The Tampa Bay Buccaneers lost starting right guard Alex Cappa to injury while making a playoff run towards a Super Bowl LV win. Fortunately for them Aaron Stinnie stepped in beautifully and was able to help his squad in a moment many thought might have derailed their efforts altogether.
That’s how important the offensive line is. Five guys moving as one, sometimes six, to protect the most important player on the team. Even when it’s not Tom Brady, protecting the quarterback should be priority one for all NFL franchises.
So when the Bucs drafte Notre Dame’s Robert Hainsey in the third-round it was easy to see the value a back-up lineman can bring to a team looking to win another championship.
Hainsey’s NFL career hasn’t gotten off the ground smoothly however, as injury has prevented the rookie from practice and from the team’s first preseason game. Now, it’ll keep him from Tampa Bay’s second contest, this one against the Tennessee Titans.
“I’ve got my fingers crossed Hainsey will go next week,” Said Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians, speaking to media on Thursday. “I’m not going to push it to just find out, I know he can play. So, I just want to make sure he’s healthy and hopefully he can go next week.”
The good news is Hainsey returned to practice during the most valuable practice week of training camp. Of course, video of the rookie getting some practice reps in with Tom Brady on the sidelines last weekend have been making the rounds as well.
So you know Hainsey wants to get in on the action, we all want to see what he can do on the playing field of course, and his head coach is awaiting his debut as well.
This is about the future though. Current starting center Ryan Jensen is on the last year of his deal and after all the contracts worked by Jason Licht and his staff this offseason, there may not be much magic left to keep the veteran in pewter next year.
If that’s the case then getting Hainsey on the field as much as possible is extremely valuable. For 2021 though, having him healthy matters more, in case they end up with another need on the interior of their offensive line.