Tuesday, September 18, 2018
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Bucs’ Vernon Hargreaves faces surgery, likely done for season

TAMPA — Crunch time took on a new meaning for Vernon Hargreaves in the fourth quarter Sunday at New Orleans.

Trying to protect a 24-point lead, the Bucs defensive back extended an arm to swat away a pass to Saints running back Alvin Kamara on third down. Hargreaves landed awkwardly, and trainers took him immediately to the locker room to examine his left shoulder.

Wednesday, Hargreaves visited orthopedist Dr. James Andrews, who confirmed the worst: The shoulder would probably require surgery and his season appears to be over. The Bucs placed the former Gators and Wharton High standout on injured reserve.

"That hurt because Vern is my boy outside of football,'' cornerback Ryan Smith said. "Just seeing him go down, seeing anybody go down, it's not something you want to see. We got to pray for Vern. He'll be coming back strong, and we've just got to keep moving forward.''

Hargreaves, who missed seven games with a hamstring strain last season, eventually will see his shoulder heal. But the Bucs are about to have some severe growing pains at defensive back.

Starter Brent Grimes missed the first game with a groin strain and did not practice Wednesday. That means rookies Carlton Davis and M.J. Stewart are going to have to perform like veterans, starting with Sunday's game against the Eagles.

"Vern had really done a nice job all through training camp, all through preseason," coach Dirk Koetter said. "He made a beautiful play on the play he got injured on.

" I feel horrible for Vern because he didn't do anything to deserve this, but that's NFL football right now. … Every team is going to have (injuries) every week. It just means the next guy has to come up and be ready to go.

"In this case, we had to make a couple roster moves. We'll be getting Brent Grimes back soon, and the rookies, they'll be playing a bigger role.''

By losing Hargreaves, the Bucs essentially have to replace two players. He played right cornerback in the base 4-3 defense. But when the Bucs went to the sub package against three and four receivers, Hargreaves would move to the slot nickel defensive back position and Davis would take his spot outside.

A second-round draft pick out of Auburn, Davis had a difficult debut with the rest of the Bucs' secondary, which allowed Saints quarterback Drew Brees to pass for 439 yards and three touchdowns in Tampa Bay's 48-40 win. It included a 28-yard score to receiver Ted Ginn Jr. with Davis biting on an out-and-up route.

"It was a learning lesson going against a Hall of Fame quarterback,'' Davis said. "It's part of the game, though. We play in a tough division where there's a lot of good quarterbacks, so it's something that I'll be seeing often, and I think it's kind of good that I got to see it early because it kind of established whoever I'm going to be playing against. It gave me a good wake-up call.''

Alarm bells certainly rang for defensive coordinator Mike Smith, who knows the Bucs aren't going to win many games giving up 40 points.
But Smith always professes confidence in his replacements for Hargreaves and Grimes. Maybe it's because he's had enough practice doing it.

"Those young guys that we drafted in April, we knew that they were going to have to come in and contribute,'' Smith said. "Didn't think it would be Week 1 and Week 2. They're guys who have a good understanding of what needs to be done in the secondary.''

What may need to be done is to either play Stewart at nickel or move safety Justin Evans closer to the line of scrimmage and play rookie Jordan Whitehead at safety.

"We're going to have to have guys who are going to be cross-trained in the secondary," Smith said. "Our safeties at some point in time are going to be asked to play corner, and our corners are going to be asked to play safety. Both of them are going to have to play in the nickel spot.''

Then Smith decided to play a little defense for his rookies.

"I will state I thought our young guys, for the situation they were put into, handled it pretty well,'' he said.

Comments
Derrick Brooks among Hall of Famers threatening to boycott induction ceremonies

Derrick Brooks among Hall of Famers threatening to boycott induction ceremonies

Former Bucs linebacker Derrick Brooks is among several Pro Football Hall of Famers who signed a letter today saying they would not attend the Hall's annual induction ceremony until they receive health insurance and an annual salary that includes...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Say hello to Major Ryan Fitzpatrick, Bucs QB and Civil War pen pal

Say hello to Major Ryan Fitzpatrick, Bucs QB and Civil War pen pal

You’ve probably heard about the #FitzMagic phenomenon by now, but are you following Major Ryan Fitzpatrick’s dispatches from the front lines of the NFL circa 1862?Months before the Tampa Bay Buccaneers backup-turned-temporary (but also ma...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: What happens when Jameis Winston returns?

Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: What happens when Jameis Winston returns?

Who should start at quarterback for the Bucs in Week 4, when Jameis Winston returns from his three-game suspension?Head coach Dirk Koetter won't talk about it, while DeSean Jackson says, "you can't take the hot man out." But what might most impact th...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Bucs journal: Better QB protection result of training camp battles

Bucs journal: Better QB protection result of training camp battles

TAMPA— Bucs quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick is off to an incredibly hot start, and a big reason for it is the protection he is getting from the offensive line.Fitzpatrick has only been sacked twice in 61 pass attempts. According to coach Dirk Koet...
Published: 09/17/18
While others debate Winston or Fitzpatrick, the Bucs will answer this question

While others debate Winston or Fitzpatrick, the Bucs will answer this question

TAMPA — If there is a quarterback dilemma for the Bucs, it is this: When do they make the switch to Jameis Winston?Sure, Ryan Fitzpatrick is playing the best football of his life. He's 2-0 with consecutive games of at least 400 yards passing an...
Published: 09/17/18
When deciding whether to keep starting Ryan Fitzpatrick, throw out logic

When deciding whether to keep starting Ryan Fitzpatrick, throw out logic

TAMPA — Logic tells me that there is a wall out there with Ryan Fitzpatrick's name on it. That's his history. That's why he never became The Man on his previous zillion NFL teams. He's a reliever, a good one, but the longer you see his stuff, t...
Published: 09/17/18
Tampa Bay chefs get fresh platform at Bucs home games

Tampa Bay chefs get fresh platform at Bucs home games

TAMPA — It was almost like a sitcom spit take. People in Buccaneers-red and Eagles-midnight green would walk up to the makeshift kitchen in the West Stadium Club, look at the huge poster of chef/restaurateur John Rivers, then glance at the guy in the...
Published: 09/17/18
Buccaneers AfterMath: We have a quarterback controversy, Tampa Bay

Buccaneers AfterMath: We have a quarterback controversy, Tampa Bay

TAMPA — Jameis Winston isn’t here. Ryan Fitzpatrick is.And in place of the suspended Winston, Fitzpatrick passed for 402 yards and four touchdowns Sunday and led the Buccaneers to a stunning 27-21 upset over the defending Super Bowl champ...
Published: 09/17/18
Carson Wentz cleared to return for Eagles

Carson Wentz cleared to return for Eagles

PHILADELPHIA — He’s back. Carson Wentz has been cleared to return and is slated to start for the Philadelphia Eagles against Indianapolis in Week 3. "I was impressed with how well he attacked his rehab throughout the offseason," coach Doug Pederson s...
Published: 09/17/18
Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: Ryan Fitzpatrick leads Bucs to 2-0 start

Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: Ryan Fitzpatrick leads Bucs to 2-0 start

FitzMagic continues as Ryan Fitzpatrick leads the Bucs to their first 2-0 start since 2010, beating the defending Super Bowl champion Eagles, 27-21.Fitzpatrick throws for over 400 yards and four touchdowns for the second game in a row, while the...
Published: 09/17/18