Vernon Hargreaves' third NFL season started off fast, and then ended rather abruptly.
On Wednesday, the Buccaneers placed Hargreaves on injured reserve due to a shoulder injury sustained in Sunday's season-opening win over the New Orleans Saints. The Bucs used the resulting open spot on the 53-man roster to bring back defensive end Will Clarke, who had been released the week before after the team claimed defensive end Carl Nassib off waivers.
The Buccaneers also filled an open spot on the 11-man practice squad on Wednesday, signing first-year offensive tackle Jarron Jones, who had been with the team in training camp. The Bucs had an opening on the practice squad after promoting cornerback Javien Elliott last Saturday.
Tampa Bay's 48-40 win in New Orleans was a wild shootout, with more than 1,000 yards of combined offense between the two teams. Saints quarterback Drew Brees passed for 439 yards and three touchdowns, but Hargreaves was a bright spot in the secondary, combining seven tackles with a forced fumble and a pass defensed. The ball he poked free from running back Mike Gillislee was recovered by safety Justin Evans and returned for a touchdown, which proved to be the key defensive sequence in an offense-dominated game.
Hargreaves hurt his shoulder while breaking up a third-down pass in the red zone midway through the fourth quarter. He started the game in the slot in a nickel package against a three-receiver set but also played outside in the team's base coverage. As such, his loss will require adjustments from the rest of the secondary in several different ways. The Buccaneers also played the season opener without starting cornerback Brent Grimes, who is recovering from a groin injury.
Clarke played 15 games for the Buccaneers last year with one start, contributing 14 tackles and 2.5 sacks. He originally made the 53-man roster to start this season, before the claim of Nassib and is back after missing just one game. The Buccaneers now have a 10-man defensive line squad, and like teammate Will Gholston, Clarke is capable of helping out on the edge or inside.
Jones joined the Buccaneers on August 7 and appeared in three of the team's four preseason games. Originally an undrafted free agent out of Notre Dame, he first signed with the New York Giants in May of 2017 and later saw time on the practice squads in Seattle and Dallas.