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Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are “heartbroken” over the knee injury that is expected to keep Ryan Jensen out of the entire 2022 season.
Jensen, Tampa Bay’s starting center since 2018, was ejected after suffering a left knee injury during Thursday’s training camp practice.
It seems unlikely that Jensen will feature this year, although the door has yet to be closed on that possibility.
Speaking on Monday, Brady urged second-year professional Robert Hainsey to show he can be a capable assistant.
“He worked really hard,” Brady said, when Hainsey was mentioned. “Obviously everyone is heartbroken by what happened to Ryan so it will take a bit of time but ‘Hains’ needs to step up and do a great job.
“He worked hard last year, really earned a lot of people’s trust, and he has to go and earn it. Like all of us, it’s not how hard you worked in the offseason, it’s is how good a football player you are, and that has to be determined for all of us.”
Jensen hasn’t missed a game since signing with Tampa Bay in 2018 after a four-year stint with the Baltimore Ravens, and he was named to his first career Pro Bowl last season.
The 31-year-old re-signed with the Bucs in March on a three-year, $39 million deal that includes $23 million in guarantees.
The Buccaneers currently have no other players with starting experience at center. Hainsey, a 2021 third-round pick, saw just 31 offensive snaps as a rookie, going nine games last season without starting.
Superstar quarterback Brady, who has backtracked on his retirement plans, won’t let injuries affect the goal as the Bucs look to return to the Super Bowl after triumphing in the 2020 season.
“I don’t think there are any excuses,” Brady, 44, said. “Either you do the job or you don’t. There’s only one team that’s really happy at the end of the year and that’s the team that wins. So you have to get out there. next year and get you in position.
“We’re just going to do our best. There’s a lot of time. Nobody knows what the team will look like. You think you have a center and then he gets injured, so the team is different in a day.”