The last two weeks have been difficult for rookie tight end Danny Vitale, who was waived by the Bucs in their final cuts, then claimed by the Bills, only to be waived on his initial physical exam over concerns about a shoulder injury.
Vitale had his first practice back with the Bucs on Wednesday as a member of their practice squad, where his shoulder didn't keep him from practicing, just as it didn't limit him before his physical in Buffalo.
"I kind of figured out this job's a roller-coaster. Lots of ups and downs," said Vitale, a sixth-round draft pick by the Bucs out of Northwestern. "That's just part of the business. That's how it works, but in the end, it's great to be back here. This is where I want to be. It's a great situation for me."
When Vitale was cut, the Bucs were keeping five tight ends, but another rookie, Alan Cross, ended up getting waived Saturday to allow the Bucs to address depth concerns at other positions due to injury. Cross, too, is now on the Bucs' practice squad, joining the four tight ends now on the 53-man roster. Vitale said he had other teams offering spots on their practice squads, but he wanted to return rather than start fresh with an unfamiliar new team.
"I had options, but this was where I wanted to come back," he said. "The fans are great as far as support and everything like that. It's always nice to go back to somewhere that you're loved."
Vitale injured his shoulder in the second preseason game and the Bucs diagnosed the injury as a mild AC joint sprain -- he didn't miss so much as a single practice, and continued to play without limitations. Bills doctors diagnosed a torn labrum, however, though the Bucs trust that same shoulder enough to sign him back, and have him practicing as normal on Wednesday.
"It's just how it goes -- it's docs' decisions and you have to respect that," he said. "I'm just happy to be back and ready to put in some good work."