Bucs' kick returner Jaydon Mickens fueled by doubters

Tampa Bay will host Atlanta on Sunday at 4:05 p.m.
Posted at 3:39 PM, Sep 15, 2021

TAMPA, Fla. — Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians said that special teams was the reason they beat the Dallas Cowboys 31-29 in the season opener.

Kick returner Jaydon Mickens was a big part of that production and he’s a player with a big chip on his shoulder.

“Who gets cut the first day of camp (last season), comes back, becomes the returner all year, gets COVID, cut again,” Mickens said.

Mickens knows the life of an undrafted player all too well.

“When someone says I can’t do something when I can’t do something I’m going to show you that I really can,” he added.

Undrafted out of Washington in 2017, Mickens joined the Bucs in 2019. He’s been cut four times, went to the practice squad and each time worked his way back to the active roster.

“You’re at the bottom of the roster, you have to go a step up,” Mickens said. “I got to make sure I look better than everyone around when I have the opportunity when it is up to me.”

In Thursday’s season opener against the Cowboys, Mickens got the nod over the fourth-round draft pick, rookie Jaelon Darden. Mickens returned three kickoffs for a 30-yard average and two punts for a ten yard average.

“We had two meetings without the coaches just to get everybody in line to become a return team because I get tweeted and people ‘at’ me ‘this team doesn’t have a returner,’’ Mickens said. “So, we kind of took that personal so we came out and hit them in the mouth.”

Those social media haters could fuel another run at a Super Bowl title.

“Heck yeah we want that again,” Mickens said. “That’s what you do it for. Everywhere I go it’s ‘Super Bowl champion Jaydon Mickens.’ It’s not just ‘Jaydon Mickens, the football player.’”