Bucs’ Seferian-Jenkins is running on empty

by Gary Shelton on June 10, 2016 · 2 comments

in general, NFL, Tampa Bay Bucs

Seferian-Jenkins was more of a detriment than an asset in practice.

Seferian-Jenkins was more of a detriment than an asset in practice.

Friday, 6 a.m.

Hurt, confused and dismissed is no way to go through one's NFL career.

Just ask Austin Seferian-Jenkins, a Buc-for-the-moment.

Seferian-Jenkins was already on the thin limbs of his career. He was hurt to often, and his production wasn't in the same area code as his potential. Now, you can only wonder how long the Tampa Bay Bucs will put up with him.

Seferian-Jenkins was tossed out of Bucs' practice Thursday afternoon for not knowing what he was doing. Coach Dirk Koetter instructed him to run a down-and-out...of practice. You're in the way, partner. Go line up in the showers.

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Seferian-Jenkins has loads of potential, but he's missed too much time.

Seferian-Jenkins has loads of potential, but he's missed too much time.

Mind you, none of the Bucs' free agents were tossed. None of their rookies. Tight end Cameron Brate or Brandon Myers or Luke Stocker or Danny Vitale or Tevin Westbrook or Alan Cross were not tossed. In recent memory, no one has been.

Just Seferian-Jenkins, who supposedly has been around Koetter's offense long enough to know what's what if only he were paying attention. Koetter wouldn't recount their conversation, but it's safe to say that Seferian-Jenkins didn't get the day off because he had been so darned special.

Yet, Seferian-Jenkins was kind of shallow on explanations. He didn't say he was sorry. He didn't say he got confused in the heat. He just tweeted “when negative stuff happens, you just have to move on.”

That's the thing Seferian-Jenkins has to realize right about now. He's about a half-tick from moving on. Ask yourself this: Has Seferian-Jenkins done enough to convince you he deserves a new contract? Of course not. And the alternative of that is the Tryout Shuffle.

Look, it was going to be hard enough on Seferian-Jenkins as it was. He missed seven games as a rookie. He missed nine games last year.

What's the old saying? The best ability is availability.

The shame of it, of course, is that Seferian-Jenkins has enough potential to make an average player cry. Even now, you can imagine him splitting the seam, ruining an opposing secondary that can't figure out all of the weapons running at them. Quarterback Jameis Winston loves his tight ends.

For the Bucs, however, tight end has usually been a tease. It always sounded better than it has turned out to be.

In the early days, there was Jimmie Giles, a Ring of Honor player who made four Pro Bowls. But there hasn't been a Pro Bowler since. Dave Moore wasn't bad, and Jackie Harris had some moments.

But who else? Kellen Winslow was mostly a disappointment. Ron Hall was a pretty good player for some pretty bad teams. Jeremy Stevens married well, but he didn't do anything else.

Seferian-Jenkins was supposed to change all of that. He said the right things this off-season. He made you hope.

“It’s everything to me,” Seferian-Jenkins told the Tampa Bay Times recently. “This is my life,” said Seferian-Jenkins, 23. “I love football so much. I’ve played this game since I was in second grade, and there’s nothing more important to me than playing football. Fighting back and pushing through some serious injuries to be out there was all I cared about.”

This is not just a test for Seferian-Jenkins. It's also one, the first one, for Koetter as a head coach. This has been the Summer of Hyperbole around the Bucs. The defense is going to be the best in history. Mike Evans may be the best receiver in the league. And so on.

But this is the first speed bump for Koetter. He has to motivate and salvage Seferian-Jenkins. He has to help turn him into an essential player. He has to make him get it.

In a way, this is a test for Winston and his leadership, too. The Bucs didn't win enough games last year, and they didn't accomplish nearly enough of the details. But at least everyone seemed to be rowing.

Now, it is up to Winston (and others) to get into Seferian-Jenkins' ear. You're going to blow this, they need to say. You're going to lose. Either get with the program, you will be removed from it.

That's the deal with the NFL. Too many players don't catch on until they are told to go away.

If you are Seferian-Jenkins, the clock is ticking.

It's time to get serious.

Seferian-Jenkins  needs to take the game more seriously./JEFFREY S. KING

Seferian-Jenkins needs to take the game more seriously./JEFFREY S. KING

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