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Bucs will know extent of Ryan Jensen’s knee injury this week

The center was hurt early in training camp and has been walking around in practice and at the preseason game with a leg brace.
Injured Bucs center Ryan Jensen arrives on the field before the start of Saturday's preseason game against the Dolphins.
Injured Bucs center Ryan Jensen arrives on the field before the start of Saturday's preseason game against the Dolphins. [ DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times ]
Published Aug. 14|Updated Aug. 14

TAMPA — Center Ryan Jensen, who was carted off the field with a left knee injury the first week of training camp, was on the sideline wearing a leg brace during the Bucs’ 26-24 preseason-opening loss to the Dolphins on Saturday night.

The Bucs have been tight-lipped about the nature of Jensen’s injury, including whether they believe he could return during the season.

It is clear the Bucs may elect to carry Jensen on the 53-man roster for a day before putting him on injured reserve so they could recall him later in the season.

Coach Todd Bowles said Sunday that the Bucs should know the full extent of Jensen’s injury this week and it could be season-ending.

Robert Hainsey, who is taking a turn under center while Ryan Jensen is out, stands with the injured Bucs veteran Saturday night.
Robert Hainsey, who is taking a turn under center while Ryan Jensen is out, stands with the injured Bucs veteran Saturday night. [ DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times ]

“He may or may not come back, if at all,” Bowles said. “Because we don’t have an answer, I haven’t given a comment. I wasn’t trying to be (vague) or anything. They just told me to wait for the swelling to go down because it can go one of two ways, and we’re just waiting for it.”

With Jensen out, second-year offensive lineman Robert Hainsey started at center and played 28 snaps Saturday. He was replaced by Nick Leverett, who also played left guard in the game. Aaron Stinnie started at right guard.

“We’re looking at them both,” Bowles said of Hainsey and Leverett. “Both did a half-decent job. Both of them have got things to work on. For the first game out for those guys starting and playing together, I thought they did a good job.”

The offensive line wasn’t the only position being closely evaluated Saturday.

Quarterback Kyle Trask entered the game in the second quarter and played about 80 percent of the snaps. The former Florida standout went 25 of 33 passing for 258 yards, with a touchdown and an interception.

Bucs quarterback Kyle Trask played most of Saturday night's preseason opener against Miami.
Bucs quarterback Kyle Trask played most of Saturday night's preseason opener against Miami. [ JEFFEREE WOO | Times ]

After converting on third and 22 late in the game, Trask got the Bucs within field-goal range. Jose Borregales’ 49-yard attempt for the win hit the right upright and was no good.

Trask, who hasn’t played a regular-season game, has made strides, but Blaine Gabbert remains the No. 2 quarterback. Bowles said it was good to finally see Trask, in his second season, perform in pressure situations since they “hadn’t seen him throw a touchdown in a preseason game to date other than practice.”

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“It was more about what kind of moxie he had on the field, the kind of control he had on the field, whether he would panic in situations,” Bowles said. “Was he able to do the right thing?

“And he passed a lot of those tests, so he’ll get more of it (this) week. I can’t say if it will be 80 or 75 (percent of the snaps) or whatever the case may be. But he’ll play a lot, and the development is important for him. He didn’t get as many snaps last year, so we really want to see what we have.

“I know what Blaine can (do), and I know what (quarterback Ryan Griffin) can do. I want to see what Kyle can do, and he’s going to get some time. He made some mistakes in the game, obviously, being the first time out, but I thought he handled a lot of situations well, so we’ll try to get more of that (this) week.”

The Bucs have joint practices with the Titans on Wednesday and Thursday, and play at Tennessee on Saturday.

Contact Rick Stroud at rstroud@tampabay.com. Follow @NFLSTROUD.

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