Cameron Brate: We’ll definitely miss Rob Gronkowski this year

With Rob Gronkowski insisting he’s going to stay retired, the Buccaneers signed Kyle Rudolph to boost their tight ends room.

But they also still have veteran mainstay Cameron Brate on their roster as he enters his ninth season with the club.

On Wednesday, Brate said he learned a lot by watching him and not necessarily listening to him.

“He doesn’t always do a good job of explaining how he sees the game and stuff,” Brate said with a laugh in his press conference, “but I mean, he’s probably the best tight end to ever play. So, just seeing the way he went about his business every day, the kind of unique way he sees the game, definitely benefited me a ton.

“Obviously, I’m not the same player as Rob — people just bounce off of Rob. When I get hit, I get hit hard — it’s not the same for me. But, just being around him, trying to soak up as much as I could from his game, it was awesome, and we’ll definitely miss him this year. But I’ll try to teach some of these young guys some of the stuff I’ve picked up from him.”

But Brate’s playing time on offense went down with Gronkowski in tow. he was on the field for just 30 percent of the snaps when Gronkowski played every game in 2020. With Gronkowski out for several games last season, Brate’s snaps went up to 40 percent.

That figure should rise again in 2022.

“[Gronkowski’s] in there 90% of the time, so for me, I think that’s a little bit harder of a role — when you’re not playing all the time and you’re kind of just thrown out there on third down and got to beat man coverage and stuff,” Brate said. “After having that experience, now where I’ll probably be used more a little bit on early downs, I love that – kind of get into the rhythm of the game. [I’m] excited for that challenge and looking forward to it.”

Brate caught 30 passes for 245 yards with four touchdowns last season.