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No sweat: Bucs’ Ryan Jensen adapts to playing center Tom Brady’s way

Tampa Bay's starting center is getting used to playing with a towel in his pants to help Tom Brady throw a dry football.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers center Ryan Jensen (66), on right, prepares to bump fists with quarterback Tom Brady (12), on left behind other players, after drills on the field during Bucs training camp Monday.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers center Ryan Jensen (66), on right, prepares to bump fists with quarterback Tom Brady (12), on left behind other players, after drills on the field during Bucs training camp Monday. [ DIRK SHADD | Times ]
Published Aug. 19, 2020

TAMPA — Ryan Jensen knew where the conversation was heading. And Tom Brady had no problems getting to the butt of the matter.

Shortly after the Bucs signed Brady, Jensen received a text from general manager Jason Licht letting him know the quarterback would be reaching out to him.

When Brady called, after about five minutes of small talk, it didn’t take long for him to get down to business. The conversation turned to sweat, specifically his practice of keeping his starting center’s backside free of it during games by stuffing a towel down his pants and keeping it dry with a heavy dose of baby powder.

“He started talking about the sweat and what he’s had centers do in the past,” Jensen said. “I knew it was coming. I’d seen an article last year or so talking about just that so I knew that conversation was going to be had.”

Brady invited Jensen to join him at some workouts he was organizing at Berkeley Prep to get some snaps in. Jensen also received a demonstration in sweat mitigation, as Brady showed him how to fold the towel properly, put it down the back of his pants and douse it in baby powder.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady, left, talks with center Ryan Jensen as he and other Buccaneers work out May 19, 2020 at Berkeley Prep.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady, left, talks with center Ryan Jensen as he and other Buccaneers work out May 19, 2020 at Berkeley Prep. [ CHRIS URSO | Times ]

“Yeah, I’ve had a number of guys that could not stand to have sweat on the ball,” Bucs coach Bruce Arians said. “Tom’s got a very unique way with the towels and talcum powder. Ryan’s the center, so he’s buying in, and they kind of got that worked out over at Berkeley. And when we’re outside, it’s hard to keep them dry because that’s a lot of sweat going on.”

Even through his first few days in training camp as a Buc, it’s becoming clear it’s Brady’s way. And Jensen might be the best example.

He used to wear a glove on his right hand, the one he snaps the ball with. He no longer does so on Brady’s recommendation. Even though the Bucs practice early, beginning warmups at 8:30 a.m., it’s clear Brady is adjusting to Florida’s summer humidity, constantly toweling himself off between snaps.

You don’t win six Super Bowls without attention to detail, and it’s well known that Brady doesn’t like throwing a wet football and will take special measures to avoid it. That’s very clear watching him practice.

“Sooner or later, it’s gonna be a wet one and you’ve got to throw it and Tom gets (angry) if it’s not a spiral, so that’s gonna happen sometimes,” Arians said.

At one point during Tuesday’s sweltering practice, Brady did his own inspection of his sweat experiment, pulling the back waistband of Jensen’s pants and looking down.

“It’s an adjustment a little bit having a towel down the rear side, but if that’s what Tom wants and that’s going to help him be a better quarterback, I’m gonna do what I have to do,” Jensen said. “It’s been an easy adjustment. The first couple it was a little uncomfortable, but just like anything you get used to it.”

Jensen is still getting used to snapping without a glove, but aside from nicking up his knuckles, he’d found it to actually be more efficient.

Center Ryan Jensen of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during training camp on Monday.
Center Ryan Jensen of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during training camp on Monday. [ KYLE ZEDAKER | Tampa Bay Buccaneers ]

“That’s an easy adjustment,” Jensen said. “With all the humidity and stuff here not having a glove actually helped me control the ball a little bit more snapping. … Just busting the knuckles a little bit more. That’s the only thing that comes with that pretty much.”

Anything for the G.O.A.T.

“I just wasn’t sure what it would be like at first but, it’s a pretty easy transition,” Jensen said to the towel situation. “And now it’s just a couple extra things during practice I got to do, change out the towel, add a little bit more powder. It’s really not a burden at all for me.”

Contact Eduardo A. Encina at eencina@tampabay.com. Follow @EddieInTheYard.