Four-game suspensions rarely come at a good time, but for Bucs cornerback Jude Adjei-Barimah, the timing wasn’t terrible.
Bucs coach Dirk Koetter revealed on Monday that Adjei-Barimah suffered an undisclosed injury in Kansas City, one that coincided with his four-game suspension for a banned substance, therefore flying completely under the radar from a media standpoint.
Bucs CB Jude Adjei-Barimah – Photo by: Getty Images
Adjei-Barimah, who started the first 10 games of the season as the Bucs starting nickel back, was back in the building Monday after a difficult four weeks not being with his teammates or training at “his second home,” One Buc Place.
“It’s extremely tough,” the second-year pro said of serving a suspension. “We prepare so hard every year to come in here and play 16 games. To have an unfortunate situation happen, where I miss four games, not only is it bad for me individually but also the team. It’s not a position you want to be in as an individual or as a teammate. But you just have to put stuff like this behind you, move forward and try to do the best you can.”
He may have moved forward now that the suspension is over, but Adjei-Barimah said he researched the banned substance to get to the “bottom of what happened.” He explained what he could, legally, for what led to the league’s decision.
“I took a natural product that was contaminated,” Adjei-Barimah said. “Legally, right now, that’s all I’m able to tell you. Once I find out more as things move I’ll be able to say more, but right now, that’s what happened. It’s an unfortunate situation, but at the same time the league is real strict with the rules and that’s just how it works.”
Before his suspension, Adjei-Barimah recorded 22 tackles and two sacks in the Bucs nickel package. Once the suspension commenced, the Bucs moved starting cornerback Vernon Hargreaves inside for the occasional nickel formation and brought Alterraun Verner in to play on the outside. After a strong start against the Saints in Week 12 (two pass breakups and an INT), Verner struggled the following week and was benched in favor of Javien Elliott in San Diego.
CB Vernon Hargreaves and Javien Elliott – Photo by: Mark Lomgolio/PR
The undrafted rookie from Florida State has four tackles over the last two games, and Adjei-Barimah is proud of his teammate’s progression.
“He’s playing amazing,” Adjei-Barimah said. “From the first day he got here, I told him, ‘There’s going to be a time in the season when your number is going to be called,’ and if you’re ready it’s a great opportunity. Watching him develop from the time he got here, and now watching him make plays – it’s awesome.”
As far as his own next opportunity, Adjei-Barimah said it’s up to the doctors and trainers to determine when he can return, though Koetter didn’t sound too optimistic on Monday. For now, the former undrafted pro is just happy to be welcomed into the facility.