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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Ryan Jensen Heart-Broken By Move to IR, Plans to Help Team

Pro Bowl center Ryan Jensen will not play in 2023 due to cartilage issues in his injured knee but he plans to help his fellow linemen anyway he can and to 'fight his butt off' to get back on the field


While 89 of his Tampa Bay Buccaneers teammates fought to secure their spots on the team's 2023 regular-season roster on Saturday night, Ryan Jensen knew his season was done.

The Buccaneers defeated the Baltimore Ravens, 26-20, on Saturday in their final tuneup before the league-wide roster cuts next Tuesday and the start of the regular season. Early in the third quarter of that contest, General Manager Jason Licht revealed in the television broadcast that Jensen, the team's Pro Bowl center and offensive tone-setter, would soon be placed on injured reserve. It was a tough pill to swallow for Jensen and the team.

"It breaks my heart," said Jensen after the game. "There's nothing I want to do more than be a part of this team. This organization has changed my life. Unfortunately my knee just wasn't progressing in an upward, positive way. I fought my butt off. I put more work in this offseason than I probably have in my entire career and it just wasn't responding how I needed it to respond for me to go out there and play at a high level."

Jensen sustained a serious injury on the second day of training camp a year ago, including complete tears of his MCL and PCL ligaments and a partial tear of his ACL. He missed the entire 2022 regular season before playing in the Bucs' playoff game against Dallas, then started training camp on a day-on, day-off schedule he believed would lead him back to full-speed action. Unfortunately, he did not get the necessary progress in the lateral compartment, which is on the outside of the knee and was the main question mark after the initial injury. Jensen said that his MCL, PCL and ACL are all now healed and intact.

"When I first got hurt, after my first imaging, the biggest concern was that lateral compartment with the cartilage damage and stuff that happened on that side of the knee," he said. "Everything else pretty much healed how we expected it to heal. All the ligaments are fine and intact; it's just that lateral compartment is kind of deteriorating a little bit. Now it's just managing that and figuring out how to make it feel better."

The Buccaneers did not place Jensen on the active/physically unable to perform list to start training camp, an indication that there was optimism he would steadily progress towards rejoining the starting lineup. The early results in training camp were positive but Head Coach Todd Bowles said it was eventually clear the knee was not responding as hoped.

"The more he did on it, the worse it got," said Bowles. "We did everything we can to get him ready, he did everything he could to get ready. It wasn't responding and at this point in time, after further evaluation from the doctors we decided to put him on IR."

Jensen went through a grueling process over the course of the past year, and during the 2022 season, trying to return from his injury. He chose a non-surgical approach that apparently worked in all aspects apart from the cartilage damage in the lateral compartment, and he says there is no surgery at this point that would help the situation. All of that rehab work kept him away from his teammates for much of last season, but now he plans to maintain a presence at team headquarters that will help his squad as much as possible.

"I know I want to be around this team and help out the young guys and mentor the guys on the line and do whatever I can do to be a part of this team and helps this team win football games," said Jensen.

As for his future in football, Jensen simply said: "I'm going to fight my butt off and try to do whatever I can to play football again and give it my best shot."

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