TAMPA — Rookie cornerback Jamel Dean had his first NFL touchdown gift wrapped for him.
Dolphins quarterback Josh Rosen looked left and lofted a throw right at Dean, who had nothing but green between him and the end zone. But the wet ball slipped through his hands.
Dean didn’t play in the preseason opener against the Steelers a week earlier because of a hamstring injury, so Friday was his first opportunity to show what he could do in a game. And that dropped interception was a lost opportunity.
The third-round draft pick found redemption in the fourth quarter, picking off Jake Rudock in the end zone.
“When the ball was in the air, I was just like, ‘I cannot drop this one,’ ” Dean said.
Dean paid the price for the drop.
“We told him to switch gloves at halftime because those gloves weren’t any good,” Arians said. “And he came up with a huge one.”
“We kind of messed with him about the dropped pick,” rookie linebacker Devin White said. "And (Arians) said, ‘Hey, that’s okay, he’s going to make up for it.’ ”
Dean’s interception is the Bucs’ only one in two preseason games.
The Bucs followed it by driving 80 yards for their only touchdown and a 13-6 lead.
“It felt like a weight off my shoulders because I really beat myself up on the sideline knowing that I dropped something,” Dean said.
Contact Eduardo A. Encina at email@example.com. Follow @EddieInTheYard.