Not exactly by design, but currently, your No. 1 Bucs tight end is veteran Cam Brate.
Almost from the start of Brate’s career, it seems as if the Bucs have been trying to replace him. Even after pulling in eight touchdowns in 2016, the Bucs went out and drafted flop O.J. Howard the following spring.
Fast forward to 2020 and it was starting to become clear that Howard was the proverbial all-potential/little production guy, so the Bucs went out and signed future Hall of Fame tight end, foot-rubbing Rob Gronkowski.
Gronk (maybe?) retired this summer. And guess who is still here? That would be Brate.
Brate, as Joe is typing this, is the Bucs’ No. 1 tight end. Kyle Rudolph is still learning the offense, rookie Cade Otten is too, along with recovering from offseason foot surgery. So, by hook, crook, perseverance and talent, it’s Brate’s job now.
“The last couple of years behind ‘Gronk,’ you know, he’s a guy that can do everything. He’s in there 90 percent of the time, so for me, I think that’s a little bit harder of a role – when you’re not playing all the time and you’re kind of just thrown out there on third down and got to beat man coverage and stuff.
“After having that experience, now where I’ll probably be used more a little bit on early downs, I love that – kind of get into the rhythm of the game. [I’m] excited for that challenge and looking forward to it.”
It’s interesting to Joe that Brate would mention the “rhythm of the game” — that he feels more comfortable getting more snaps on first down as opposed to mostly being used as a passing down specialist.
Joe suspects that as Otton progresses he’ll get more snaps. And of course, the quicker Rudolph becomes familiar with the offense, his snaps will increase as well.
The fact that Brate, either by design or happenstance, often seemed to fight for a spot on the roster yet he’s now entering his ninth season with the Bucs says a lot about the Naperville, Ill. native.
This content was originally published here.