The final 12 months and a half have led to this second for Bucs heart Robert Hainsey.
The 2021 third-round select of Notre Dame spent his rookie season dealing with a studying curve. Transitioning from deal with to heart on the NFL stage doesn’t occur over evening. And as new because it was to be a backup for the primary time, he mentioned after Friday’s observe that it ready him nicely.
“There’s issues you may and can’t management. [Being a backup] was one factor that I couldn’t management,” Hainsey mentioned. “All I might management was how I got here out daily, ready to enhance and get higher and assist the crew. I believed I did all the pieces I might to do this. With the way in which issues have been final 12 months, I don’t assume I’d actually change something. I feel it led me to the place I’m now: ready, prepared, comfy and in a great spot.”
It’s factor that Hainsey feels ready and prepared, as he’s the favourite to interchange injured Professional Bowl heart Ryan Jensen. Jensen suffered a knee harm throughout Thursday’s observe, and Bucs head coach Todd Bowles mentioned Friday they know he’ll miss vital time.
Bowles mentioned Hainsey and Nick Leverett will compete for the vacated heart spot.
“Each of them have performed it,” he mentioned Friday. “It’ll be a tricky battle stepping into. Each are very good, each are very powerful. So, [it’s] higher [for the injury] to occur now than the center of the season so these guys can get some observe reps and put together for it. I feel both of them will probably be high quality.”
Changing A Professional Bowl Middle
Shedding a participant — and a presence — like Jensen is a blow for Tampa Bay. But when the Bucs are going to achieve the heights they seem destined for in 2022, they’ll want somebody to step up. Whether or not it’s Hainsey or Leverett who wins that beginning heart job, they’ll be seen as Jensen’s substitute. However each gamers know they will’t take a look at it like that.
“I’m not Ryan Jensen and that’s not who I’m attempting to be,” Hainsey mentioned Friday. “I’ve to be myself. However that chip on his shoulder that he performs with, if I’m on the market, I feel I wish to have a bit little bit of that myself as a result of I owe that to him. And whoever’s on the market owes that to him, to proceed that presence of the kind of man and the kind of participant he’s on the sector.”
Leverett mentioned Friday that it’s at all times exhausting to see a teammate go down, and that it’s even more durable to see when it’s somebody like Jensen.
“He’s my function mannequin. He’s a fantastic chief, and he’s a man that I really look as much as,” Leverett mentioned.
Whereas Jensen’s nasty enjoying type will probably be lacking from the sector for some time, his presence within the locker room and on the sideline can nonetheless be vital for an offensive line filled with younger faces.
“I wish to be there for him in all the pieces. I do know he’s going to be there for me and I do know he’s gonna assist me, Nick and everybody else,” Hainsey mentioned. “He’s going to deliver us alongside as a result of whoever is in there, there can’t be any drop-off. That’s a top-one, top-two heart within the NFL, so large sneakers to fill. However [it’s] a possibility nonetheless to the place somebody has to step up and do this.”
How A Former Buc Acquired Hainsey Extra Ready Than Ever
It wasn’t simply his function as an understudy in 2021 that has Hainsey feeling extra comfy and assured in himself as a middle. He spent this offseason with eight-year NFL veteran A.Q. Shipley, who most not too long ago performed in 2020 with the Bucs earlier than engaged on the crew’s teaching workers. After working with Shipley a lot through the common season final 12 months, Hainsey mentioned he jumped on the probability to work with him extra within the offseason.
“Working with A.Q., spending my time on the market with him, him and I targeted a ton on all the pieces that I’d must be prepared for regardless of the alternative could also be,” Hainsey mentioned. “So, I’m very comfy and ready and prepared.”
Hainsey went to Arizona to work out with Shipley earlier than OTAs and mini-camp, then returned out west once more between mini-camp and the beginning of coaching camp. The 2 labored out at Shipley’s health club, in addition to native highschool fields and parks. With the 2 spending a lot time collectively, Shipley even had Hainsey over for dinner together with his household. The second-year heart got here away from the expertise larger, stronger and extra ready for the brand new season.
“The work was excellent. He’s extremely educated about soccer. He’s extremely educated about power and conditioning, which lots of people most likely don’t know,” Hainsey mentioned. “He had a plan each single day for me. Day-after-day we’d are available, there was one thing new he wished to work on, a weak point of mine he wished to appropriate. So, that’s sort of the kind of man he’s. He does all the pieces 100%. It was an excellent expertise for me to be on the market with him.”
Mentally and bodily, Hainsey seems able to rise to the event. He’s even labored on towel placement and holding himself dry, as Tom Brady likes his facilities to do. Shipley was amongst those that taught him the methods of inserting and altering the towel in his pants, one thing he’s loads completely satisfied to do for his quarterback.
“It’s a very powerful factor to do on a day-to-day foundation. You guys see me on the market. How usually am I altering that factor, six occasions?” Hainsey mentioned. “So, yeah I’ve to do it and it’s what it’s. It’s no matter [Tom] desires, so that you make it occur.”