TAMPA, Fla. -- Tampa Bay Buccaneers tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins hauled in a huge catch over the middle in traffic during Tuesday’s training camp practice and flashed a big smile. Exactly two months ago today, on the final day of OTAs, he was booted from practice because head coach Dirk Koetter said, “He didn’t know what he was doing.”
The Bucs' starting tight end last year said it was exactly what he needed at the time. “[Coach Koetter] won't settle for me being average or good. He won't even settle for me being great. He wants me to be special,” Seferian-Jenkins said after Tuesday’s practice, the final open practice before the Bucs head to Philadelphia for their first game of the preseason. “I really thank God every single day he kicked me out of practice. It was really a wake-up call.”
While Seferian-Jenkins was all smiles and very chatty after practice, he hasn't been that way all of training camp, and questions lingered about his status with the team. When the Bucs released the first unofficial depth chart of the preseason, it was Cameron Brate, not ASJ, whose name was at the top.
“It is what it should be right now. Whatever it is, the coaches know it. I’m a player, the coaches coach," Seferian-Jenkins said. "I don’t care what the depth chart is. I don’t care what I’m on. I’m going to enjoy it and I’m going to seize every opportunity that I get, because that’s the most important thing."
The last two practices, Seferian-Jenkins made some noticeable catches in traffic. But he also had a drop in the red zone Tuesday that drew the ire of some fans who, like many, had hoped this could be the tight end's breakout year. He's been on the brink the last two seasons, but injuries, penalties, some technique issues and questionable decisions -- paying homage to Captain Morgan in a touchdown celebration and posting it on Instagram during his rookie season, and arguing with fans on Twitter after he was booted from practice -- have held him back.
He called those events learning lessons and said his focus right now isn't on negativity, but on incremental improvement.
"Every single day since Day 1, to Day 2, to Day 3, to Day 4, to Day 5, to Day 6, to Day 7 to Day 8, whatever day it is now, I've gotten better," he said.
You could see that with his monster catch over the middle.
"I just told Mike [Glennon] just, basically, 'This D-end is going to cover me. Throw the ball to me. I'm peaking. I'm gonna outrun this guy,'" he laughed. "[I said], 'Mike, you do what you do, which is play quarterback, and you throw the ball great. Just put it over that guy and I'll finish it."
As for his relationship with Koetter, Seferian-Jenkins said it was all water under the bridge.
"I love Coach Koetter," he said. "I love all our coaches, I love my teammates, I love the competition that we’ve got in the tight end room, I love the competition that the D-ends are bringing. It’s just been great all the way around, and I’m really, like I said, seizing the opportunities and I’m loving just being out here and playing football.”