TAMPA — Ryan Jensen won’t play for the Bucs this season.
It’s reasonable to believe his career may be in danger of ending as well.
Bucs general manager Jason Licht announced Saturday night that the team is placing Jensen on injured reserve, ending his season.
Jensen tore three knee ligaments during the second day of training camp in 2022. He opted not to have surgery and somehow made it back to play in the Bucs’ wild-card loss to the Dallas Cowboys.
Jensen began training camp this summer participating in some individual drills, but he had not practiced the past two weeks.
“It breaks my heart,” said Jensen after the Bucs beat the Ravens 26-20 Saturday, his voice breaking. “There’s nothing more I want to do then to be a part of this team. This organization has changed my life and unfortunately, my knee just wasn’t progressing in an upward, positive way.
“You know, I fought my butt off. I put more work in this offseason than I’ve done probably my entire career. It just wasn’t responding how it needed to respond to go out there and play at a high level. It sucks. But I know I’m going to be around this team and help out the young guys and mentor the guys on the line and do whatever I can do to be part of this team and help this team win football games.”
With the 32-year-old Jensen done, the Bucs will start Robert Hainsey at center again this season.
Jensen signed a three-year, $39 million extension before the 2022 season. He will earn $26.5 million of that contract, having played only in one playoff game.
He said that decision did not do any further damage to his knee and insisted all ligaments are intact. But there is some cartilage damage and deterioration in the lateral compartment of his left knee.
“I don’t think there was ever a setback,” Jensen said. “It was feeling good coming to camp … just through our plan we had going one day on and one day off, it was feeling pretty good the first couple days and then it started to get a little bit sore and painful in the lateral compartment.”
At the start of training camp, Jensen detailed his unconventional treatment that did not include surgery to repair the torn ligaments.
He said five doctors recommended reconstructive surgery as the only way to repair his knee. Instead, he underwent a procedure that included receiving stem cells cultivated from the umbilical cords donated from mothers who had cesarean sections.
“Looking back, I probably shouldn’t have played (in the wild-card loss),” Jensen said earlier this summer. “But at the same time, it was one of the ones where I wanted to go out there and help the team and be with my guys.”
Saturday wasn’t the first time Jensen’s teammates heard the news. “We’ve known for a while,” tackle Tristan Wirfs said. “He kind of made an announcement to us a week or two ago and we knew how much this means to him and (what) this game means to him. It’s obviously heartbreaking for him.”
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Licht said he and coach Todd Bowles had an emotional meeting with Jensen.
“We talked a couple weeks (ago) about this. It was an emotional moment for me and for Todd and for everybody when we met with him,’” Licht said. “But it’s for the best for him.”
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