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Well, Bucs rookie return man Jaelon Darden better be ready to go the distance. On Tuesday evening, Jaydon Mickens was signed off the Bucs practice squad to the Jaguars active roster. The Athletic’s Greg Auman first reported the news, adding that the Bucs are re-signing wide receiver John Hurst to the practice squad. Hurst had been released to make room for Breshad Perriman’s signing two weeks ago.

The Jaguars lost Jamal Agnew to a hip injury this week, so they were in the market for a returner. Mickens played in Jacksonville from 2017-2018, scoring a punt return touchdown in his first season. The diminutive return man wasn’t flashy for the Bucs, but did an excellent job during the team’s Super Bowl run. Mickens didn’t fumble or muff a single kickoff or punt last season.

The veteran was on a similar path this season, but Tampa Bay had other ideas. After Mickens handled the return duties admirably over the first five games of the year, the Bucs turned to Darden. Seeking to get the rookie integrated, Mickens was released before returning to the practice squad. One of the most popular players in the Bucs locker room, Mickens now heads a few hours north.

On Tuesday, Bruce Arians said Scotty Miller will serve as the backup return man. Miller was activated from injured reserve and should be ready to play against Indianapolis in Week 12.

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About the Author: Jon Ledyard

Jon Ledyard is PewterReport.com's newest Bucs beat writer and has experience covering the Pittsburgh Steelers as a beat writer and analyzing the NFL Draft for several draft websites, including The Draft Network. Follow Ledyard on Twitter at @LedyardNFLDraft
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Captain Sly
Captain Sly(@captain-sly)
13 days ago

Jon, Mickens offered No Juice. He was a fair catch Charlie with legal issues. Hard Pass! I totally get why the FO made this move and gambled on Darden who offers way more upside. Its a low risk high reward strategy and they’ve got some cache; Shaq Barrett, Antonio Brown, Leonard Fournette, Rob Gronkowski and Tom Brady. Jaelon Darden may not work out but he’s a WR6. Real Talk

drdneast
drdneast(@drdneast)
13 days ago

Darden seems to lack the intestinal fortitude that is required to return punts and kickoffs in the NFL.

scubog
scubog(@scubog)
Reply to  drdneast
13 days ago

He does look a bit tentative at times. Just needs to gain some confidence. He’s young.

fredster
fredster(@fredster)
Reply to  scubog
13 days ago

Hmm Darden worries me a lot if I’m honest. I could see him fumbling or muffing a punt and losing a close playoff game or something. Mickens wasn’t as fast and shifty but he also didn’t lose the game for you! Miller hasn’t done much when he’s been back there either and likely will get hurt. Miller has never offered much after the catch either as a WR. Just a fast guy that gets open on deep routes. So in the short term at least this was not a good thing for this team imo.

Last edited 13 days ago by fredster
surferdudes
surferdudes(@surferdudes)
13 days ago

Right now Darden is on the roster because of his draft status. Monday night he let a punt hit the ground instead of fair catching it. He was lucky we weren’t pinned way back the ball took a friendly bounce. Other returns he looks to run side ways, or just gets down. He also let a ball go through his hands for a pick in the Washington game. I hope he comes around next year, but right now I don’t trust him on the field, the Bucs shouldn’t either.

Buc76
Buc76(@jjjj)
13 days ago

Definitely agree with below. We have lost something in the return game. Mickens is a better returner. We are not in development mode this year. We are trying to go back to back. Darden does not look as fast and he is billed to be and he is not a good returner. This might be a problem when we get to the big games. The good news is AB if healthy can return kicks and punts. We may need him down the stretch.

Eddie
Eddie(@oct62020)
13 days ago

“Speedy” Darden has not shown his speed yet both as a receiver and return man. Maybe the holes wasn’t there on the returns. Has been very timid in hitting the holes.

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