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With Ryan Jensen out until November or December, Bucs turn to Robert Hainsey, Nick Leveret

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When the pirates are in the middle –Ryan Jensen became the first significant casualty of the NFL camp in 2022, names of potential replacements began to be suggested. The Bucks, who won’t bring Jensen back until November or December (if at all), intend to go with the next player for now.

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First, they must find out who it will be.

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“It will be between [Robert] Heinsey and Nick Leverett right now,” coach Todd Bowles told reporters on Friday. “They both played it. It will be an uphill battle. They are both very smart, both very cool. Better to do it now than in the middle of the season so these guys can practice and prepare. I think any of them will be fine.”

Bowles acknowledged that the team had at least discussed the possibility of finding someone not currently on the list.

“There were discussions, but not heavy discussions,” Bowles said. “We’ll see what’s out there and see what suits us. If we need to invite someone, we will do it.”

Bowles then praised Heinsey. third round pick in 2021.

“His research on cinema is outstanding,” Bowles said. “He was a tough guy. He’s from Notre Dame, he’s very smart, he can see the defense and that’s how he can help the quarterback. He can help the offensive line. He is diligent in it and wants to be good. Not a day goes by that he doesn’t come and watch the recording. So you just have to put it on tape and get a chance to play it.”

Heinsey (on the right in the attached photo) had little work at center as a rookie.

“I think I played in four games last year,” Hainsey told reporters. “One in preseason and four at the end of the season. You know, everyone was better, to be honest. First was Miami and I remember Blaine rocking too [Gabbert] way to say, “Communicate more.” And then the next one was better and a little better and a little better. Obviously it wasn’t as strong as I would like to play, but the fact that I notice myself improving still makes a huge difference in how I feel when I get on the field at any time. So having said that and feeling how I feel during this summer and the start of camp, I feel, as I said, prepared and ready.”

Leverett (pictured left) joined the team in 2020 as an undrafted free agent. He acknowledged that his opponent for the spot improved a lot during his time in the NFL.

“Essentially,” Leverett told reporters. “The guy is so smart. This is what brings us together, because we are deeply immersed in our game, we go to it. We compete well with each other to make each other better. This is the guy I saw when he first got here. Just to see the level of growth he had is insane. Honestly, he’s one of the smartest guys in the room, if not the smartest.”

This all sounds great, but here’s the inevitable reality. If the Buccaneers had so much faith in Heinsey and Leverett at center, why didn’t they let Jensen accept the Bengals’ three-year, $39 million offer in March?

The simple answer is probably that the protector Tom Brady, who will soon be 45, preferred that the 23-year-old player did not give him the ball. Now, if Brady doesn’t decide he needs someone else (and his preference will certainly be a big factor in the final decision), he will.



Source: profootballtalk.nbcsports.com

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