TAMPA — As 25 of the Bucs' established starters and key players watched Wednesday's preseason finale from a nice, dry luxury suite at Raymond James Stadium, tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins was on the field against the Redskins in a steady downpour, logging 56 plays against players most likely to be cut in the next few days.
So why exactly was Seferian-Jenkins playing, getting frustrated enough at one point to pull off his helmet and yell at the sideline on his way off the field? Was it a punitive measure? A not-exactly-subtle way to showcase his abilities for a trade?
Coach Dirk Koetter said Wednesday only that "he needed to get out there and play a long time," and a day later, he didn't want to elaborate.
"We just wanted to see him play more," Koetter said Thursday. "I don't really need to give you the reasons. We thought he needed to play more, and that's just what he did. We played him more."
Koetter also cited a shoulder injury to backup tight end Kivon Cartwright, but the Bucs dressed five tight ends Wednesday, and Seferian-Jenkins was on the field for 56 of 70 offensive plays. The other four tight ends combined to play 52 snaps. It wasn't that Seferian-Jenkins was particularly productive, either. Seven passes were thrown his way, resulting in two catches for 22 yards.
"The coaches told everyone who was suiting up to be prepared to play the full game, so I was definitely ready to play the full game," Seferian-Jenkins said in the locker room. "I was more than willing and able to play a full game, so I did."
When he came off the field yelling at the sideline, receiver Russell Shepard pushed him to the side to avoid further conflict.
"Sometimes I get emotional," Seferian-Jenkins said. "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."
After the game, Koetter explained Seferian-Jenkins' actions by saying, "We've got to remember, players play, and coaches coach." Asked again about it Thursday, he went into a bit of detail.
"I'd say frustration was the cause of that," Koetter said. "Any time you see situations like that, it's almost always caused by frustration, and (Wednesday) night was no exception."
There has been frustration between the two before. In the spring, Koetter saw enough of Seferian-Jenkins in a voluntary practice that he sent him off the field early. Early in the preseason, Seferian-Jenkins fell behind Cameron Brate on the depth chart and was working with the second-team offense.
In the past two weeks, Seferian-Jenkins had played well enough to split first-team reps with Brate.
Brate and fellow tight end Luke Stocker got Wednesday off with the starters, watching as Seferian-Jenkins played. One throw to Seferian-Jenkins was high and intercepted by the Redskins. He didn't have a catch until the final quarter of the preseason, a time normally reserved for backup players soon to be cut. That's an unlikely outcome for the 2014 second-round draft pick.
Contact Greg Auman at [email protected] and (813) 310-2690. Follow @gregauman.