Todd Bowles Talks Deven Thompkins Decision

December 14th, 2022

New Bucs returner Deven Thompkins.

So why was Jaelon Darden cut after 12 games this season, his second after being drafted by Tampa Bay in Round 4 last year?

In the NFL, if you don’t have legal trouble or major in-house issues, you get cut because you’re expendable.

That was sort of the Bucs’ attitude toward Darden, who had solid punt return numbers this season but didn’t have the greatest decision making.

Todd Bowles talked about the switch to undrafted rookie Deven Thompkins on Sunday. He told the Buccaneers Radio Network that the team liked Darden but Thompkins’ north-south style prompted the move.

“Thompkins, he can put his foot in the ground and get upfield,” Bowles said. “Darden was more of a sideline returner; Thompkins can go up the middle. He’s very decisive when he makes his cut. And he’s been doing it in practicing giving people fits, and he did it in the game.”

Joe liked the more explosive look to Thompkins, more of that fearless style typical of superior returners. Darden often seemed to be hunting for the sidelines.

As for Thompkins the receiver who dazzled at times during August, Bowles said he hopes to see some of that guy in the final four games of the regular season.

“Great hands, he’s explosive and he’s a good route runner,” Bowles said.

43 Responses to “Todd Bowles Talks Deven Thompkins Decision”

  1. Goatfarmer Says:

    Thompkins was the only one who showed up Sunday. The sad thing is they stuck with DarDone for so long.

  2. Onetrickpony Says:

    Thompkins did look promising after watching Darden. Time will tell

  3. Casual Observer Says:

    Agree. Thompkins looks speedy and shifty. Good move.

  4. captivajim Says:

    For months , many, many guys posted on this site that Darden always ran toward the sidelines.. Yet , It took Bowleszo 3 months to reach the same conclusion !!! He is absolutely helpless..

  5. Sbucs Says:

    What a great coaching staff… it took every minute of thirteen weeks do decide Thompkins ‘might’ be more of a north south punt returner / runner than Darden

  6. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    Can’t quarrel with Darden’s hands….hope Thompkins is as good there.

    As far as Thompkins making people miss in practice…..not surprised…..he’s practicing against Buc coverage.

  7. Winky Says:

    Let’s go Thompkins!

  8. Goatfarmer Says:

    Give Gage a rest and put Thompkins in for his snaps.

  9. BA’s Red Pen Says:

    Dardung was soft. Thompkins isn’t.

  10. D-Rok Says:

    Good decision, finally.

    Maybe there’s hope after all…

  11. NEfan Says:

    Small sample size but a good one, agreed love to see him try some wr. Pat’s have a similar guy Jones, great return guy and they use him sparingly on O. He already has a return for a td and his first play from the line of scrimmage was a sideline pass he took to the house.

  12. Goatfarmer Says:

    I’d have hope if the second coming of Raheem Morris hadn’t taken over as coach, losing the defense in the process of wrecking the offense. Made easier by Boron the drooler.

  13. SPARKY Says:

    Why not try Tompkins at receiver? His quickness is what we need. He should be able to get some seperation in 2 seconds.

  14. Marine Buc Says:

    Stay healthy please…

    5’8″ – 175 lbs.

    Looked pretty solid in his first game as our returner. Will probably be a better receiver than Darden was as well.

  15. Mike Johnson Says:

    If Thompkins keeps running like he did against the 9ers, He is going to break one all the way to the house before the season ends. He runs unafraid.

  16. D-Rok Says:


    Maybe Thompkins at his diminuitive size and quickness is what can propel the Bucs O. Brady loves him some quick Smurf-types (Edelmen, Welker).
    Who knows? At this point, try everything – it can’t hurt! We need a serious spark on the O.

  17. SufferingSince76 Says:

    That should take care of all the team’s ills. Todd is on top of it. 🙄

  18. Marine Buc Says:


    I agree. At this point I would be willing to try anything to get a win or spark this offense at all…

  19. HomerSimpsonRocks Says:

    Darden had flutter feet. Shuffle feet. That may have worked in D4 college, but it doesn’t work in the NFL. He never adjusted. Not great at decisions either.

  20. JayBuc Says:

    Best decision Bowles has made all year

  21. D-Rok Says:

    And to extrapolate a tad further, Marine, just think if we had Gage and Thompkins available to us for the last 6 games. With all the quick throws to those 2, more drives could’ve been kept alive. Throw in Godwin with some intermediate throws, then we have deep sideline-beaters Julio and Evans.

    But it hasn’t happened, sigh. It’s fun to imagine what could’ve been in retrospect.

    And this scenario is still possible this year, but with the schemes, lack of coaching, and injuries, none of it has even come close to being realized, even though it’s all still right in front of this team.

    One thing I’ve learned from loosely following Brady, then closely following him last few years, is never count out a Brady-led TEAM until it’s actually over and done.

    I still reserve a small bastion of hope for this team…call me silly or an eternal optimist.

    GO BUCS!!!

  22. DungyDance Says:

    Also thought Thompkins showed early promise. Maybe I missed a subsequent article, but I thought I saw in a post a while ago that Scotty was slated to return some. Did that officially change?

  23. Jeff Says:

    This will end poorly.

  24. Beej Says:

    I’d like for us to at least have one wide receiver who can catch a short crossing pass and turn it into a long touchdown

  25. Nprbuc Says:

    Marine Buc- I was a little worried about his size too and then remembered Warrick Dunn. They are about the same same height and weight yet Dunnn tore it up for years for us. I’m hoping that Thompkins is our answer back there. He sure plays with heart and courage compared to Darden who must hold the record for fastest time to sidelines, most trips over chalk marks and all out dives to avoid being hit🤪. Go Bucs!

  26. Christos Says:

    One of the things that this coaching stuff has done a bad job is personnel and playing time decisions. Not only coaching and playcalling.
    I dont know what Thompkins will bring in the future but if you have watched the preseason games it was clear that he showed some breakong tackles ability and Darden never did that. Only rans to the sidelines. Yet he didnt get a chance until game 13
    Again in the preseason Stinnie and Leverret didnt look like world beaters but Goedeke was beaten constantly and badly yet the coaches put him to start for 7 games.
    When Smith and Wells were out for the game week 2 at NO Walton started at LT and he had a really good solid game without ever beaten badly. Yet Wells is always the 1st backup T even though he gets beat at least 4 to 5 times a game.
    Brate gets more playing time than Otton in some games.
    We are not coaches but we can see on tape who performs better when the difference is so clear.
    Too many questionable decisions about playing time.

  27. gotbbucs Says:

    ….and it only took damn near the whole season for them to figure this out. He should have been on the opening day roster. We had recievers dropping like flies, and they kept on shoving Bernard Perriman down our throat.

    If you can’t identify players on your own roster, how in the hell can you scout other teams players and college players. Here’s where Ive had a huge problem with the disconnect between our front office and our coaching staff’s over the last few years. Lovie was clueless, Koetter was in over his head, Arians could see it, Bowles is once again clueless.
    The new practice squad and injured reserve rules should make it insanely easy to identify players on your roster, yet these clowns insist on trotting out the same old worn out players week after week expecting them to magically turn back time and become explosive again.

  28. MadMax Says:

    I like this kid….just needs to work on his ball securement. Have him walk around with a football at all times during practice and each player that knocks it out gets a $50. Builds those muscles and tendons and knack for holding on to that ball!

  29. teacherman777 Says:

    Darden was a chicken.

    Thompkins is tough.

  30. Uncle Urk Says:


  31. Henry Says:

    Maybe he will turn out to be the next Danny Reece. Woooooo!!!!!! The dude was fearless and hardly ever called for a fair catch.

  32. 1sparkybuc Says:

    I said this in August. Thompkins will be an impact player for the Bucs, but the coaches will still be here. The Bucs aren’t going to accomplish anything until changes are made in the staff. No Sunday Ticket for me next season if these clowns are still in charge. That’s a first in the entire history of this franchise. I have never missed a game if there was some way I could see it. These guys are wasting the talent available to them on this roster. I’m through wasting my time and paying for the embarrassment and aggravation. I will try to watch what I have already paid for, but until these coaches are history I won’t be spending any money on this team. The last with HC lost his job because of his loyalty Smith. Players get cut or traded when they don’t perform as expected. The same standard should apply to the coaching staff. These guys have made Tom Brady look like a has been. That’s just wrong. Great coaches adjust to the situation and opponent. Our coaches don’t. It really is that simple. They should surprise people occasionally and run up the gut on first down. Cuss, rant, cuss.

  33. Beej Says:

    I remember that one season where he caught 70 punts and never once called for a fair catch

  34. PewterStiffArm Says:

    I have been mentioning this young man for eight weeks. If I continue to mention how pathetic Leftstiff is he won’t be fired until free agency.

  35. Pewter Power Says:

    What’s more disturbing is dude was doing it in practice and it took this long to compare him to Darden. This coaching staff sucks

  36. Miller5252 Says:

    All Darden ever did was run to the sidelines. I would bet he only got tackled in the middle of the field 5 or less times this year. I guy was soft and ran scared to the sidelines always. Good riddance

  37. ClwJB Says:

    Yeah let’s wait until Darden has run out of bounds 100 times in a row and most of our WR Corp has been injured at some point this season but now is the time to move on from Darden

    Blind leading the blind – where is the GM, in hiding from embarrassment????

  38. Wild Bill Says:

    Darden had very good straight line speed but was not elusive. The new kid adds quick change of direction to his straight line speed. Sure as hel- looked way more exciting in his returns. And boy could the Bucs use some shifty speed at receiver.

  39. WillieG Says:

    “Darden was more of a sideline returner” — ya think?!

  40. JeffreyLane77 Says:

    The reason Darden was on the field so long is because he was a 4th rd draft pick. Who did we cut to make room for Darden again?

  41. ChrisBuc23 Says:

    He is looking nice so far compared to darden now he needs to keep it going and get better.

  42. Buczilla Says:

    I love it when dudes that no one expected to do much show up when it matters. You can tell this kid is hungry and hasn’t been affected by the players that look like they’re just mailing it in at this point.

  43. Eckwood Says:

    Wasted pick as stated guy can’t run north south and if it took this amount of time to figure that out it’s just another Coaching FAILURE !!! Sports guys are like the government , they are so disgustingly entitled that they nor their bosses never realize they are outlining their own failures !! It took two Years?? !! A Staff payed 15 million dollars a year , it took two years !! How is this even possible !! ?? Talk about systematic preservation !! Who is the Bucs defensive coordinator?? Now Do You Understand the #dontjudge movement !!! Who is The Bucs D Coordinator ??!!