Kwon Alexander isn’t the only Buccaneers linebacker who suffered a torn ACL on Sunday, as an MRI revealed Jack Cichy will miss the rest of the 2018 season with the same injury, according to Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times (Twitter link).
This marks the second torn ACL of Cichy’s football career, as he previously suffered the injury in August 2017, just before the start of his final collegiate season at Wisconsin. Instead of taking a medical waiver and staying in Madison, Cichy entered the 2018 draft, and eventually was selected in the sixth round.
Cichy entered Sunday’s contest after Alexander had already gone down, playing outside linebacker while Adarius Taylor shifted to the middle to replace Alexander. With only four healthy linebackers — Taylor, Lavonte David, Cameron Lynch, and Devante Bond — still on their roster, the Buccaneers will need to make an addition this week. Kendell Beckwith is eligible to return from the non-football injury list, but given that he’s yet to practice, he’s probably not a realistic option.
The Buccaneers seem to have at least one candidate in mind to fill a linebacker void. Riley Bullough, who split the 2017 season between Tampa’s active and practice squad, was in town for a workout and physical, tweets Greg Auman of The Athletic. He reached an injury settlement with the Bucs earlier this year, and is now eligible to be re-signed.
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Despite starting 11 games last season, Lions running back Ameer Abdullah only compiled 552 rushing yards on 165 carries. After three seasons in the league, the former second-rounder was hoping for a larger role, and he acknowledged that he was frustrated with his workload during an appearance on Michael Rapaport’s podcast.
“It’s frustrating, especially coming from Nebraska where I was the guy, I knew I was going to get the ball at least 20 times a game,” Abdullah said (via Michael David Smith of ProFootballTalk.com). “For me, it’s not necessarily getting a certain number of touches. It’s getting meaningful touches and getting into a rhythm. That’s where it gets kind of frustrating.”
The 24-year-old might not get his wish in 2018. Detroit did hire a new head coach in Matt Patricia, but Jim Bob Cooter stuck around as offensive coordinator. The Lions also signed veteran running back LeGarrette Blount, and they used a second-round pick on Kerryon Johnson.
Let’s take a look at some other notes from around the NFC…
- We learned last week that Giants offensive lineman Ereck Flowers was upset that the team signed free agent lineman Nate Solder. Giants head coach Pat Shurmur told Zach Braziller of the New York Post that he’s been in contact with the 2015 first-rounder, although he wouldn’t say when the lineman was expected to attend offseason workouts (Twitter link). The Giants signed Solder to a landmark deal this offseason and gave him Flowers’ position, and the team subsequently tried to shop their now-disgruntled lineman.
- The Seahawks did lose several big-name free agents this offseason, including tight end Jimmy Graham, defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson, and wideout Paul Richardson. However, as Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times writes, the organization isn’t expected to receive any compensatory picks in next year’s draft. Part of the reasoning has to do with the team’s free agent additions, as Seattle signed tight end Ed Dickson, wideout Jaron Brown, and linebacker Barkevious Mingo (thus offsetting the losses). The Seahawks may have gotten some compensation had offensive linemen Oday Aboushi and Luke Joeckel, running back Eddie Lacy, kicker Blair Walsh and linebacker Michael Wilhoite signed elsewhere, but the deadline for compensatory draft picks was on Wednesday.
- Buccaneers rookie linebacker Jack Cichy is already practicing with his new squad, writes Greg Auman of TampaBay.com. The sixth-round pick is nine months removed from surgery on a torn ACL in his right knee, an injury that caused him to miss the 2017 season (and, vicariously, caused his draft stock to fall). “It was fun to be back out here. Everything felt good,” said Cichy, who wore a brace on his right knee. “It felt crisp and felt good just to get back in the flow of things and get acclimated here.”
- When eying undrafted rookies who could contribute to the Packers this season, ESPN’s Rob Demovsky says we should “follow the money.” Last season, five members of Green Bay’s undrafted class finished the season on the active roster, and four of those players had received the highest-possible signing bonus. This year, the Packers gave $6K signing bonuses (the top possible amount) to five of their 16 undrafted signings: offensive lineman Jacob Alsadek, quarterback Tim Boyle, center Austin Davis, defensive tackle Tyler Lancaster, and defensive end Conor Sheehy.
Here are the rest of Thursday’s draft pick accords:
- The Buccaneers signed one of their three second-round picks in cornerback M.J. Stewart (No. 53 overall), Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times tweets. They also agreed to terms with their final three picks — Kansas State safety Jordan Whitehead (Round 4, pick 117), Penn wide receiver Justin Watson (Round 5, pick 144) and Wisconsin linebacker Jack Cichy (Round 6, pick 202).
- Five-sixths of this Falcons draft class is now signed. Atlanta agreed to a deal with third-round defensive tackle Deadrin Senat (No. 90 overall out of South Florida). After already signing four other selections, only first-rounder Calvin Ridley remains unsigned.
- The Steelers signed one of the safeties they drafted last month in agreeing to terms with Penn State product Marcus Allen (Round 5, pick 148). Pittsburgh also signed Alabama defensive tackle Joshua Frazier (Round 7, pick 246).
- The Jaguars came to terms with four of their seven draftees — the final four Jacksonville selected in this year’s draft. N.C. State tackle Will Richardson (Round 4, pick 129), Nebraska quarterback Tanner Lee (Round 6, pick 203), Wisconsin linebacker Leon Jacobs (Round 7, pick 230) and Mississippi State punter Logan Cooke (Round 7, pick 247) all signed their first Jags contracts Thursday. Cooke has a clear path toward the Jags’ punter job since the team released Brad Nortman two days after the draft.
- Beginning their signings, the Titans agreed to deals with half of their four-man draft class. Tennessee signed Arizona cornerback Dane Cruikshank (Round 5, pick 152) and Washington State quarterback Luke Falk (Round 6, pick 199). The latter will attempt to develop behind Marcus Mariota and Blaine Gabbert.
- Following suit in bringing aboard the back half of their draft, the Bills agreed to deals with four rookies. Jacksonville State safety Siran Neal, Virginia Tech guard Wyatt Teller (Round 5, pick 166), Clemson wide receiver Ray-Ray McCloud (Round 6, pick 187) and North Carolina wideout Austin Proehl (Round 7, pick 255) signed their initial Buffalo deals.
- Second-round Panthers pick Donte Jackson (No. 55 overall) signed his rookie contract. Indiana tight end Ian Thomas (Round 4, pick 101), Ole Miss defensive end Marquis Haynes (Round 4, pick 136), Maryland linebacker Jermaine Carter Jr. (Round 5, pick 161) and Miami defensive tackle Kendrick Norton (Round 7, pick 242) followed suit.
Florida State safety Derwin James spent Wednesday meeting with the Buccaneers and will sit down with the Packers on Thursday, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter). James, the No. 9 ranked safety in the draft per NFL.com’s Daniel Jeremiah, offers versatility with experience at both safety spots, nickel cornerback, and even outside linebacker. He arguably performs better when playing closer to the line, so the team that drafts him will likely look to continue using him in multiple roles.
Here’s more NFL Draft news:
- NC State defensive end Bradley Chubb met with the Buccaneers on Wednesday and is visiting the Giants on Thursday, Rapoport tweets. Chubb has another top 5 team visit next week, Rapoport notes, but he did not specify the club.
- Wisconsin linebacker Jack Cichy was with the Vikings on Wednesday, Rapoport tweets. Cichy suffered an ACL tear in the summer that prevented him from seeing the field in 2017. Before the injury, he was considered a first-round prospect and he could still come off the board in Day 2 if he demonstrates that he is healthy.
- Ohio State cornerback Denzel Ward is visiting the 49ers on Thursday, according to Rapoport (on Twitter). The Niners pick No. 9 overall and he could be a possibility for San Francisco there. SF will also meet with Georgia linebacker Lorenzo Carter.
- The Bears met with a pair of top defensive backs in Ward and Minkah Fitzpatrick (Alabama), Rapoport tweets. Fitzpatrick previously visited the Buccaneers. The Bears own the No. 8 pick in the draft, so they could be in range for both players.
- The Vikings met with University of Texas offensive tackle Connor Williams and Notre Dame tackle Mike McGlinchey, Rapoport tweets. Jeremiah has Williams ranked as the No. 21 prospect in this year’s draft while McGlinchey is at No. 35.
- Alabama linebacker Rashaan Evans visited the Dolphins (No. 11) this week, Rapoport tweets. Evans, who played all over in Bama’s front seven, offers strong coverage against both tight ends and running backs.
- Alabama defensive tackle Da’Ron Payne is meeting with the Falcons, according to Rapoport.
- The Buccaneers, who own the No. 7 pick in the first round, had former Notre Dame guard Quenton Nelson in for a visit on Wednesday, Adam Caplan of ESPN.com tweets.
Wisconsin linebacker Jack Cichy was eligible for a medical redshirt in 2018. Instead, he’s going pro.
“At the end of the day, whatever comes next for me, I mainly just want to make Wisconsin proud,” Cichy wrote in a piece for The Players’ Tribune. “I want to be the next guy people point to as someone who came to Madison as an unknown, worked his tail off and then became a mainstay in the NFL. I want to be like Jim Leonhard and J.J. and so many other guys who came here with a far-fetched dream and then achieved greatness. I want to uphold that legacy. But mainly, I just want to make all of Wisconsin proud. I’m a Badger for life.”
Cichy suffered an ACL tear in the summer that prevented him from seeing the field. That was tough news for Wisconsin fans to swallow but also a disappointment for the many NFL scouts who had him on the radar. Before the injury, Cichy was viewed as a first-round prospect. If he can demonstrate that he has fully recovered from the tear, he’ll likely garner top-32 consideration once again.
The 6’2″, 223-pound athlete began his collegiate career as a walk-on. The undersized scrapper turned out to be a star for the Badgers and eventually became a team captain. In 2016, he had 60 tackles and seven tackles for a loss before a torn pectoral muscle cost him the second half of the season. Thanks to injuries, Cichy has not seen the field since Oct. 22, 2016.
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Wisconsin linebacker Jack Cichy will miss the entire 2017 season with a torn ACL, the program announced in a press release. Cichy is considered to be one of the most talented college linebackers in the country and, before the injury, he was viewed as a likely first round pick in the 2018 draft.
“You hate it for Jack,” coach Paul Chryst said. “You only get so many chances to play this game and you never want to see a guy miss any of those opportunities. He’s one of the leaders of our team and I know he’ll be a big part of what we do moving forward this season.”
Cichy already did a redshirt year, so he’ll need a special medical waiver if he wants to return to campus for the 2018 season. If he doesn’t go that route or he doesn’t get approval from the NCAA, he’ll have to try his luck in the 2018 NFL Draft while surrounded by question marks and a lack of recent game film.
The 6’2″, 223-pound athlete came to the Badgers as an undersized scrapper. Although he began his college career as a walk-on, he turned out to be a star for the Badgers and served as a team captain.
Last year, he had 60 tackles and seven tackles for a loss before a torn pectoral muscle cost him the second half of the season.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.