To say Austin Seferian-Jenkins' young NFL career has been littered with adversity would be putting it lightly. During his first two seasons in the NFL, he proved to be a productive starting tight end, but injuries prevented him from playing a full season.
Entering his third year in the league, the former second-round pick finds himself as the No. 2 tight end on the Bucs' depth chart behind Cameron Brate, a former undrafted player who was released at the start of 2015 but performed well after being re-signed. Seferian-Jenkins' demotion was strictly performance-based; Brate had been the better player through the first two weeks of camp.
"Training camp you get here the first week and sometimes you're rusty," Seferian-Jenkins said on Monday while meeting with reporters. "I was rusty and I wasn't doing things the way they asked me to do it, and that's what happens. If you don't do it the way coaches ask you to do something and someone else does it the way it's supposed to be done, that's just natural life."
But since that first depth chart was released about two weeks ago, Seferian-Jenkins has turned a corner. He has been impressive during training camp practices and led the Bucs in receptions in their second preseason game against Jacksonville. While the result on the field has changed, Seferian-Jenkins said his approach hasn't. He credits persistence for his resurgence over the past few weeks.
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"I've just been doing what I've been supposed to be doing since I got here in training camp," Seferian-Jenkins said. "And I've been working hard and like [Head] Coach [Dirk] Koetter says, if you are put down on the depth chart, all you can ask from players, not just myself but the whole entire room, is to get better. And that is to perfect your craft, get detail oriented and do what the coaches ask you to do.
"Nothing's changed on my end. I'm working hard, I'm doing what I'm supposed to do and it just happens that it's just showing up. Nothing's really changed on my end, I'm really excited to just keep working."
The Buccaneers have released just one depth chart this offseason and it's expected that changes will be made before Week 1 of the regular season. Seferian-Jenkins has two preseason games remaining, along with a handful of training camp practices, to re-gain the starting position. If the past few weeks are any indication, he's on his way.