Bucs coach compares Danny Vitale to Redskins' Chris Cooley
For a sixth-round draft pick, Bucs rookie Danny Vitale continues to draw high praise from his coaches, citing his versatility as someone who could help in a "hybrid" tight end/fullback all over the Tampa Bay offense.
"He reminds me a little bit of (Chris) Cooley, with his body language and how he runs," Bucs tight ends coach Jon Embree said. "Chris was a little bit bigger (6-3 instead of 6-1), little more length, but just the way he runs and catches the ball, his ball skills."
Cooley had 429 catches in a nine-year NFL career, including 37 as a rookie -- Embree was his tight ends coach in 2010, when he caught 77 passes.
Running backs coach Tim Spencer said while Vitale works with the Bucs tight ends, he's made a strong impression already on him in the last month.
"I love Dan," Spencer said. "Dan is one of those multi-faceted players who can do a lot of things -- play a little fullback, a little tight end, playing a little bit of everything, and we'll use him doing a lot of things. ... He's a tough young man."
Spencer said Vitale wasn't asked to do most of the things the Bucs ask their "F" or fullback to do, but has the toughness needed and can learn more as he develops in the NFL. He adds to the overall flexibility of the tight end group, which can be utilized without necessarily tipping off a defense to the play call -- if the defense lines up in nickel, they can block for the run, and if the defense lines up big against the run, they can present mismatches in the pass game.
"You can stay in the same personnel, you can be in 'empty,' you can have a fullback, you can be in multiple formations without changing personnel," offensive coordinator Todd Monken said. "One of the first things a defense looks for is 'What is a team doing out of certain personnel groups?' ... If you can stay in the same group and guys can do multiple things, whether it's Chuck (RB Charles Sims) or whether it's some of the H-backs that we have, that's what we're looking for -- flexibility and guys who can do multiple things to give the defense problems. That's what it's about."