Having already promoted rookie offensive linemen Will Barker, Brandon Carter and Derek Hardman from the practice squad, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers looked outside the building this week when another spot opened in that crew.
The Bucs still found a player who was familiar with their offensive system, re-signing first-year center Donovan Raiola, who played in all four preseason games with the team this summer. The addition of Raiola follows the move of starting center Jeff Faine to injured reserve on Monday. Faine suffered a season-ending right triceps injury against the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday.
The Buccaneers still have one open position on their 53-man roster, as cornerback Aqib Talib was also placed on injured reserve on Monday.
The 6-2, 293-pound Raiola first entered the NFL as an undrafted free agent with the St. Louis Rams in 2006. He has since had several lengthy stints on the Rams' practice squad, including the last half of the 2007 season and a portion of 2008. Raiola has also spent time with the Pittsburgh Steelers (2007), Seattle Seahawks (2008), Arizona Cardinals (2009) and Chicago Bears (2009).
The Buccaneers first signed Raiola on June 23, roughly a month before the start of training camp. He played Tampa Bay's entire preseason slate, starting at center in the finale at Houston. He was released on September 4 during the league-wide cutdown to 53-man rosters.
Raiola is the younger brother of Dominic Raiola, a veteran center entering his 10th season with the Detroit Lions. A second-round pick in 2001, the elder Raiola has played in 135 games with 119 starts. Though both brothers played their high school ball in Hawaii, Dominic chose Nebraska while Donovan later played for the Badgers.
Donovan Raiola started his last three seasons at Wisconsin, opening a total of 39 games and winning honorable mention All-Big Ten honors each year. As a senior, he helped the Badgers average just under 400 yards of offense per game and rank 14th in the nation in scoring.
Raiola is the second addition to the Buccaneers' offensive line corps in the last two weeks. After starting right guard Davin Joseph sustained a season-ending foot fracture in Baltimore on November 28, Carter was signed from the practice squad to take his place. Raiola gives the Buccaneers added depth on the interior line, where Carter had been left as the only reserve behind the likely starters of Ted Larsen, Jeremy Zuttah and Derek Hardman.