Buccaneers fans need to be critical of praise for fence player

Jaelon Darden, Tampa Bay Buccaneers,(Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Jaelon Darden, Tampa Bay Buccaneers,(Photo by Harry How/Getty Images) /

While it looks like the Buccaneers have no choice but to keep Jaelon Darden on their roster, it doesn’t mean we need to buy into any propaganda at this part of the season.

We are officially going into our second summer where there is a mountain of hype surrounding Buccaneers wide receiver Jaelon Darden.

Last year, Darden had a stellar camp and made it seem like he could challenge for that fourth receiver role during the regular season. Unfortunately, that player never actually showed up.

Darden was a non-factor on the offensive side of the ball despite the offense having plenty of holes with injuries and the Antonio Brown situation. When Darden was able to make it on the field, he looked dramatically different than the one that impressed everyone during camp.

To make matters worse for Darden, his skills in the return game were a major step back from what the Buccaneers had before him, and that is saying something.

While the Bucs would be crazy to cut a fourth-rounder with upside so soon, it doesn’t mean that anything about Darden’s future in Tampa is certain. That means that every glowing report on the young receiver needs to come with a healthy amount of skepticism.

Most people have seen what Carlton Davis had to say about Darden by this point. It’s great to get this kind of praise from a talented corner, but no one should ever take a player talking about a teammate at their word. What else is he going to say?

It’s just like a coach talking about their player or a parent talking about their athlete.

“We believe in him.”

“He’s the best.”

“He’s going to be great.”

Right or wrong, you can’t trust it based on who its coming from. Bruce Arians was pretty good at painting the picture as it was, but he was really just the toughest on the veterans that could take it.

Jaelon Darden can be a really great player for the Bucs and will hopefully take the next steps on offense and special teams this year, but we are going to have to see this on the field in a preseason game or the like before we are going to forget about the rough rookie season we just saw.

Never overreact to this part of the season. It happens every year. Guys need to prove themselves in the right ways, and Darden is about to get his next chance to do this and get off the fence as a fringe player and finally start making the moves that everyone knows he is capable of.

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