A surprising name emerged on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers injury report on Thursday ahead of Super Bowl LV.
The Bucs limited tight end Cameron Brate in practice on Thursday due to back problems, but the team called it a precaution per NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport on Good Morning Football. Brate is expected to still play in the Super Bowl per Rapoport, and the Bucs have another highly-capable tight end in four-time All-Pro Rob Gronkowski if Brate unexpectedly couldn’t play.
The Tampa Bay Timers reported the Brate’s back issue is unspecified.
Rapoport described it as back discomfort for Brate.
Brate had been practicing all week per Pro Football Talk’s Josh Alper. The former Harvard standout has 11 catches for 149 yards and a touchdown in the playoffs, coming off a productive regular season as one of the Bucs’ main tight ends.
Brate’s Bigger Role
He took on a bigger role due to the season-ending injury to tight end O.J. Howard. Brate caught 28 passes for 282 yards and two touchdowns in the regular season.
Gronkowski, who primarily blocks, caught the lion’s share of passes for the tight end group in the regular season. He had 45 catches for 623 yards and seven touchdowns in his first season with the team. He joined the Bucs in 2020 after coming out of retirement and via a trade with the New England Patriots.
A playoff veteran from his New England days, Gronkowski focused more on blocking in the NFC playoff run with just two catches for 43 yards. Brate caught a touchdown in the NFC Championship game at Green Bay for a 28-10 lead in the Bucs’ 31-26 victory to advance to the Super Bowl.
A seven-year Bucs veteran, Brate described what it’s been like having Gronkowski join the tight end group during Tuesday’s media session. Brate said Gronkowski is “a joy to be around” per NESN’s Zack Cox.
Brate said he followed Gronkowski and the Patriots for years according to the Boston Herald’s Karen Guregian.
“Gronk was a player I looked up to a lot when I was at college, being up there in New England. A guy that could do everything really well,” Brate said on Tuesday per Guregian. “He has confirmed that this year. Just watching him, and picking up things he does well. He’s a great player, but he also brings a lot to the locker room and the tight end room as well. He’s just a fun guy to be around, and I’m super thankful and happy we brought him to Tampa.”
Brate owned a Gronkowski Patriots jersey but donated before the season according to the Wall Street Journal’s Andrew Beaton.
Brate on Brady
Following Gronkowski in New England means that Brate followed quarterback Tom Brady’s career, too.
Brate described this season as a “wild ride” with Brady and Gronkowski joining the Bucs per Buccaneers.com’s Scott Smith.
Where Brate would land on the depth chart upon Gronkowski’s arrival didn’t remain a concern for Brate very long as Brady reached out to him shortly after the Gronkowski trade according to Smith.