Impressive Hargreaves has earned big role with the Bucs
Vernon Hargreaves spent a lot of time learning a new position this off-season, playing inside as a slot corner. Although he wasn't first on the rep chart, the Bucs' first-round pick most likely will be a starter on the depth chart by the time the regular season begins Sept. 11.
“He’s going to play,'' coach Dirk Koetter said Thursday as the team wrapped up its three-day mandatory minicamp. "The guy has made plays every single day. Vernon is the football player we thought when we drafted him. He’s goig to play. It will all fall in place. We're very confident Vernon can either play inside in the nickel or outside.''
Hargreaves had an interception late in practice Wednesday and knocked down passes in the end zone during a red zone drill Thursday. Although Alterraun Verner and Brent Grimes have been starting at cornerback wiith the first-team defense, Hargreaves has gotten many reps inside as the slot corner when teams go to three wide receivers.
The Bucs believe his athleticism and toughness will make him an asset playing a position similar to that of former Pro Bowl cornerback Ronde Barber.
"That's what football is, making plays,'' Hargreaves said. "When an opportunity comes my way, I’ve got to be ready. For the most part, I’ve been ready this minicamp.
“I’m fairly comfortable. Not all the way comfortable because I’m used to playing outside. It’s a new position. There’s new techniques and things I need to learn. It’s a learning process, but I’m enjoying it. The closer you are to the ball, the more times you can touch the ball. So I’m happy about moving inside, of course.''
Hargreaves said he has benefitted from playing alongside veteran Pro Bowl conrerbacks such as Grimes and Verner.
“It’s more than just being athletic. They’re extremely smart, they know what’s coming before it’s coming,'' Hargreaves said. "That’s why they are who they are. That’s why they’re Pro Bowlers. Just learning and you get some information every day, just staying in their ear and keep asking them questions, that’s how I learn the best and that’s why I keep bugging them.''