When you’ve played in the same city, for the same team and with the same quarterback for all nine years you’ve been in the NFL, you tend to grow a little attached to those things.
So it was for tight end Dallas Clark.
The Indianapolis Colts and quarterback Peyton Manning became security blankets to him. Now, Clark hopes he’s found a new sense of security with the Buccaneers and quarterback Josh Freeman.
"That’s pretty much what this is about,’’ said Clark, who participated in his first Bucs workout Tuesday, one day after signing a one-year, $2.7 million contract.
"I loved my time at Indy. The fans are great. They have a great organization and people there. But when they say you are no longer needed, you just move on. So, it’s not about looking back for me. It’s about how can I help Tampa Bay and go forward."
Tampa Bay coach Greg Schiano, was looking forward as well, uninterested in discussing the team’s decision to get rid of Freeman’s old security blanket, tight end Kellen Winslow.
The Bucs’ leading pass catcher each of his three seasons in Tampa, Winslow was traded late Monday to the Seahawks. The move, Winslow said, was prompted by a "disagreement’’ he and Schiano had about Winslow’s offseason workout schedule.
But if Schiano’s dissatisfaction with Winslow’s desire to work out primarily in his native San Diego rather than the team facility had anything to do with the trade, Schiano wouldn’t say.
"There is a business side to this game at this level, and I’m going to kind of leave it at that," Schiano said. "We are going to talk about the guys that are Bucs now. I’d like to focus on the guys that are here."
That includes Clark.
A first-round draft pick of the Colts in 2003, a Super Bowl champion in 2006 and a Pro Bowler in 2009, Clark has 427 career receptions for 4,887 yards (11.4 yards a catch) and 46 touchdowns. His best season was 2009, when he caught 100 passes for 1,106 yards and 10 touchdowns. He also caught 11 TDs in 2007.
Clark, however, fell on hard times the past two seasons. A wrist injury cost him 10 games in 2010 and a leg injury cost him five games in 2011. Clark, however, is confident he is recovered from those injuries and on the brink of a comeback season.
So is Schiano.
"I believe, wholeheartedly, that he is going to return to his form and play the way he is capable,’’ Schiano said. "I think he can do everything we are going to ask him to do.’’
Clark isn’t sure exactly what that will be. His role has not been defined and he was given no assurances by Schiano or anyone else he will be a starter here, Clark said.
"I think I’d be a little hesitant if (Schiano) had promised me anything,’’ said Clark, who was limited to 71 receptions the past two seasons. "He’s the type of man who knows time will tell. So, right now, it’s a matter of learning and seeing where we’re at when decisions need to be made.’’
Clark made his decision to join the Bucs after talking with a remnant from his old security blanket, quarterback Dan Orlovsky. The former Colts backup gave Schiano and the Bucs a ringing endorsement.
"He had nothing but positive things to say about the coaching staff and the organization all the way down to the players,’’ Clark said of Orlovskly, who signed a free-agent deal with the Bucs during the offseason. "It was good to have somebody like that to bounce questions off of.’’
It’s good to have options, too, and Clark said he had several. Instead of rushing to find a new team, he took his time.
"There was a lot of just being patient with it, asking a lot of questions and, bottom line, feeling most comfortable,’’ he said. "And where I felt right is down here. It just felt really comfortable.’’