Piscitelli eager to start 'rookie' season

After spending most of the 2007 season on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' injured reserve list, Sabby Piscitelli is eager to get back on the field and prove he's worth the second-round pick the Bucs spent on him in 2007. But sitting on the sidelines this season didn't suit Piscitelli one bit.

No one will accuse Sabby Piscitelli of not being passionate about football.

Need proof? Read what the rookie safety — who missed most of 2007 with a broken foot — said when asked by a reporter about his difficulty watching the Tampa Bay Buccaneers after his injury.

"I had sleepless nights for a while," Piscitelli said. "I couldn't even watch some of the games on Sunday for about a month or so. Even when I did watch, I lost my appetite, the whole day was long. It was hard. When it came to Saturday and Sunday, I was real quiet."

Quiet isn't a word many would associated with the Oregon State product, who is known as an emotional player. But when Piscitelli broke his foot on a special teams play against St. Louis on Sept. 23, he found himself in a situation he had little experience with.

The Bucs placed him on injured reserve on Sept. 26. He had nothing to do but rehab his injury and watch his teammates prepare for games without him.

At first he tried not watching the games on TV.

"I thought that was all right at first," he said.

But by Sunday's playoff loss to the New York Giants, Piscitelli was back on the sideline.

And when he left the locker room on Monday he left with no noticeable problems with his injured ankle. He said he expects to be a full go for the offseason training period, which begins in late March.

"I'm pretty much there," Piscitelli said. "The bone is about 100 percent healed. Now it's about getting back into game shape."

Piscitelli was a fixture in the locker room, despite being on injured reserve. He was also a fixture in the film room. Late in the season head coach Jon Gruden said he put Piscitelli to work as an advance scout of sorts, having the safety watch film of the next opponent and break down tendencies.

The former Beaver had a hard-hitting reputation when the Bucs selected him late in the second round of the 2007 NFL Draft (with the selection they acquired from the Indianapolis Colts for Anthony McFarland). While the 6-foot-3, 224-pound Florida native didn't earn a starting job like fellow rookie Tanard Jackson, he earned a regular role on special teams until his injury. He finished the season with two special teams tackles.

Piscitelli is hopeful, after watching Jackson, Gaines Adams and Arron Sears all make significant contributions during their rookies season, that he can make a similar contribution in 2008, which he called his "second" rookie season.

"Those are great players who all had great years," Piscitelli said. "Watching them play as rookies, I'm excited to showcase my ability next year. It's kind of my second rookie year. I want to make a name for myself. Hopefully I'm as blessed to have as good as year as they did next year."

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Matthew Postins covers the Buccaneers for Bucsblitz.com and the Charlotte (Fla.) Sun-Herald. He is a member of the Pro Football Writers Association, and his coverage of the Buccaneers has won numerous state and national awards.

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