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Safety in Numbers: Bucs Bring Nicholson Back

Having lost rookie Sabby Piscitelli, an emerging special teams ace, to injured reserve this week, the team has re-signed another safety and kick-coverage helper, Donte Nicholson


S Donte Nicholson has played in 10 games with the Buccaneers over the past two seasons

Though Chad Lucas initially took Sabby Piscitelli's roster spot this week, it appears the Tampa Bay Buccaneers now want to use that spot to replace Piscitelli's contributions at safety and, particularly, on special teams. Thus, on Saturday, the Buccaneers released Lucas, a promising young wide receiver, and re-signed safety Donte Nicholson.

The 6-1, 216-pound Nicholson is likely to be active on Sunday against the Carolina Panthers in order to help the Bucs on kick coverage. Though Piscitelli had yet to work his way into the mix on defense, he had emerged as a strong contributor on special teams before suffering a season-ending foot injury last Sunday. The Bucs know from experience that Nicholson can help in the same way.

Nicholson, in fact, first entered the league as a fifth-round draft pick by the Buccaneers out of Oklahoma in 2005. He made the active roster as a rookie and played in nine games, primarily on special teams. He contributed nine kick-coverage stops and, in his first appearance on defense, broke up a potential touchdown pass in the end zone against Atlanta on November 20.

Nicholson went to training camp with the Buccaneers again in 2006 but was released on September 2 during the final cut-down before the regular-season. He was then re-signed by Tampa Bay on November 27, after which he saw action in one additional game.

At Oklahoma, Nicholson earned first-team All-Big 12 honors as a senior after posting 72 tackles, two sacks, one interception and six passes defensed from the strong safety position. He transferred to Oklahoma in 2003 after two years at Mount San Antonio Junior College and won the Big 12's Defensive Newcomer of the Year Award. Nicholson played his high school ball in Diamond Bar, California.

The 6-1, 201-pound Lucas impressed in training camp and has been on the practice squad for most of September. He got the call up to the 53-man roster on Wednesday when the team placed Piscitelli on injured reserve due to a fractured foot.

A former Alabama State standout, Lucas first entered the NFL as an undrafted free agent with the Tennessee Titans in 2004. After a stint in the Arena League, Lucas logged time on the Green Bay Packers' practice squad in 2005 before being promoted to the active roster for two games. Lucas joined Tampa Bay's practice squad in October of 2006 and was then re-signed after the season. With the Bucs this preseason, he caught two passes for 12 yards.

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