Bucs TE Brate Ready To (Re)Assume Mentor Role

The Bucs’ tight finish room is in a novel spot. O.J. Howard left to signal with Buffalo in free company, whereas Rob Gronkowski continues to be undecided about his future.

That leaves veteran Cameron Brate because the elder statesman of the group. The longtime Buc is joined by Codey McElroy, in addition to rookies Cade Otton, Ko Kieft, J.J. Howland and Ben Beise. This isn’t the primary time Brate has been the oldest man within the room, which he talked about on Tuesday after the crew’s first OTA observe.

“It’s undoubtedly a distinct perspective. You understand, I’ve form of been on this spot earlier than. Earlier than Gronk got here, I used to be the outdated man within the tight finish room for a few years,” Brate mentioned. “Then, Gronk got here and he was like ‘Grandpa Gronk.’ Now, I’m again in that position.”

After all, there’s nonetheless an opportunity “Grandpa Gronk” returns for one more yr with Tampa Bay. However within the occasion that he doesn’t, the Bucs should transfer ahead with a younger crop of tight ends — and Brate. Coming into his ninth NFL season, the person who ranks No. 3 on the franchise’s all-time receiving touchdowns checklist should assume a much bigger management position.

Brate, Howland Share Comparable Tales

Constructing relationships with new teammates is a part of the explanation why being current for optionally available OTAs is so worthwhile. Brate mentioned he spoke with Howland, an undrafted free agent out of Yale who made the crew as a tryout participant, on Tuesday. And he’s already thrown some banter the rookie’s approach.

Bucs TE J.J. Howland – Photograph by: Cliff Welch/PR

After studying from the media that Howland wore his No. 84 throughout final week’s tryout, Brate joked that the 2 should talk about the matter. The previous Harvard man additionally made a dig on the rookie’s Ivy League college.

“He wore 84? Gonna have to speak to him about that,” Brate mentioned with fun. “(He) made a pair psychological errors in conferences at present and I bought on him about that. You understand, Yale, clearly (a) secondary college to Harvard.”

Joking apart, Brate famous how cool of a narrative Howland has. It’s similar to his personal journey to the NFL. Each gamers went from undrafted free brokers out of Ivy League colleges to creating Tampa Bay’s roster via tryouts.

“He’s child,” Brate mentioned. “I’ll be there to mentor him to one of the best of my skill.”

Brate Seems For Kieft To Be His ‘Protector’

Brate and Kieft, the crew’s sixth-round decide, are lower from totally different cloths. The previous has made his cash within the NFL as a pass-catching tight finish, whereas the latter totaled simply 12 catches in 5 years at Minnesota. Kieft is a mauler whose worth clearly comes as a blocking tight finish.

Brate mentioned Tuesday that Kieft’s angle and talent set might make him complement to the tight finish group. He even likened him to former Bucs teammate Luke Stocker.

“I noticed him at observe at present and yeah, we’re undoubtedly totally different gamers, me and Ko,” Brate mentioned. “You’ll be able to form of inform he’s bought just a little edge to him. I actually like having guys like that within the room. Luke Stocker was form of like my protector when it was me and Luke on the sector collectively again within the day. So, I’m form of hoping Ko is that man for me.”

That intense angle of Kieft’s was already on show through the first day of OTAs. And that gave Brate an opportunity to step in and supply the veteran knowledge and management the newcomers will probably be needing as they transition into the NFL.

“He let a ball get away from him and it regarded like he was simply gonna blow a gasket. I used to be like ‘Hey, Ko, man, it’s the primary observe, all proper? It’s gonna occur,’” Brate mentioned. “You’ll be able to inform he loves soccer and he’s undoubtedly gonna be man to have within the locker room.”