Bruce Arians: Jaelon Darden Will Expand His Role

October 26th, 2021

The reason the Bucs pulled rookie Jaelon Darden off the bench against the Bears was explained this evening.

Bucco Bruce Arians himself said why the Bucs made the call to cut Super Bowl returner Jaydon Mickens and go with their fourth-round pick on kicks and punts — and a few times on offense.

“He’s ready,” Arians said of Darden on his official Buccaneers radio/streaming/YouTube show.

“You know you watch young guys perform in practice and keep moving and going forward.”

On benching Jaydon Mickens, “Jaelon is just so much more explosive,” Arians said.

And the head coach likes the potential of what Darden can deliver on offense. Darden had 1 rush for 11 yards.

“He could start his role and expand it,” Arians said. “He’s got special quickness and explosiveness. It’s very rare.”

Of Darden’s 43-yard breakthrough punt return on Sunday, Arians said Darden got winded and stopped before he could do more damage. The head coach suspects a touchdown will happen the next time Darden breaks one.

The Bucs haven’t had a special returner since Clifton “Peanut” Smith made the Pro Bowl as an undrafted rookie in 2008.

Act II of Micheal Spurlock was exciting, as was whenever DeSean Jackson felt like running one back for the Bucs. Of course, as Bucs fans remember, Jackson made those decisions rather than the guy in charge.

28 Responses to “Bruce Arians: Jaelon Darden Will Expand His Role”

  1. Scotty in Fat Antonio Says:

    He got winded? What does he do to stay in shape during the practice week? Does he not….oh…I don’t know….run 100 yard dashes with maybe obstacles in between as part of his practice regime?

  2. Listnfrmafar Says:

    He looked pretty good, don’t see him running out of gas, more like ran out of room.

  3. Gbobucsfan Says:

    I’ll never forget that dirty hit Dante Wesley put on Peanut. Stinkin Panthers

  4. AlabamaBucsFan Says:

    Jaelon Darden was one most exciting WRs in college after the catch.

    I agree, Darden might not be the fastest player but he has extreme quickness in his cuts.

  5. SB~LV Says:

    And…. special plays designed for him, bring him along slowly until he shows he can continue to bring something different to show defenses later in the year.
    He looks like he is a little thicker from the weight room and especially the training table. His college resources were very limited particularly the tuned diet he is own .
    Kid has the “it” and now he has to show off on this stage

  6. Leighroy Says:

    Why exactly couldn’t he start that expanded role vs the bears instead of giving Cyril Grayson reps? They both got 13 snaps according to internet research, and while most of that was garbage time, some of it was 1st half. That’s the portion specifically I’d rather see go to Darden than some other JAG.

  7. Infomeplease Says:

    All I know is that JD got some moves. Hopefully he continues these on Sunday!!! Just another piece of the puzzle for opposing defensive coordinators to deal with!! I bet Sean Payton won’t be wearing his little smirk if JD gets going on Sunday!!! Just sayin’

  8. D-Rok Says:

    I thought Darden showed excellent game speed on his 43-yard punt return. He didn’t dance much, made only 2-3 cuts, and then turned on the speed. He might have a faster game speed than 40 time, I dunno, but that return flashed speed. We should keep our eyes on this guy….he might surprise us in a year or so, presuming he doesn’t get broke in half in the interim. Let’s see what he has!

    GO BUCS!!! 🙂

  9. View from 132 Says:

    Shout to the other guy in the photo, local kid Jacob Harris from East Lake High. Now with the Rams.

  10. Killian Says:

    Maybe give him a couple screens next game.

  11. Craig Says:

    Winded might have been from the tension he felt with his first true NFL play.

    Him on side, AB on the other, and Godwin in the slot, oh my.

  12. joe2 Says:

    Dang @Joe, major Dirk Koetter burn LOL!

  13. Steve Burke Says:

    Darden reminds me a bit of Johnny Rodgers from Nebraska back in the good old days…Go Big Red…

  14. Miller5252 Says:

    Was it Peanut that got destroyed on a punt return where he waved a fair catch and the tackler didn’t stop and ran right through him? I think it was a Carolina player and if I remember right the Bucs return guy, maybe Peanut, never really played or was any good after that?

  15. Buc-em-up84 Says:

    He will learn the next time to stuff arm the kicker. #go bucs

  16. Steve Burke Says:

    And if I might add, Bruce Arians reminds me a bit of Bob Devaney, we are truly blessed…

  17. Gordon Brook Says:

    Here is what I do not understand, Jaelon Darden was taken by the Bucs, early in the 4th round by moving one trade they had back a few rounds to get him. I loved that the Bucs,did that to get him because he was very outstanding wide receiver player on a good Texas team. What was outstanding about him was that he was about 5ft,7inches and was the most outstanding wide receiver ever by far on a good Texas team. He was by far the player on that team that did everything for them to win almost every game. He is extremely fast, and can turn himself around in seconds and has the best hands on every football game to catch passes. He has outstanding ability and to me he can be a complete dream for the Bucs. On last Sunday Darden made a 43 yard breakthrough and rushed for 11 yards on one carry. Yes he replaced Jaydon Mickens but to me Darden has outstanding ability and should be played in every Bucs game and not be held back like he has been. He is a great outstanding pass receiver and runner so I hope he gets support by the leaders of the Bucs, team immediately!

  18. August 1976 Buc Says:

    joe2 Says:
    October 26th, 2021 at 7:42 pm
    Dang @Joe, major Dirk Koetter burn LOL!

    No the burn is on Djax, it was a major burn by Djax against the team, and fans, how he was when he was a Buc.

    GO BUCS!!!

  19. Buccaneer Bonzai Says:

    Jaelon Darden had one great play. He still has a lot more to prove. It was a good moment though, and I got flashbacks of Spurloc…but let him string a few such plays together before anointing him anything.

  20. Leighroy Says:

    Gordon, I would say that was an outstanding post, but you have to remember that outstanding performances against the Louisiana Techs and UTEPs of the world don’t always translate to outstanding results in the NFL – where people who were outstanding in college are a dime an outstanding dozen.

    And to Buc Bonzai, we can be optimistic or desire for more opportunity without anointing anyone anything too! Same could be said for Vaughn, but no one is anointing him anything beyond his current role either.

  21. Colonel Angus Says:

    Screw the screens, give the kid a quick slant and let him turn it up field and turn on the jets.

  22. sasquatch Says:

    Nearly half way thru and we’re 6-1, and we’ll be getting starting CBs and Lavonte back soon, Gronk back, and we may have found an explosive returner going into the 2nd half of the season… Barring catastrophe, we should be looking pretty strong down the stretch.

  23. cmurda Says:

    Darden definitely ran out of gas and coasted out of bounds instead of doing the typical quick juke and a cut against a kicker. Just have to get the kicker to hesitate for a second and a returner is by them. I can live with that, He’s only going to get better and have an increasing role. He’s exciting to watch.

  24. Sorryjackchuckiesback Says:

    Got winded!?! … He’s a professional athlete and he can’t run the distance of the field!? … That’s ridiculous!!

  25. HomerSimpsonRocks Says:

    He didn’t get winded. He was squeezed out to the sideline.

  26. HomerSimpsonRocks Says:

    Watch the reviews. He got pushed out of bounds by the punter.

  27. Coburn Says:

    Yeah Miller you are remembering right. I feel like the Panthers player is in the tip of my tongue too….

  28. PassingThru Says:


    It happens. I once went to a preseason game and saw a RB, a first round, second overall pick get winded and run out of gas after just 40 or so yards from the LOS.

    His name was Eric Dickerson.

    Part of it is the way you’re conditioned. Certain types of strength training drills can cut down on sprint stamina. I’m pretty sure the trainers will be working on getting that sprint stamina back up.