TAMPA ― The Bucs will have a punt returner Sunday at San Francisco, but it won’t be Jaelon Darden.
Tampa Bay on Tuesday waived the wide receiver/kick returner, who led the NFL in total punt returns (31) and punt-return yardage (330) while averaging 10.6 yards.
Darden, a fourth-round pick out of North Texas in 2021, never really contributed much on offense. He had only two catches for 26 yards this season.
The Bucs on Tuesday also released two players from their practice squad ― tackle Dylan Cook and defensive back Ryan Smith.
Tampa Bay was expected to bring back safety Nolan Turner to their practice squad after he cleared waivers.
Receiver Scotty Miller is listed as the Bucs’ backup punt returner. Rookie running back Rachaad White also has returned kickoffs this season.
In two seasons, Darden had only eight catches for 69 yards and two rushes for 23 yards.
The Bucs have other receivers they really like on their practice squad, including undrafted free agents Deven Thompkins and Kaylon Geiger. They also could promote Tyler Johnson from the practice squad.
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