TAMPA — Bucs tight end Cameron Brate's numbers are down this year, and it's clear that his role in the team's offense has diminished because of the emergence of second-year tight end O.J. Howard as well as a bevy of wide receiver options that make it difficult to spread the ball around.
But Wednesday, Bucs coach Dirk Koetter said that Brate has been dealing with an undisclosed injury since the beginning of the season, adding that it has played a factor in Brate's pedestrian numbers this season.
"Cam has been playing hurt all year," Koetter said. "He hasn't been healthy from Day 1. He's done an unbelievable job of fighting through it. He;s another guy who if you knew the amount of rehab Cam does on a daily basis just to be able to play, it's pretty remarkable that he's been able to play at all."
Koetter wouldn't reveal any more information about the nature of Brate's injury or whether it will require surgery after the season is over.
"There will probably be more information on that after the season is over," Koetter said. "But I think Cam, when he gets healthy again, will return to form very quickly."
Brate hasn't been listed on any recent injury reports, which is an indication that it hasn't hindered his ability to be a full participant in practice.
Last offseason, Brate signed a six-year, $40.8 million extension with the Bucs that included $18 million guaranteed, the most to a tight end.
After averaging 52 catches, 625 yards and seven touchdowns from 2016-17, Brate enters Sunday's season finale against Atlanta with just 28 catches for 250 yards and six touchdowns. He hasn't logged more than three catches or 36 receiving yards in a single game.
Brate didn't have a catch in the Bucs' first two games of the season and posted just 17 receiving yards over the past two games combined.
Contact Eduardo A. Encina at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @EddieInTheYard.