In what is a very important third season for former Bucs #1 pick Vernon Hargreaves, there is already a setback. This after Hargreaves injured his groin on the first series of Thursday night’s preseason opener in Miami.
Tampa Bay Times Buccaneers beat writer Rick Stroud had the information first:
In a best case scenario, the #Bucs are hopeful CB Vernon Hargreaves will miss 2-3 weeks with a groin strain he suffered in Thursday's game vs Miami. It's a setback but maybe not that serious. It's a setback because Hargreaves was playing well.
— Rick Stroud (@NFLSTROUD) August 10, 2018
We have well documented Hargreaves struggles in downfield one on one coverage and that has been demoted to a “slot corner” covering a third receiver inside a lot of last season. Hargreaves missed the end of last season with a hamstring injury putting his short term future in more question.
Then, Bucs GM Jason Licht and scouting staff pulled the trigger on two defensive backs in the second round of April’s draft in M.J. Stewart of North Carolina and Carlton Davis of Auburn. Both of those players have been seeing some time with the first unit reps in training camp.
And both played significantly in the game with the Dolphins. Davis, who’s a 6’3 bigger bodied corner, had five tackles and a spectacular leaping pass breakup in the game.
So, clearly, the pressure is being applied for playing time.
Back to Hargreaves. On Thursday night’s opening season and with veteran former Pro Bowler Brent Grimes not dressing, the Bucs were using him on the outside against the Dolphins starters, and that’s when the strain occurred.
Late Friday afternoon, Bucs head coach Dirk Koetter elaborated on Hargreaves’ injury:
Tune in to head coach Dirk Koetter's press conference! https://t.co/HJwaZkYU3A
— Tampa Bay Buccaneers (@Buccaneers) August 10, 2018
Koetter believes that Hargreaves will be ready to go by the end of preseason.
This by no means is the end, as Hargreaves is still signed for 2019 and especially in an NFC South division with the likes of Drew Brees, Cam Newton and Matt Ryan throwing all the time, you cannot have enough experienced defensive backs.
The hope for defensive coordinator Mike Smith and the team as a whole, is that he rests, rehabs and is ready for the opener against the Saints in the Superdome. Then, with Grimes presumably healthy and Stewart and Davis sure to see more playing time the next three preseason games, the Bucs will have good depth in the defensive backfield.
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