Sunday against the Rams will be the first regular season game at Raymond James Stadium for Vernon Hargreaves III since 2010, when he attended a Bucs-Falcons throwback game as a fan.

This one will be more meaningful, of course, but Hargreaves isn’t so much thinking about the emotions that come with returning to his hometown NFL stadium as a player just yet. The rookie’s focused on the task at hand.

Bucs CB Vernon Hargreaves III - Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

Bucs CB Vernon Hargreaves III – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

“Nothing yet. Not too nervous, not too excited yet,” Hargreaves said. “Maybe when we get closer to Sunday I’ll start feeling emotion. But like I said, it’s another game. We have to go out there and we have to win. Obviously, after last week, we have to come out and play better.”

While Hargreaves, who’s had to guard the likes of Julio Jones and Larry Fitzgerald in his first two weeks as a pro, doesn’t know if a certain nostalgia will kick in when he takes the field at home, he knows what to expect from his mom on Sunday.

“I’ll probably hear her before I see her, like in most cases,” Hargreaves said. “She’s always screaming at something (from the stands). But it’s awesome. I can’t wait to experience it.”

Eventually it’ll kick in. “It’s crazy to think about that now that you’re playing on that field,” he said. “Like I said, probably closer to Sunday I’ll start feeling the nerves.”

For Hargreaves, the game against Los Angeles also features a mini college throwback between himself, an All-SEC cornerback from Florida, and Todd Gurley, an All-SEC running back from Georgia.

The two future first-round picks faced each other in 2013 – Hargreaves a freshman and Gurley a sophomore – with Gurley’s Bulldogs holding off a Gators late comeback to win 23-20. Hargreaves was all over the field that day for Florida’s defense, recording a team-high nine tackles. Meanwhile, Gurley rushed for 100 yards on just 17 carries, one of four 100-yard efforts that season.

“There’s not a lot I can say about him,” Hargreaves said of Gurley. “Everybody knows what he can do. I have great respect for the guy. We have to hold him down and contain him. He’s a big part of their offense.”

One of the reasons Tampa Bay drafted Hargreaves was for his tackling ability, a skill cornerbacks’ often lack. Aside from guarding Tavon Austin and Kenny Britt in the passing game – which Hargreaves called another “great matchup for the defense” – this Sunday provides a good opportunity to show his complete skill-set and help the Bucs front seven limit Gurley.

And if the defense can do that, they’ll be in good position Sunday – evidenced by Gurley’s 98 rushing yards and the Rams 9 points over two games.

Tampa Bay is hoping for a different result than the “creamsicle” game Hargreaves last attended in Ray Jay. The Falcons won 28-24, moving the Bucs to 7-5 on the year. Ironically, Brent Grimes had the game-icing interception that day – for Mike Smith’s defense.

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About the Author: Zach Shapiro

Zach is entering his 3rd year covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as a writer for 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:
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5 years ago

Coack Koetter is going to have to take some chances in this game or it will be a long day. Despite the TE situation and the pass rush concerns i still believe we can win this game, but we can’t play vanilla ball. Go Bucs!

5 years ago

Finally getting a turnover or two might improve our chances for victory.