It appears Tampa Bay Buccaneers tight end Cameron Brate became nostalgic when invited to warm up with the quarterbacks while on the Active/Physically Unable to Perform list when training camp started.
“You could say I’m a quarterback. Someone’s gotta be the emergency quarterback, so I was trying to put my hand in that,” Brate jokingly said in Wednesday’s press conference. “I don’t think they’ll actually let me do it, but I showed coach Clyde (Christensen) I got some abilities. I was a quarterback in the eighth grade when we went 1-7, and I didn’t play the game we won, but I still got a good arm. I pitched in high school.”
Fortunately, the Bucs already have four quarterbacks on the roster and have Brate back at tight end after coming off the Active/Physically Unable to Perform List on Monday. He went on the PUP list right before training camp along with three other players on July 24 — Chris Wilcox, Justin Watson, and John Franklin. The nature of Brate’s injury was not disclosed according to Pro Football Talk’s Myles Simmons.
Brate said “it felt great to be back out there” on Wednesday after practice.
“It wasn’t fun watching, but seeing Tom (Brady), I was able to see things I normally wouldn’t see if I was practicing and man we’ve got some good players – it’s fun watching these guys practice,” Brate added.
Brate’s return aids the passing game, which featured tight ends at times last season. Bucs tight ends caught 11 touchdowns in the regular season last year.
The former undrafted free agent from Harvard made an impact for the Bucs in 2020 after tight end O.J. Howard went down with a season-ending injury. Brate caught 28 passes for 282 yards and two touchdowns. In the postseason, he had 14, receptions, 175 yards, and a touchdown.
While Brate returned to practice, he may not play in Saturday’s preseason game against the Cincinnati Bengals according to Buccaneers.com’s Scott Smith.
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Brate Helps Tight End Depth
Brate will now compete with Howard for snaps behind starter Rob Gronkowski, who had 45 receptions, 623 yards, and seven touchdowns in 2020. Backup tight end Tanner Hudson took most of the reps in place of Brate at camp per Sports Illustrated’s All Bucs. Hudson played as the Bucs third tight end last season after Howard went down, and the former Division II Southern Arkansas standout nearly caught a touchdown from quarterback Tom Brady in the Super Bowl.
The Bucs came into this year’s camp with concerns about tight end depth according to Greg Auman of The Athletic. He wrote that Brate going on the PUP list may have been a precaution “not to overwork anyone.”
Auman also noted that the Bucs signed tight end De’Quan Hampton that day. Tight ends Codey McElroy and Jerrell Adams have also been competing for the Bucs at camp.
Brate’s Rise From Being Undrafted
Brate enters his eighth season amid his rise from undrafted free agent to being a go-to player for Brady, which included a touchdown in the NFC Championship Game. It became arguably the biggest play of Brate’s career.
The veteran tight began in obscurity with little action in his rookie season, 2014, as he caught one pass for 17 yards. He collected 23 receptions for 288 yards and three touchdowns in 2015, and his production rose to 57 catches, 660 yards, and eight touchdowns in 2016.
Brate remained a steady factor in the passing game for 2017 and beyond. He had 48 catches for 591 yards and six touchdowns in 2017, and he matched that touchdown total again in 2018 despite 30 receptions for 289 yards.
In Bucs head coach Bruce Arians’ first year at the helm in 2019, Brate caught 36 passes for 311 yards and four touchdowns.