Thursday, December 14, 2017
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Vernon Hargreaves picks off Jaguars twice

JACKSONVILLE — Bucs rookie CB Vernon Hargreaves made the first splash play of his young career Saturday night in a preseason game, intercepting a pass late in the first half to set up a go-ahead field goal as the Bucs took a 17-14 halftime lead against the Jaguars.

He then repeated the feat early in the second half of Tampa Bay's 27-21 victory.

In the first half, Hargreaves picked off backup QB Chad Henne, and the rookie's return, combined with a half-the-distance facemask penalty against Jacksonville, set the Bucs up at the 9-yard line. Mike Glennon missed on one pass and fellow rookie Roberto Aguayo came in for a 28-yard field goal and the lead.

Hargreaves, the Bucs' first-round pick and a former star at Wharton and Florida, didn't see significant action in the first half but came in when the Bucs went to their second-string defense. It was the second interception of the preseason for the Bucs; the other was also from a rookie in safety Isaiah Johnson.

Early in the second half Hargreaves picked off Henne again, stepping in front of a ball intended for WR Bryan Walters.

Still wobbly: After a shaky debut with a missed extra point last week, Aguayo missed two field goals Saturday, a 32-yarder on the opening drive and a 49-yarder in the second half. Aguayo, perfect on kicks inside the 40 at Florida State, has missed twice inside of 35 for the Bucs.

He was good on three extra points and on field goals of 28 and 34 yards, and there are no other kickers on the roster, so his job is safe. But in missing two of his first four kicks, Aguayo has added more scrutiny to the Bucs' decision to give up a fourth-round pick to move up 15 spots to draft him.

Sitting out: Pro Bowl players Gerald McCoy and Doug Martin were held out from the game, as was LB Daryl Smith. Martin (rib) practiced all week; McCoy had a minor ankle injury in Thursday's practice. Smith didn't participate in either joint practice with the Jaguars last week.

Back and forth: The competition for the starting center job continued as Evan Smith started rather than Joe Hawley, who started last year and in last week's preseason opener. Hawley took over when Glennon entered in the second quarter, along with backup RT Gosder Cherilus. The rest of the second-team line came in on the following drive.

Running better: After totaling 31 yards on 21 carries last week, the Bucs doubled that in the first quarter alone, totaling 64 yards on 17 carries against the Jaguars. Mike James had a touchdown catch and rushed six times for 17 yards, all in the first half. Rookie Peyton Barber led with 11 carries for 40 yards on a night when the team had 158 yards rushing on 44 attempts.

This and that: With Daryl Smith out, the start at strongside linebacker when to second-year pro Josh Keyes rather than rookie Devante Bond. … Tampa Bay had seven first downs in the first half on Jaguars penalties, including two in the red zone on its second touchdown drive. … TE Cameron Brate took a hit to the back of his head in the end zone, drawing a personal foul penalty. He did not return in the first half after the injury.

Contact Greg Auman at [email protected] and at (813) 310-2690. Follow @gregauman.

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