The Move To Mickens

September 10th, 2021

It was almost as if something spooked Bucco Bruce Arians at the last minute.

Rookie returner Jaelon Darden was supposed to “the man” for the Bucs. Coaches propped him up all summer and Joe expected Darden to return kicks and punts in the season-opener.

And then Super Bowl returner Jaydon Mickens was promoted from the practice squad early yesterday. He got the call, Darden was inactive (as was Ke’Shawn Vaughn), and Mickens delivered not only as a returner but as a gunner.

One could argue this was a great coaching move, one born from good sense and not the ego many coaches have when it comes to draft picks getting on the field.

Mickens had three kick returns for 92 yards and two punt returns for 21. Those are strong numbers for anyone. And Joe expects to see plenty more from Mickens until he gives the job back to Darden.

31 Responses to “The Move To Mickens”

  1. Andrew Says:

    Mickens played a hell of a game and not to divert from the above, but Vita needs to be highlighted in a LONG article. The man is the best player on defense. He’s going to be a problem all year if healthy.

  2. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    Maybe the stage was just too big for the rookie & BA sensed that…….that’s why he gets paid the big bucks for the Bucs.

    Plenty of time to develop Darden.

    Mickens usually isn’t spectacular but he’s solid.

  3. Medicated Pete Says:

    Pete thinks Bruce made a move that Licht didn’t like. But made it anyway by putting Licht’s draft pick inactive. I didn’t want Mickens on the roster but Pete was wrong

  4. Robert Says:

    Mickens looked GREAT. looked like a whole new return man looking for holes and not just running 10 yards into the backs of others. Keep him in there if he keeps this up!

  5. Biff Barker Says:

    Mickens made BA look like a genius. BA gave him his shot and he seized the opportunity! Great hunch rewarded by great play!

  6. DoooshLaRue Says:

    Mickens looked good, like he had something to prove.
    Keep that fire in your belly #85

  7. Doctor Stroud Says:

    Maybe the idea of keeping him off the practice squad before Week 1 was to prevent losing him to another team? The chances of players like Darden (drafted in the 4th round) signing with another team are higher before rather than during Week 1. Another Bucs mystery!

  8. SlyPirate Says:

    Special Teams as a whole was the best unit of the three. Mission accomplished.

  9. Dewey Selmon Says:

    Doc nailed it. This was a preplanned move to keep Darden from getting plucked from the PS. It could have backfired if Mickens was signed somewhere else.

  10. PSL Bob Says:

    I was very impressed with Mickens. He played the best last night that I can ever remember.

  11. DavidBigBucsFan99 Says:

    Yes Mickens was a great surprise last night, buuut still gave us a Mickens Special when he ran into the back of a blocker at the 20. Hope we don’t see that anymore . I was especially happy to see our gunners running almost free when the returner got the ball, they just have to be more prepared AND expect that “unexpected” cut that WILL come. Just wish we saw more Bucs jerseys further down field

  12. adam from ny Says:

    mickens played terrific for mickens…

    best return game on a whole that i’ve seen from him so far…

    darden prolly wasn’t ready for the big stage feel that the media and nfl painted this opening game to be…


  13. Court XXXVII Says:

    Who would have thought that Special Teams would be the unit that would shine so much last night? Hats off to Mickens. He showed up on a night when our defense under-performed and he was, once again, confident under the big lights.

  14. JimmyJack Says:

    Ahree with Adam. Best game i can remember from Mickens.

    I was excited to see Darden. Mickens just put that to rest. If Mickens can keep playing like that I wanna see him out there every time.

  15. D-Rome Says:

    Mickens played a hell of a game and not to divert from the above, but Vita needs to be highlighted in a LONG article. The man is the best player on defense.

    I agree. He’s my favorite Buc to watch and he’s a dominant force. I love that they use him on offense as well.

  16. Mike Says:

    Kicker played great, punter played great, Kick and Punt returns played great! Man, hope we see more of this!

  17. lambeau Says:

    Now what? Carry them both? Mickens can only be promoted one more time if he reverts to the practice squad. Darden cost them two draft picks–cut him and hope he passes through wavers?

  18. JimbobBucsFan Says:

    Looks like the emphasis on the STs during the off season payed off.

  19. firethecannons Says:

    Put Darden on ice for now–this team needs reliability ! Mickens is a Buc and deserves to be active for the foreseeable future, Darden is the future.

  20. Bucsfanman Says:

    Good special teams play by Mickens. Play like that will keep him on the roster and Darden on the bench.

  21. Ash Says:

    Mickens earned his spot last night for sure

  22. mark2001 Says:

    All I can say is that if this entire process fired up Mickens to play the way he did last night, more power to Coach. And Mickens.

  23. Rod Munch Says:

    There’s no reason to feel the need to activate the last pick of the 4th round. Yes, you want to keep him on the roster, but when you’re a good team you shouldn’t need or want rookies having to play week 1. The best example I always give is Ronde Barber, he played some special teams snaps at the end of his rookie season – that’s about it – otherwise I’m not even sure he was active. Why? Because the Bucs were a great defense and they could let him sit and learn – then when it was Barber’s turn, he turned in a HOF career.

    Obviously that’s not the case with Darden, but he’s not a bust because he doesn’t play week 1. Also he’s not a bust, because you can’t be a bust as the last pick of the 4th round.

  24. Chris Boyd Says:

    after that performance, mickens has a good chance of being picked up if we try to put him in the practice squad now, so good for him. he had an opportunity, and capitalized on it. I certainly hope we dont lose him, but if its down to keeping him or darden, id rather have darden. he has so much more potential

  25. alaskabuc Says:

    Micken’s ain’t giving that job up. He looked like an elite return man last night, glad to see the growth in his game. He’s going to house a couple of he keeps playing like that.

  26. Duane Says:

    Its Mickens job to lose. Nothing special, but really consistent. Coverage looked ok as well. I think I saw big hair in the mix as well a few times last night. Special teams is going to be a factor when 60 pts are scored in a game.

  27. unbelievable Says:

    That was the best game Mickens has ever had as a returner.

    I wasn’t surprised to see him- Darden has shown absolutely nothing since the pads came on. Hopefully that changes at some point this season.

  28. firethecannons Says:

    Last night was not time for Darden–plenty of time left in the season

  29. Lakelandsteve Says:

    It’s hard to know what’s going on behind the scenes but I think Arians didn’t want a rookie playing his first game against the cowboys with the whole world watching. He wanted a steady veteran fielding the kickoffs and punts. Ball security is the concern, those big returns from Mickens are icing on the cake. We may not see Darden returning kicks and punts for awhile and maybe he gets eased into some games if he’s even active.

  30. BucEmUp Says:

    Mickens is the best return man we have had in a long time. He has earned it.

    Adams on defense was in all the right places last night but the secondary was giving e flashbacks of losing seasons.
    Maybe Licht shoukd wheel and deal some of our added depth for a corner.

  31. David Says:

    As much as I want to see Darden, that seemed to be a great kick in the ass for Mickens. He did fantastic.
    And like Joe mentioned, he did well as a gunner also