The Buffalo Bills' concerns about rookie tight end Danny Vitale's shoulder could end up reuniting the sixth-round draft pick with the Bucs this week.
Vitale, who was waived as one of the Bucs' final roster cuts last week, was claimed by the Bills on Sunday, but they released him Monday afternoon, saying he had failed a physical.
The issue is a shoulder injury that Vitale suffered in the Bucs' second preseason game, against the Jaguars. According to Vitale's agent, the Bucs took X-rays and diagnosed the injury as a minor AC joint sprain -- he had mild soreness, but didn't miss a single practice or game. He hasn't had any lingering pain or discomfort and has been bench-pressing without any problems since the injury. When he was waived by Tampa Bay, it wasn't with any injury designation.
But the Bills' doctors Monday saw a torn labrum, his agent said, and he'll go back on waivers. If he clears waivers on Wednesday at 4 p.m., he becomes a free agent and can sign with any team's practice squad, and the Bucs would be interested in bringing back a prospect they spent the past four months developing. The Bills were 19th in the NFL's waiver order, so he had been passed up by more than half the teams in the league before there were any injury concerns, so it's reasonable to think he would clear waivers this time.
"Completely blindsided by this failed physical," Vitale wrote on Twitter on Monday. "Wish I could give a better explanation."
The Bills have dealt with shoulder problems and rookies already this season, as first-round defensive end Shaq Lawson is on the physically unable to perform list for the first six weeks of the season due to a shoulder injury.
The Bucs would have to drop a player from the current practice squad, but they're already evaluating options to upgrade those 10 players. On Tuesday, they will work out former Cincinnati receiver Mekale McKay, a 6-foot-4 receiver who ran the 40 in 4.55 seconds at the NFL combine and was waived by the Colts. McKay had seven catches for 128 yards in preseason with the Colts for an 18.3-yard average.