Tampa Bay Buccaneers signed wide receiver Jaydon Mickens to the practice squad last season on December 19th. Due to a rash of injuries at the wide out position he was promoted to the active roster week 17.
On July 31 the Buccaneers waived Mickens but it wouldn’t be a long stay off the roster. He was re-signed to the team on August 9 after wide receiver Tyler Johnson was side lined with a soft tissue injury.
That opportunity is just what Mickens needed.
Since his return the Buccaneers have lost fellow wideout John Franklin III and running back T.J. Logan to injuries. Both player figured to be potential key special teams players and in the mix for the return job. It is there where Mickens has thrived. He was a two time AFC special teams player of the week. Mickens has a 72 yard punt return and 63 yard punt return for a touchdown to his resume. With his past experience as a returner, Mickens has now entered the mix for the return job.
A Solid Camp
As a wide receiver Mickens has had a solid camp since coming back. Making some solid grabs from quarterback Tom Brady and building enough chemistry to be in the mix for the fifth or sixth wide receiver spot. Head coach Bruce Arians confirmed as much in his press conference on Thursday Morning saying.
“Every man’s injury is another man’s opportunity. ‘Mick’came in last year and did a nice job. We brough him back, he’s running faster [and] he’s in great shape, so he’s in the competition for the return job and that fifth [or] sixth receiver job.”
The praise from Arians was just another step in the right direction for a player who feels he’s been overlooked. In limited opportunities since Mickens entered the league he has 6 receptions on 11 targets for 66 yards. Add two playoff-clinching touchdowns on 132 offensive snaps. When I asked him what part of his offensive game is over looked he said.
”I mean all of my offensive game has been over looked since I been in the league. I’ve been looked at as a receiver all over my career since high school dating back to All-American games. A lot of teams know, every practice squad I’ve been to…. I’ve shown out that’s the reason I’m still here. I think everything’s been overlooked but it’s up to me being undrafted and being a guy that’s had to fight every year no matter. If I was the guy that year, this next year I’m still fighting to get to the 53….and that’s what really matters….They’ve got to just look at it and I’ve got to show up everyday.”
The Right Mentality
That kind of mentality and the willingness to learn from some of the talented guys around him is what will help Mickens earn a spot on the final roster. Mickens realizes the wealth of knowledge he has at his disposable and so far has taken advantage of it. He has been using this time to learn as much as he can from the players around him like Mike Evans, Chris Godwin and Tom Brady. He says of the experience.
It’s amazing. I’m a different receiver from Mike Evans and Chris Godwin, but taking their coaching points on certain releases and certain variations to this offense – [they say], ‘Hey, you don’t have to move that quick on this because you can do this, you can stride that out and come out and the ball is going to be right there without you having to do the extras or try to stick something really hard.’ Also, with Tom, he just brings a different energy to the room. When you’re in that huddle with Tom or you’re in that meeting and he’s talking, you just want to be better. You want to do better and you want to go harder. He’s just that type of guy. We know he expects perfection [and] he knows we’re not going to be perfect, but if we can get anything close to perfection and stride for it, we’re going to be in a great position as a football team. I’ve been learning a lot from all three guys.”
Mickens has shown the ability to over come adversity throughout his career. Humble, hardworking and Hungry. If he can continue to show his skills as a returner and a receiver in camp the sky is the limit. I wouldn’t bet against a man betting on himself to make this team.