Thursday, December 14, 2017
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Bucs rookie Danny Vitale shows versatility again

TAMPA — Danny Vitale's position at Northwestern was called "super back" as a nod to his unique athletic versatility, and the sixth-round draft pick hopes to continue that hybrid Swiss Army knife role as a Bucs rookie.

"I think I actually fell into a great situation — I did this pretty much in college," said Vitale, enjoying his first practice at rookie minicamp. "I kind of played in the slot, I kind of played tight end, a little bit of fullback, so I think the biggest transition is going to be that fullback spot when they do need it. But I'm not worried about it. I think just using my athleticism I'll be able to figure it out."

Vitale, listed as a tight end on the Bucs' roster, was introduced as wearing No. 33 but wore 86, much more of a tight end's number, on Friday. His college coach used him as a do-it-all weapon, creating mismatches with his size — 6 feet 1, 239 pounds — and his speed, running the 40 in 4.60 seconds at the combine.

"Very versatile player," Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald said. "A terrific athlete, an amazing work ethic. He had the full package for us."

The Bucs don't have a true fullback; last year's only one, Jorvorskie Lane, wasn't re-signed. But Vitale doesn't think of the position as dying off in the NFL so much as being re-imagined as offenses change.

"I think football is moving toward this hybrid style of football," Vitale said. "I wouldn't say 'dying,' I would say it's transitioning to more of this H-back position that I think I'll be playing a lot of here. It's exciting to see."

Cram session: Coach Dirk Koetter said the three-day rookie minicamp is a balance of trying to introduce as much scheme as possible to new players without overwhelming them, and he has been pleased with how they've handled it.

"They're definitely spinning, but these guys, again, I can't say enough," Koetter said of the 51 players attending. "When we were out there for the walkthrough this morning, they were ready to go. They had their ears pinned back. … They know what's at stake. These guys are hungry, and they show it."

More signings: In addition to top pick Vernon Hargreaves, the team signed LB Devante Bond, the first of two sixth-round picks. With S Ryan Smith and OL Caleb Benenoch on board already, the team has signed four of its seven draft picks, with only DE Noah Spence, K Roberto Aguayo and Vitale remaining.

This and that: Former USF WR Andre Davis, cut last week, was invited back to minicamp as a tryout player. Former USF offensive linemen Thor Jozwiak and Brynjar Gudmundsson are also participating as tryout players. … Former FSU kicker Aguayo, drafted in the second round, has familiar faces this weekend, as Seminoles P Cason Beatty and long snapper Dax Dellenbach are in minicamp as tryout players. … Former Bucs coach Tony Dungy, soon to be enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, watched practice with chief operating officer Brian Ford. … Koetter, asked if he had shortened practices as other NFL teams in Florida have due to the heat: "I think we're cutting it down, but I didn't call Miami and Jacksonville to ask permission."

Contact Greg Auman at [email protected] and (813) 310-2690. Follow @gregauman.

 
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