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Tuesday, November 30, 2010
Buccaneers stick to youth movement

By Pat Yasinskas
ESPN.com

The thing I like best about what Tampa Bay general manager Mark Dominik and coach Raheem Morris have done this year is how they've embraced the team's youth movement and stayed firmly with it.

Gee, if John Fox had tried that, he might not be so far out the door in Carolina.

Anyway, the latest example of Tampa Bay's dedication to sticking with youth came Tuesday as the team announced a series of roster moves. It shouldn't really be this way, but the biggest one of the moves in the eyes of the Tampa Bay fan base is the team cutting fourth-year safety Sabby Piscitelli.

Yep, the Bucs cut a guy who never did much of anything and it's big news. That's partly because the Tampa Bay fan base, for reasons I could never figure out, long ago bought into the theory that Piscitelli was going to be the next John Lynch or at least the next Jermaine Phillips. He wasn't anywhere close to either.

The guy came out of college without a spectacular résumé and wasn't a first-round draft pick. Despite that, the Bucs gave him a lot of chances, probably far more than they should have. Maybe it was because Piscitelli looked the part. He had good size and could run a bit.

But the Bucs found out early on that Piscitelli had absolutely no ball skills, no intangibles and no instincts. At best, he's a guy you keep around on special teams to run downfield on kickoffs and punts. But even Piscitelli's tackling wasn't that good and it was a bit of a surprise when he made it out of training camp this year after griping about how he hadn't been given a chance to compete for a starting job.

The only real surprise here is that Piscitelli's release came on the same day the Bucs put rookie safety Cody Grimm on injured reserve. If nothing else, it looked like Grimm's injury was going to get Piscitelli some playing time the rest of the season.

But this is why I salute the Bucs. They knew Piscitelli had no future in Tampa Bay, so they pulled the plug and set up a situation where some guys who possibly could have futures in Tampa Bay will get a chance even though the team is in the playoff hunt. The Bucs promoted safety Vince Anderson and signed safety Larry Asante from Cleveland's practice squad. They'll throw those guys out there with Corey Lynch, another young safety, and see if someone rises up. If not, they'll likely have to find two safeties in the offseason because there is no guarantee Tanard Jackson will come back from a one-year suspension.

This approach shouldn't come as a total shock. All season long, Dominik and Morris have been trying methodically to upgrade their roster by wisely using their practice squad and the waiver wire. It's paid off with running back LeGarrette Blount being the prime example. It doesn't work in every case, but, if you come across a player here and there who can become a starter or at least a long-term role player, it's worth it.

In a few other moves that also fit this pattern, the Bucs placed guard Davin Joseph and defensive end Kyle Moore on injured reserve. They also promoted wide receiver Dezmon Briscoe and guard Brandon Carter from their practice squad.