Shaq Mason: Angst About Starting An Inexperienced Center Is Overblown

July 30th, 2022

New Bucs guard Shaq Mason

After practice today, Joe caught up with starting guard Shaq Mason, a new 2022 arrival from the Patriots.

Shaq is one happy dude, telling Joe how much he loves the atmosphere at One Buc Palace and everything about his new team. Was Shaq implying that life is better and more fun outside the Belicheats? Joe can’t be sure, but that’s unimportant today.

What is important is all the change on the Bucs’ offensive line, and the fact a guy like second-year man Robert Hainsey, may make his first NFL start as the opening day center because Ryan Jensen blew out his knee.

Mason knows all about inexperienced linemen. As Joe explained earlier today, the Patriots started Mason as a rookie fourth-rounder in 2015, and the center and other guard were both rookies. And the center was undrafted!

Mason isn’t discounting Jensen’s special qualities, but he considers worry about Jensen’s replacement as overblown.

“I don’t think it’s as big of a deal as everybody’s making it. I mean, everyone was an inexperienced guy at some point,” Mason said. “It’s definitely not foreign territory for [Brady]. That’s why we practice, get everybody ready. Training camp just started.”

Mason said getting thrown in as a rookie with the mighty Patriots ramped up his development and it was the best thing for him, though it might not be for every player. Joe asked Mason if he remembers feeling 100 percent ready for his chance in 2015. “Absolutely,” Mason replied.

“Start fast. Stay fast. And, you know, sometimes you have to grow up early,” Mason said. He added that he would advise any young offensive lineman to just stay focused on his day-to-day work and talent and preparation will win out in the end.

“Block out the noise,” said Mason, which he added includes hype for big games on a high-profile team. “You can’t put your mind elsewhere because that’s when things can derail a little bit.”

For those concerned about Hainsey, if he starts, remember that he will have an entire training camp to prepare and be evaluated. And he’s a second-year guy, not a guy struggling to learn the playbook and find the cafeteria.

24 Responses to “Shaq Mason: Angst About Starting An Inexperienced Center Is Overblown”

  1. Tbbucs3 Says:

    Now thats a professional mentality! Refreshing to hear the players side of things instead of the dooms day mindset coming from the fans.

  2. DoooshLaRue Says:

    Oh my god…….. an actual voice of reason!

    Thanks Shaq, maybe this will help quell the ninnies on here.

  3. Casual Observer Says:

    Yes, good comments from the new guard. I think we’ll be OK – if no more big injuries happen.

  4. Steven007 Says:

    The advantage Hainsey seems to have is that he is by all accounts a very intelligent player. That counts on the offensive line. He also has an NFL body which he honed over the off season. Going way back, I can remember when Tim Ruddy took over at center for the dolphins after the retirement of the Great Dwight Stevenson. All of a sudden a young player is protecting Dan Marino. And Ruddy was a very solid center. All kinds of comparisons can be made. Most of us know that Brady has played not only with centers who were inexperienced and even free agents, but that line in New England changed on almost a yearly basis. Yes their o line coach was legendary, but our guys aren’t exactly chopped liver. Interesting to see how it all plays out.

  5. Joe in Michigan Says:

    AQ Shipley was a serviceable center the year that Jensen played guard for a game or 2. Shipley is helping train Hainsey. We’ll see, but I think it’ll be okay.

  6. Defense Rules Says:

    ‘And he’s a second-year guy, not a guy struggling to learn the playbook and find the cafeteria.’

    You mean like Luke Goedeke?

    Wasn’t it our own Shaq Mason who said “I don’t think it’s as big of a deal as everybody’s making it. I mean, everyone was an inexperienced guy at some point.” He’s spot on.

  7. BucsBro Says:

    I think Hainsey is the right guy at the right time, and is ready for his shot.

    That doesn’t mean there won’t be hiccups, and he’s not Jensen (probably just not physically at Jensen’s level at this point in time early in his career), but he seems very dedicated (went out to train with Shipley) and a student of the game.

    Some young guys are ready, some guys are not. I think Hainsey is ready.

  8. D-Rok Says:

    D-Rok Says:
    July 30th, 2022 at 9:50 am
    After listening to Hainsey’s presser, I am rather impressed with his demeanor as only a 2nd year player.

    He was mentored by AQ Shipley this offseason for 2 full months. He said AQ worked with him daily on technique, strength, and conditioning. AQ stated that Hainsey has the mentals of a 10-year vet but just needs reps.

    These reports give me more confidence that the sky is not falling and perhaps Hainsey can be a decent replacement for Jensen.

    Let’s see what the next 3-6 weeks brings and re-visit (re-worry?) about the center position. Bucs will be fine.

    GO BUCS!!!

  9. GOB Says:

    Hainsey is no scrub. He was the #1 guard recruit in the nation, coming out of highschool. He played center at the senior bowl, and impressed all the coaches. He loves football and his work ethic is A++. He’s very bright, so no worries about him getting confused with protection calls. His versatility is the reason he was drafted. I expected him to be gone after round two. The only drawback to his game that I see, is his lack of athleticism. That can be overcome with smarts and work.

    Jensen’s loss is bad, certainly from a continuity standpoint. But, it’s far from insurmountable.

  10. shak_bucs Says:

    Nick Leverett had a wonderful presser yesterday! I hope everyone sees it, beautiful words from him. I think we will be fine with him or Hainsey getting the spot, bowles made sure to say the competition is between the two, not yet won.

  11. PassingThru Says:

    The coaching staff will know more next week after the players put the pads on. Right now, they cannot express any reservations about Hainsey or when they expect Jensen to return. The last thing they need is to create demand for JC Tretter.

  12. Goatfarmer Says:

    Good points all. The thing that can’t be measured, though, is Jensen’s leadership. That aspect is an unrecoverable loss.

  13. Kody Says:

    Umm… sorry, dude, but losing Jensen is a big deal. It’s a HUGE deal. We saw that briefly last year. Guys like Jensen, Marpet and Gronk are irreplaceable in the short term. The loss of those three guys will be a huge factor this season.

  14. BradyBucs Says:



    How often are Centers drafted in the first round?

    When has a Center been drafted in the Top 10 overall picks?

    Every position on the field is important, but Center has been highly overvalued because of Jensen’s popularity. Center is much more easily replaced that either Tackle position.

    The Center and one of the guards often double team someone in the middle. RBs often help out on blocking any interior blitzes.

    There many NFL teams with high production that don’t have Pro Bowl centers.

    Bucs fans, and Joe, need to stop freaking out over this. We have a couple capable guys that will have a nice camp battle to win the starting job and that winner will be fine. These are PROFESSIONALS for a reason, not guys that never played football before.

  15. Rod Munch Says:

    Licht has an incredible record of success at drafting offensive lineman — it doesn’t mean they all hit, but until they prove otherwise you should expect success. In this case, Licht took a tackle and moved him to center based off some practices, so he saw something. Also the Bucs were clearly not resigning Jensen if Brady didn’t unretire – not a knock against Jensen, he was just expensive and the Bucs felt like they had their next guy already. So, let’s hope the Bucs were right on this one.

  16. BradyBucs Says:

    Good point, Rod, the Bucs were ready to move on without Jensen.

  17. GOB Says:

    Kody, if Brady wasn’t the QB, it would be a bigger deal. He sets his own protections. So long as Hainsey doesn’t fall on his face, they’ll be just fine. They have the rest of camp to get him ready. Hainsey isn’t Brian Stork. I find it kind of laughable that people think the season is lost over a center, especially with Brady running the entire offense from stem to stern.

  18. Allbuccedup Says:

    A lot of people fail to forget not only a new center but a new left guard. Its got to be in the back of Toms mind.

  19. geno711 Says:

    I am one of those people failing to forget.

    I remember there are changes at more positions than just center.

  20. steele Says:

    Everyone in the org is going to express total optimism regardless. Everything is fine, no problem, we’re working, it doesn’t matter etc. You’re not going to get an objective take from a teammate. And as PassingThru pointed out, they have to try to downplay in order not to create even more of a market for JC Tretter. (But that wont’ work, the market for Tretter is already hot. Many teams need him and are probably working on the financing as you read this.)

    If the Bucs were what the Bengals were, or what the Seahawks are now, in the beginning of a total rebuild youth movement mode, with a 3 yr time frame, absolutely leave Hainsey and Stinnie out there and just see what happens for a whole season, and fix it again next offseason if necessary.

    But this is TB12’s curtain call, the END of something, that requires veteran stability at every position, and minimal danger and minimal effort for him. I can’t remember when Brady ever had it as easy as Elway and Manning retirement teams with the Donks. Perhaps the early Pats teams still stocked with Bill Parcells talent but not since. How can he feel great having to handle line calls on top of everything else, and still worry about the danger right in front of him, where he hates it the most? Losing Jensen is worse than losing Gronk, JPP or Suh.

    Bottom line, they need insurance, even if Hainsey is coming along.

  21. Eddie Marz Says:

    Cmon dudes Mason is 100 % correct. We’re not starting 10 men, we’ll have someone under center who can block. If there’s any silver lining, is that it happened early in camp. Lots of time to prepare.GOBUCS!

  22. steele Says:

    As others have pointed out in a previous post, the issue with Tretter is that Cleveland’s blocking scheme is different. He’d have to adjust. Luke Juriga is an interesting but lower key option who the Bucs are familiar with. Someone like Juriga would be more of insurance policy rotational vs. a starter like Tretter.

  23. Goatfarmer Says:

    Tretter will be a Buc 2 weeks from now unless Jensen’s not as bad as everyone thinks. It would be stupid to accept the suddenly thin OL depth with the injury bug floating above the Bucs like a MRSA cloud. There are no more degrees of freedom, no margin for error. Go get a guy that’s proven and get him in so he can learn the system.

    I trust JL knows all this and is waiting for Tretter’s agent to stop asking for Jensen’s contract.

  24. Wild Bill Says:

    Jensen was an animal but he also drew too many penalties with his temper. Hainsy is smart and will grow into the job. But the first few games good be rough. Hope Brady’s elderly knees survive the first 4 games. Hainsy could be ready by then. Hopefully.