Tom Brady tells Hainsey to 'go earn' starting center role as Bucs are jolted by Jensen injury

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Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are "heartbroken" about the knee injury that looks set to keep Ryan Jensen out of the entire 2022 season.

Jensen, Tampa Bay's starting center since 2018, was carted off after suffering a left knee injury during Thursday's training camp practice.

It appears unlikely Jensen will feature this year, although the door has not been slammed shut on that possibility quite yet.

Speaking on Monday, Brady urged second-year pro Robert Hainsey to show he can be a capable deputy.

"He's worked really hard," said Brady, when Hainsey was mentioned. "Obviously everyone's heartbroken with what happened to Ryan, so that will take a little time, but 'Hains' has got to step into the job and do a great job.

"He's worked hard last year, really gained the trust of a lot of people, and he's got to go earn it. Like all of us, it's not how hard you worked in the off-season, it's how good a football player are you, and that's to be determined for all of us."

Jensen has not missed a game since signing with Tampa Bay in 2018 following a four-year stint with the Baltimore Ravens, and he was named to his first career Pro Bowl last season.

The 31-year-old re-signed with the Bucs in March on a three-year, $39million contract that includes $23m in guarantees.

The Buccaneers currently do not have any other players with starting experience at center. Hainsey, a 2021 third-round pick, saw just 31 offensive snaps as a rookie, featuring in nine games last season without making a start.

Superstar quarterback Brady, who backtracked on retirement plans, will not let injuries affect the objective as the Bucs look to get back to the Super Bowl, having triumphed in the 2020 season.

"I don't think there's any excuses," said 44-year-old Brady. "You either get the job done or you don't. There's only one team that's really happy at the end of the year and that's the team that wins. So you've got to come out the next year and put yourself into position.

"We're going to just do the best we can do. There's a lot of time. Nobody knows what the team's going to look like. You think you have a center and then he gets injured, so the team's different in one day."

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