By Nick Shook
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It’s been a rough preseason for Austin Seferian-Jenkins.
Selected in the second round of the 2014 draft, the big tight end looked to be the next athletic pass-catcher to create matchup headaches for opposing defenses. Two disappointing, injury-riddled seasons later, Seferian-Jenkins finds himself stuck behind Cameron Brate and Luke Stocker on new head coach Dirk Koetter’s depth chart.
The relationship between the two hit a snag during OTAs, when Koetter sent Seferian-Jenkins off the field because as Koetter said, Seferian-Jenkins “didn’t know what he was doing.”
Wednesday, the frustration boiled over during a rain-soaked, sloppy 20-13 loss to the Washington Redskins. Seferian-Jenkins could be seen arguing with Koetter on the sideline and had to be separated by receiver Russell Shepard.
“We’ve got to remember that players play, coaches coach,” Koetter said of the altercation.
Seferian-Jenkins played in all four quarters of the contest, catching two of seven targets for 22 yards. It would be understandable if at least some of his frustration originated in the fact he was playing in the fourth quarter of the fourth preseason game. But according to Koetter, it was necessary.
“Austin needed to play,” Koetter said. “He needed to play. He needed to get out there and play a long time. We’re not playing particularly well with anybody, so we wanted to get him some reps.”
A third tight end could be considered expendable on some rosters. But even with the struggles and issues Seferian-Jenkins has faced, that isn’t the case for him. Koetter added that an injury to rookie tight end Keivon Cartwright resulted in Seferian-Jenkins playing more than initially intended, though it wasn’t a bad thing. He stopped short of saying Seferian-Jenkins’ roster spot was safe, but his tone didn’t sound as if it were in jeopardy.
“Frustration was the cause of that,” Koetter added in speaking to reporters on a conference call Thursday. “That kind of stuff happens in every game.”
Seferian-Jenkins admitted after the game that he got caught up in the moment.
“Sometimes I get emotional,” Seferian-Jenkins said, per the Tampa Bay Times. “I let my emotions get the best of me. I love my coaches. Coaches love me. We definitely talked and it was what it was. We came right over and talked again and it was good. … Coach is cool, no issue.”
Either way, it would greatly benefit Seferian-Jenkins and his future in Tampa Bay is he can turn Year 3 into a productive one. He has two teammates to usurp first, but 17 weeks is plenty of time to do that.