TAMPA ― The Bucs may be facing a dilemma about how they plan to start Monday night’s game against the Cowboys on offense. Namely, do they have a healthy center to snap the ball to quarterback Tom Brady?
Starter Robert Hainsey has been limited with a hamstring strain he suffered last week in a loss at Atlanta. On Friday, backup Nick Leverett — who typically starts at left guard ― missed practice with leg/shoulder injuries. Veteran Ryan Jensen (knee) remains on injured reserve and has not been activated to the roster, even though he has been practicing for two weeks.
Brady was asked specifically how important the center position is to his success since the players work so closely together.
“Very,” Brady said Friday. “It’s a very important position. There’s a part of that that is very nice to know exactly what you’re dealing with. Sometimes it’s new, and every position deals with it. But quarterback and center is naturally unique.
“I’m sure if you’re one safety on the back end and another safety you’ve played with all year is out, the calls are a little different, the communication is a little different. I’m sure it’s the same way with the D-line if you’ve been playing next to a guy. So, that’s the way it is with the quarterback, too.”
That’s why football is the ultimate team sport, Brady said.
“You’ve got to have a lot of guys come through when guys get banged up and injured. Knocked out,” he said. “Hopefully, we’ll see who exactly is ready to go Monday night.”
Outside of the center position, the Bucs are about as healthy as they’ve been at any point this season. Hainsey; defensive tackle Vita Vea (calf); cornerback Carlton Davis (shoulder); receiver Julio Jones (knee); linebacker Carl Nassib (pectoral); tackle Donovan Smith (foot); and safeties Mike Edwards (hip), Keanu Neal (hip) and Logan Ryan (knee) all were practicing in some capacity this week.
“I think you’d like to play these (playoff) games as healthy as possible,” Brady said. “It’s hard to say after 17 games, you never know how it’s going to play out. There’s years when I’ve been a part it where we were very healthy and other years where we haven’t. We obviously feel pretty good about where we’re at, so that’s good.”
Brady likes how he looks in creamsicle
Earlier this week, Brady posted a picture of himself on Instagram wearing a throwback Bucs creamsicle jersey, No. 12, of course.
The Bucs plan to bring back the throwback uniforms next season.
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Count Brady among those who would not mind wearing one.
“Pretty sweet,” he said. “We’ve got a picture of Ronde (Barber) in the hallway where I am, and it looks pretty good. Mine was a gift from (former Bucs quarterback) Doug Williams. I love it. It was a great-looking jersey.”
The Bucs will look pretty whole in the back end on defense against the Cowboys.
Cornerbacks Davis and Jamel Dean; and safeties Ryan, Edwards and Neal all are healthy for one of the first times all season.
“It’s going to be nice,” said safety Antoine Winfield Jr., who has had his own share of injuries this season. “This season, we had a lot of ups and downs. A lot of moving pieces, so it’s going to be really good to have them back.”
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