The Buccaneers continue to remain committed to their young players, and on Wednesday night and the eve of the 2019 NFL Draft, they have extended the contract of their 2016 number one pick, Vernon Hargreaves.
The team announced the move on their website that Hargreaves fifth year option of his rookie contract would be picked up:
We have picked up CB Vernon Hargreaves' fifth-year option.
— Tampa Bay Buccaneers (@Buccaneers) April 25, 2019
Hargreaves struggled in his rookie season under new offensive coordinator Mike Smith’s scheme and was eventually demoted to playing slot corner. And, that meant not regularly chasing receivers downfield. The former Florida Gator star, had more inconsistent play and eventually, a hamstring injury that ended his 2017 season early.
Tampa Bay had high hopes for Hargraves is third year after a good training camp, but he was injured, again, in the opening game with the New Orleans Saints. Hargreaves eventually required surgery on his shoulder and missed the remainder of the regular season on injured reserve.
Needless to say, that resume is underwhelming and has many wondering, if Hargreaves wasn’t a mistake as a first-round pick?
He will now get an opportunity under a new coaching staff, including new defensive coordinator Todd Bowles. It is believed that he will run a much more aggressive scheme, including defensive backs playing more “press coverage” up on the line of scrimmage. It remains to be seen how well Hargraves will fit into and succeed in that kind of system.
Tampa Bay did the same thing with quarterback Jameis Winston and picking up his fifth year option for this season.
They continued their youth movement by giving new contracts last season to 2015 second round pick offensive lineman Ali Marpet. And his linemate and fellow second round pick from the same draft, Donovan Smith, cashed in with a huge new deal this past March to remain in Tampa Bay, also.
Bucs add LB White to crowded injury report Saturday
Even though the Bucs are favored to win in Detroit on Sunday, their injuries and the possible effect it will have on them in Sunday’s game are mounting up.
First, as we wrote Friday, the most prominent Buccaneer on the injury report, quarterback Jameis Winston, is expected to play with a slightly cracked bone in his throwing thumb. Tampa Bay head coach Bruce Arians told the media after Friday’s practice that Winston was able to throw in the practice and should be good to go.
Now, comes word on Saturday the Bucs star defensive rookie, Devin White, is added to the injury report with an unknown illness. The team officially listed him as questionable before traveling to Detroit.
White, who was the fifth overall pick in last year’s draft has been coming on the second half of the season putting together a 10 tackle, two sack game against Matt Ryan and the Falcons. And, a week later in the game against the Jaguars, he had an interception of Nick Foles and a fumble return for a touchdown both in the first quarter of Tampa Bay’s easy win.
If he cannot go, it is expected that veteran Kevin Minter will slide into White’s role alongside Pro Bowl veteran Lavonte David. Minter played for several games earlier this year, when White was out with a sprained knee ligament.
The Buccaneers will already also be without wide receiver Mike Evans, who suffered a hamstring injury on his 61-yard touchdown catch last week against the Colts. It is likely that Evans will be done for the season with the injury, but Tampa Bay did not place him on IR, yet, this week.
That means the Tampa Bay’s other top target, WR Chris Godwin, will be more heavily counted on against the Lions. Godwin is having a fantastic third season, where he has been in the top five all year long in receptions and yardage.
The Bucs have another serious concern with the status of left tackle Donovan Smith. He was injured in the second half of the Colts win Sunday, and has not practiced all week with what’s listed as a knee/ankle injury. Smith, who’s never missed a game since coming into the NFL in 2015 is listed as doubtful. If Smith cannot go, the Buccaneers will likely turn to veteran Josh Wells, who has played sparingly at both tackle spots this season.
Bucs QB Winston threw Friday- will play Sunday
After a week of debate, as to whether or not Buccaneers starting quarterback Jameis Winston would be able to play Sunday at Detroit, head coach Bruce Arians made it clear: he’s in.
— PewterReport (@PewterReport) December 13, 2019
“He’s fine. He’s ready to go,” Arians said in announcing that his QB will start against the lowly Lions.
Winston hurt the hand late in the second quarter of Sunday’s wild 38 – 35 comeback win over the Colts. When he came out for the second half, Winston had trouble gripping the ball and actually went in for an x-ray, while back up Ryan Griffin quarterbacked the team for a series.
Winston returned and went on the lead the Bucs to 17 points, including throwing the game-winning touchdown pass to Breshad Perriman in the final five minutes of the game, as Tampa Bay won for the third time in a row.
As we wrote on Thursday, Winston was seen throwing a tennis ball during the portion of practice open to media. This as part of simulating his throwing motion on reps with the receivers. It wasn’t known if Winston tried to throw at all Thursday in the closed portion of the practice.
Winston has been a lightning rod of both praise and criticism, as he currently leads the NFL with 23 interceptions, including three more Sunday. However, he is also second in the NFL in touchdown passes (26) and total passing yards going into play in week 15.
If Winston is bothered by the injured hand, then Griffin will be counted on to take over. He’s in his seventh season, but last week was his first regular season action of his career in Tampa Bay. Griffin has played well in each of the last two preseasons for the Buccaneers.
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