Buccaneers have plan for return game without Darden

Scotty Miller, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)
Scotty Miller, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images) /

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers could be without Jaelon Darden, and Bruce Arians has shed light on the Buccaneers plan for the return game.

Darden, the rookie wide receiver who the Buccaneers selected in the fourth round out of North Texas, has been very solid in the return game thus far in 2021. After suffering a concussion, the Bucs may have to look elsewhere for a temporary fix in the return game should he be unable to clear protocol by this weekend’s game against the Atlanta Falcons.

The easy solution would have been to throw Jaydon Mickens back there in the job he once held, but he was unfortunately poached from the practice squad by the Jacksonville Jaguars last week. Now, the Bucs are looking elsewhere.

According to Bucco Bruce, the plan is for Giovani Bernard to be the primary kickoff return man, while Scotty Miller, who himself was just activated off the injured reserve last week, will handle the punt return duties.

In a season littered with injuries, of course the team now has to make plans for backup return men, just as they were getting healthy. It’s just perversely fitting. Fortunately, this is a low-risk situation, and it isn’t like the Bucs need to rely on a Michale Spurlock miracle.

Darden will be back soon, and when one looks around at the receiver room when he does come back that now has Scotty Miller, suddenly that room looks to be delightfully loaded, and that’s with Antonio Brown’s return hopefully on the horizon. We think.

It’ll be interesting to see how a veteran running back like Bernard handles kick returns, but chances are the majority will result in touchbacks anyway. For Miller, it’s nice seeing him back on the field, so his contributions are always welcome, regardless of where they may come from.