For the second straight week, the Buccaneers were undermanned at cornerback, this time missing M.J. Stewart and Brent Grimes.
The injuries gave third-year corner Vernon Hargreaves additional opportunities for snaps, and he took advantage of them, making several plays in the first half.
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Though its been a strength of his since his rookie season, Hargreaves was particularly tenacious in the run game against Detroit. He was bullying into blockers near the line of scrimmage, and he managed to single-handedly stop Legarrette Blount on a long run that could have yielded much more.
It’s the passing game and the actual act of covering receivers that Hargreaves has struggled with through two seasons. But Buccaneers fans should be cautiously optimistic of what they saw Friday night.
Hargreaves stayed glued to Golden Tate on a play in the red zone forcing an incomplete pass. Then, later, he had another impressive pass breakup.
Preseason stock can’t soar much higher than Peyton Barber’s has. Immediately following last springs’ draft, Barber’s stock with the Buccaneers was nearly comatose. The team eagerly sought out running backs in the draft and landed on USC’s Ronald Jones.
However, all Barber has done the entire offseason is prove people wrong and play his tail off. The Buccaneers would love to get their second-round pick more action, but Barber has left them with no choice. It’s a good problem for head coach Dirk Koetter to have.
Though Barber was underrated as a player last season, he looks noticeably better this year in terms of concerning quickness, decision-making and tough running. That’s in large part due to Barber shedding weight in the off-season and becoming less of a plodder.
Through three preseason games, Barber has rushed for two touchdowns and has averaged over five yards per carry. He’s locked into the starting tailback spot with the regular season right around the corner.
Wilson is the second running back to increase his stock against the Lions, but not for his actual rushing ability. Thanks to his receiving ability and upside as a third down player, the rookie from Duke essentially had his roster spot locked up when Charles Sims was placed on injured reserve. But Wilson’s most significant contributions may come on special teams if the preseason is any indication.
Against the Lions, Wilson returned four kicks for a total of 113 yards, including returns of 39 and 31 yards. Wilson has the speed and quickness to expose bad angles and pick up extra yards that other Buccaneers returners cannot. Along with his impressive showing on special teams, Wilson added an eight-yard yard reception and two runs for nine yards.