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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Bucs continue locking up young players- extend Hargreaves

Florida Football Insiders

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Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

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:

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.

The Bucs picking up that fifth year option means of Hargreaves’ price tag will be just over $14 million for 2020.

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.

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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Bucs WR Mike Evans still not practicing

Florida Football Insiders

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Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The Bucs were back on the practice field Wednesday morning getting ready for their third preseason game on Friday night with the Cleveland Browns at Raymond James Stadium. However, once again, they are without their top receiver, Mike Evans, who remains sidelined with an injury.

Buccaneers beat reporter for The Athletic, Greg Auman, tweeted that Evans was not out on the practice field during the portion that is open to the media:

Evans pulled up during a drill in Sunday’s practice and head coach Bruce Arians made mention of the injury on Monday:

“Mike tweaked yesterday…it’s nothing serious,” Arians told the media.

It is reportedly a leg injury to Evans’ quadriceps that is hampering him.

The Bucs are not required to talk about injuries, much less the severity of them, at this stage. And, it’s not believed that there will be any further updates on Evans this week.

However, it’s easy to conclude the Tampa Bay will not risk playing him in the third preseason game and is Auman tweeted, the starters never play in the fourth preseason game which will be next Thursday in Dallas.

So clearly, Tampa Bay is resting and rehabbing Evans for the season opener with the 49ers.

Evans, a Pro Bowl wide receiver from a year ago, is the top target of QB Jameis Winston. A year ago he caught for a career high 1,524 yards and also career high 17.7 avg with 8 TDs.

Evans had 86 receptions, which were the second most of his five year career, in 2018, and he’s one of three receivers in NFL history to have 1,000+ receiving yards in each of his first five seasons. Hall of Famer, Randy Moss and A.J. Green are the other two.

Evans previously dealt with a hamstring injury in the 2015 preseason and missed the season opener with Tennessee but returned the following week. However, he’s been very durable since then, playing in 47 of the 48 games the last three years, having missed only a 2017 game while suspended for his role in a fight against the Saints.

This info comes on Evans’ birthday, as he turns just 26 today.

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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Bucs RB Ronald Jones back at Tuesday practice

Florida Football Insiders

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Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Bucs fans can exhale on the knee injury for running back Ronald Jones, at least for now.

Jones was seen at the portion of practice open to the media Tuesday afternoon with his left knee heavily wrapped but, most importantly, participating in drills in full pads.

Tampa Bay radio host, J.P. Peterson, tweeted the video evidence here:

Jones had not practiced the last two days of Bucs training camp with what was described as a swollen knee suffered after playing in Friday night’s preseason game with the Dolphins.

As we wrote yesterday, coach Bruce Arians provided a brief update after practice into Jones’ situation,

“Ronald’s knee swelled up a little bit and just trying to take it day to day with him.”

Traditionally, the third preseason game is the final time, where starters for the regular season play significantly. The Bucs are set to host the Cleveland Browns Friday night at Raymond James Stadium.

When asked about Jones’ chances to play or whether the team would play it safe, Arians briefly said:

“We’ll see how it is. We still got a few more days. I think Ronald’s gonna be ok.”

Jones appeared to have suffered some kind of left knee hyper-extension returning the opening kickoff on a rain-slicked turf against the Friday night. That’s what can be seen this photo on social media from Tampa Bay sports reporter Kevin O’Donnell showing Jones knee clearly in an awkward spot when he planted:

Jones did carry the ball twice for 7 yards later in the first quarter of the game before being shut down for the night.

Jones has been one of the standouts of the Bucs offseason and training camp with glowing updates repeatedly from Arians about his progress and his chances of seeing significant playing time. He missed three games with a hamstring injury in a disappointing rookie year.

However, he is expected to challenge incumbent starter from last year Peyton Barber for playing time/carries, once the regular season gets underway in two weeks.

Another obvious point, if his knee was sprained or worse, the Bucs would not have had on the field in full uniform trying to run and cut, even at a reduced speed. So, that’s also a positive.

For now, we await Arians’ and the teams plans for using Jones, or not, against the Browns later today and tomorrow.

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