Sefarian-Jenkins, just as it was the only thing holding back his tightend counterparts Jordan Reed and Tyler Eifert before last season. As his coaches and teammates have said before, Sefarian-Jenkins is a rare tightend that can contribute both from a run blocking perspective and a pass catching perspective, and because of this combination he’s an exciting prospect for the Buccaneers, and should be for fans too.