Highly-touted rookie Austin Seferian-Jenkins is looking to provide the Tampa Bay Buccaneers with instant returns. While it remains to be seen how much playing time the 6’5” first-year tight end will see, his size, strength and good hands will pose matchup nightmares for opposing defenses.
In last week’s loss to the Jaguars in the preseason opener, Seferian-Jenkins caught two passes for 29 yards and had a 48-yard catch and run called back because of a penalty. He was also whistled for two holding penalties.
Seferian-Jenkins, who has drawn comparisons to Rob Gronkowski, graded his performance harshly following the game.
"I didn't grade out good enough. I didn't play well enough, as you could see,” Seferian-Jenkins said on Buccaneers.com. “I had two holding calls, I didn't block well enough and I didn't run my routes well enough, so I didn't get enough of a satisfactory grade to my liking. I don't know what my grade was, but it wasn't good enough."
It’s clear that Seferian-Jenkins possesses the physical tools to excel in the NFL. How well he picks up the intricacies of the position and gets into the playbook will play a determining role in realizing his potential on the playing field.
“It's just technique," said Seferian-Jenkins. "It wasn't anything different, it was just my coaches telling me, Coach [Jon] Embree was telling me, 'It's going to be technique, technique.' Then you do the things in practice, you kind of get away with it and then it comes to a game and there's a flag or you didn't get open quick enough. Little things – the linebacker jumps the route and tips the ball just a bit because you didn't get outside on your right landmark. It's just the real small stuff and that's the biggest thing, it was the technique. Everybody is just really good with their technique.
"When you're in a game and things are going and you're thinking about just your assignment, sometimes you forget about your technique. I think that's what got me held up. In the first preseason game I was so worried about doing my assignment and making sure I won my rep, that I forgot about the small techniques that would help me win my rep and help me dominate that rep and not get a holding call or not get open enough."
While Seferian-Jenkins is his own toughest critic, he has caught the eye of the coaching staff during training camp.
"You have to let it play out, but for the ones who have been around here for training camp, just about every day he's done something that you like," said Lovie Smith. "You don't have to look real hard to like something the guy has done. So he's warranted more time, moving up through the ranks. He's got a great future ahead of him; it's as simple as that. He's got great size. He can still work on his blocking. He has actually hands. He's in our plans."
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