It’s easy to look at a preseason game and say it doesn’t matter. The starters only play for a bit and everything is pretty vanilla. No exhibition game is going to be mistaken for an instant classic.
But these games are still significant to many. For some players, the preseason is their first taste of the NFL. For others, it’s a chance to compete for a roster spot. But in the case of second-year Buccaneers linebacker Jack Cichy, Friday’s win over the Dolphins at Raymond James Stadium was noteworthy because it was his first football game in nearly 10 months.
Cichy, a sixth-round pick out of Wisconsin in 2018, has had his share of injury issues in the past. While playing for the Badgers in 2016 and 2017, he dealt with a pectoral injury and a knee problem. His struggle to stay healthy in college is what led to him still being available in the sixth round of last year’s draft, and the Bucs were more than happy to bring him on board. Unfortunately, he tore his ACL against the Browns on Oct. 21 and missed the rest of his rookie season.
But after making his return to the practice field in early August, he saw live action once again in Friday’s win over Miami. He saw a lot of snaps and looked solid for Tampa Bay throughout the night, making plays all over the field. The 23-year-old finished his night tied for the team lead in tackles with five (three solo) and a pass defended. That pass defended was nearly an interception, one of many dropped picks on the night by the defense.
All things considered, it was a triumphant return for Cichy on Friday night. No, no one is ready to crown him a starter. He probably isn’t even guaranteed a spot on the final 53-man roster. But he stood out on Friday, and that’s a positive for a guy playing in his first game in 10 months.
Cichy is worth keeping an eye on over the next two weeks. His next chance to make an impression will come next Friday at Raymond James Stadium when the Bucs host the Browns.