The Tampa Bay Buccaneers didn’t let the void left by wide receiver Jaydon Mickens’ departure last a day.
Jacksonville snagged Mickens away from the Bucs’ practice squad on Wednesday. The Bucs responded by filling the vacant practice squad spot by re-signing former Los Angeles Chargers wide receiver John Hurst.
Tampa Bay signed Hurst originally as an undrafted free agent in 2020 out of Division I I West Georgia. Despite COVID that year, West Georgia still had a Pro Day where Hurst caught the Bucs’ attention. He ran a 4.45-second 40-yard dash per 11 Alive’s Alex Glaze. Hurst claims he’s drawn comparisons to a couple of Bucs quarterback Tom Brady’s old favorite targets in New England.
“I get compared to Wes Welker and Julian Edelman, those Patriots slots, all of the time, but that’s not the kind of player I am,” Hurst said per Glaze.
Hurst cracked the Bucs’ initial 53-man roster in 2020 but never saw the field due to going on injured reserve due to an ankle injury. The Bucs put him on the practice squad after his return from IR but then released him in November 2020.
Los Angeles signed him afterward during 2020 but only lasted through the 2021 preseason. His second stint with the Bucs began on Sept. 21 but that stint ended in November when the Bucs released him to clear space for Breshad Perriman.
While Hurst fills Mickens’ receiver spot on the practice squad, it doesn’t resolve depth for kick returners. Mickens returned kicks and punts last season, and he started as the returner this season before rookie wide receiver Jaelon Darden took over, which leaves the Bucs looking elsewhere for a second returner.
Scotty Miller Next in Line for Returning Kicks?
With speedy wide receiver Scotty Miller activated following a turf toe injury, the Bucs could look to him as a second returner for special teams behind Darden. Miller returned one kick for 19 yards this season.
Bucs head coach Bruce Arians didn’t dismiss the idea though he noted that Darden “is pretty entrenched in that role.”
“Scotty has never really done it in live action,” Arians told the media on Tuesday. “If he’s up, he would be the backup, so Jaelon is handling that and doing a heck of a job with it, I think. But for Scotty right now, it’s just about whether or not the game plan fits, and try to get him rolling again.”
Miller hasn’t played since Week 3 against the Los Angeles Rams when he injured his toe. His speed helped the Bucs in the passing game last season as Brady connected with him on four touchdowns of 35 yards or more between the regular season and playoffs.
Bucs Protecting Perriman
Tampa Bay won’t let anyone snatch Perriman from the practice squad as the Jaguars did with Mickens. The Bucs protected Perriman for another week after a solid showing against the New York Giants on Monday.
Perriman signed with the Bucs and joined the practice squad on Nov. 13, and he moved up to the active roster for Week 9 against Washington and again on for Monday’s win. He caught two passes for 19 yards against the Giants.