The Bucs were able to get Wisconsin linebacker Jack Cichy as late as the sixth round because of the knee injury that cost him his senior season.
But as rookie minicamp started Friday, nine months after surgery to repair a torn ACL in his right knee, Cichy was out practicing with the rest of his draft class, grateful to be healthy again.
"It was fun to be back out here. Everything felt good," said Cichy, who wore a brace on his right knee. "It felt crisp and felt good just to get back in the flow of things and get acclimated here."
Cichy was injured in August, and had made enough progress to be running agility drills at his pro day in March. Being on the field, even in a non-contact practice Friday, is a huge boost in helping a rookie better understand a playbook he'll be learning over the summer months.
"Being able to be back in a football-rich environment, in an organization that really prides itself in the details, it's great to have that playbook and take it upon yourself to earn respect," he said.
Cichy was assigned a No. 41 jersey and wore that Friday, but he's already negotiated a locker-room deal to acquire his college number, 48, from long-snapper Drew Ferris.
"It'll be worth it," he said of the transaction. "Hopefully it will pay dividends."