S Donte Nicholson played nine games for the Buccaneers as a rookie in 2005
Tampa Bay Buccaneer players returned to practice on Monday morning after enjoying almost an entire week off, thanks to their scheduled bye. The team that took the field on Monday was slightly altered, however; the Buccaneers roster shapers did not go on vacation.
Through a series of moves culminating in the re-signing of safety Donte Nicholson, the Buccaneers have bolstered a defensive secondary thinned by the arm injury suffered by Jermaine Phillips prior to the bye.
Last Tuesday, the team waived linebacker Kyle Shotwell from the practice squad. Over the next two days, the Bucs then released wide receiver Brian Clark from the active roster and re-signed him to the practice squad. That opened a spot for Nicholson, who was brought back on Monday in time to join the team for its week-opening "bonus practice."
That round of roster shuffling would seem to indicate the development of the Buccaneers' health situation at several different spots on the depth chart. Clark had been promoted from the practice squad on October 18 as the team was dealing with injuries to wide receivers Joey Galloway, Maurice Stovall and Ike Hilliard. Galloway (foot) has since returned to play in the last two contests, Hilliard didn't miss a game despite his head injury and Stovall could be close to overcoming his hamstring injury after the bye week.
The safety position, on the other hand, suffered a significant blow at Dallas in Week Eight when Phillips sustained a fractured left forearm. Second-year safety Sabby Piscitelli has stepped into the starting lineup while Phillips recovers, but that left Will Allen as the only backup behind Piscitelli and Tanard Jackson. Nicholson adds depth to the position and is also an accomplished special teamer very familiar with the Bucs' schemes.
Nicholson, who was originally a fifth-round draft pick by Tampa Bay in 2005, went to training camp with the Buccaneers this summer but was waived/injured on August 26. Over the course of several intervals on Tampa Bay's roster over the past four years, he has appeared in 11 games, recording 10 tackles on special teams and one pass breakup as a reserve safety. Most of Nicholson's regular-season playing time occurred during his rookie campaign, when he played in nine games.
Clark played in three games during his stint on the active roster, contributing one catch for 12 yards and two tackles on special teams. He had spent the first six weeks of the regular season on Tampa Bay's practice squad, where he also resided for six weeks in the second half of the 2007 season. Clark was also promoted to the 53-man roster for two games at the end of the '07 campaign, including the postseason contest against the New York Giants.
Shotwell spent two weeks on Tampa Bay's practice squad after signing with the team on October 22.