Bucs CB Vernon Hargreaves III - Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
Given the matchup and environment last Sunday, Bucs coach Dirk Koetter was pleased with Vernon Hargreaves III performance in his first NFL game.
Defensive coordinator Mike Smith was even more enthusiastic about the rookie’s debut.
“Vernon, out of any rookie player, probably had the toughest draw in the NFL this week,” Smith said. “And he played every snap in the ball game for us, both inside and outside. It says a lot about his football knowledge and his football intelligence.
“Although it wasn’t perfect, I think Vernon is going to be a very, very good player in the National Football League.”
Both coaches – and even Hargreaves – admitted that a few plays got passed the 21-year old corner in Atlanta, but against Julio Jones in a loud dome, that’s expected and acceptable.
It’s also life in the NFL, which won’t get much easier this Sunday in Arizona.
While Larry Fitzgerald, who caught two touchdowns in last week’s 23-21 loss to the Patriots, isn’t in the prime of his career like Jones, the 6-foot-3 slot receiver still poses a major threat to any defense across from him, particularly the cornerback.
Hargreaves will get his chances against Fitzgerald, a future Hall of Famer. It’s an opportunity that any young cornerback would embrace and the former Gator is no exception.
“Everybody knows about Larry,” Hargreaves said at his locker Wednesday. “You don’t have to talk about it. For me, it’s exciting. I get to play against Larry Fitzgerald. Not everyone gets to say that. I have to go compete, give him a hard time and we’ll see what happens.”
Save for a couple first-game mistakes in Atlanta, competing and giving receivers a hard time is what Hargreaves did against Jones and Mohammed Sanu in Week 1. He played every defensive snap, as Smith noted, and that’s exactly the way Hargreaves wants it.
“That’s what is expected of me and that’s what I expect of myself,” Hargreaves said. “I wouldn’t want it any other way. I’m getting better, and we’ll see where it goes from here.”
The first-game jitters are gone, Hargreaves said, and the biggest lesson he took from Week 1 is to “play the whole 60 minutes and stay with your teammates.” As far as his coach’s assessment, Smith learned that Hargreaves has a short memory. Along with being knowledgeable for a rookie, he’s able to recover from mistakes and move on to the next play. Which is a must for an NFL cornerback.
“You have to have that mentality,” Smith said. “He had a couple of really good plays in the ball game because he has a short memory. As a corner in the NFL, you have to have it because everyone can identify what is probably going on out on the outside. Not necessarily what’s happening on the inside.”
Zach is entering his 3rd year covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as a writer for PewterReport.com. Since 2014, he's handled a large part of the beat reporting responsibilities at PR, attending all media gatherings and publishing and promoting content daily. Zach is a native of Sarasota, FL, and a graduate of the University of Tampa. He has also covered high school football for the Tampa Tribune and the NFL for Pro Player Insiders.
Contact him at: [email protected]
We must have the pass rush or Palmer will eat us alive. Go Bucs!
Palmer is inconsistent and really struggles with pressure. Let’s hope the D line is ready to go! We also need a good running game. Go Buc’s!
Hargraves needs to watch Grimes in practice. Grimes was outstanding last week. The sacks will come with better coverage. The secondary is looking up, but Banks and Vernon need to step it up also. He is a rookie, let the vets step it up. That means McDougal and Conte too.
Palmer seems a little shaky when rushed.
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