NFL teams and coaches discipline players for a variety of reasons; most teams and coaches won’t tell you why.
But Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Bruce Arians isn’t like most of his cohort — it’s rare that he’s asked a question and doesn’t give an answer, or even offer the information himself.
So it was on Sunday when it came to the Buccaneers’ most experienced cornerback.
Vernon Hargreaves benched for lack of effort
Tampa Bay eked out a 30-27 win over the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday, but after the game Arians acknowledged that Vernon Hargreaves, the team’s first-round pick in 2016, was benched in the third quarter for lack of effort.
“He didn’t look like he was hustling to go in for a tackle,” Arians explained.
Hargreaves has started all of Tampa Bay’s games this season, but ended up playing just 46 of 70 defensive snaps on Sunday.
He did go back in the game in the fourth quarter, after another corner, M.J. Stewart, suffered a knee injury.
Arians had called out the Tampa Bay secondary last week for its performance against the Seattle Seahawks.
‘If that’s what coach saw, that’s what he saw’
Hargreaves, who has been credited with 36 solo tackles in nine games, recognized that he needs to do better.
“If that's what Coach saw, that's what he saw,” he said. “There's no arguing it. I need to hustle, point-blank, end of discussion. And I'll get better. I'm sure I'll talk with him this week and we'll get things straightened out, and we'll see where to go from here.”
He added that he had a feeling he wouldn’t be out for the rest of the game.
“I knew it was gonna happen,” Hargreaves said. “I knew it was gonna happen, because it always does. I've been through this before, honestly. Guys get hurt. I knew it. I knew I was gonna go back in the game. I knew I had to finish the game. Something was just telling me. I stayed ready. It's not my first time going through something like this. We'll see. We'll see if we can get it figured out.”
In the spring, Arians sat Hargreaves for the first practice of OTAs, saying he was “not mentally ready” to be on the field, but there were no further incidents before Sunday.
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