Clayton's Effort Getting Noticed
TBO.comLAKE BUENA VISTA - Michael Clayton has looked like a reborn wide receiver in this camp. He is running his routes better, securing the ball better and making more plays. And it's not just the media and the fans filling the stands at the Disney Wide World of Sports complex who have noticed.
The Tampa Tribune
Published: July 31, 2008
The Tampa Tribune
Published: July 31, 2008
The man whose opinion matters most - Coach Jon Gruden - has noticed, too.
"What I've seen is four or five consecutive days where Clayton has put his fist down on the ground and said, 'I'm a go-to receiver,'" said Gruden, who is sometimes slow to heap praise on players this early in camp. "If he continues to do that he's going to be a big part of this offense again."
That kind of effort would earn him the starting flanker job, too. Clayton is in a battle with Ike Hilliard, Maurice Stovall and Antonio Bryant for that spot, but none of those candidates has flashed the way the seemingly rejuvenated Clayton has.
The difference, Clayton says, is his health. For one of the few times in his career, he is of sound body. Having been that way all offseason, Clayton had a chance to prepare for this camp like no other. He obviously took advantage of that opportunity.
"I'm looking at his body, and I think he's been working out," Bucs receivers coach Richard Mann said. "I'm watching him run and it's obvious he's been working out. Training camp is grueling, and when you haven't worked out, it catches up to you. That's an indication to me he's been working out."
It's also an indication that Clayton realizes he's running out of time to impress the Bucs. His contract is up after this year, so Clayton must act now to save his career. Gruden believes he is.
"He's focused," Gruden said. "He's all business, and he's running all kinds of routes. He's running inside routes, outside routes and showing very good stamina. I'll be honest with you, we've missed him."
White Making Smooth Switch To Left End
Imagine being right-handed and suddenly having to learn how to throw a ball, swing a golf club or brush your teeth with your left hand. That's pretty much what Bucs DE Greg White is having to do this training camp.
White has played right end his entire career, but the Bucs have him working primarily on the left side this year. It's been a rough go for the former Arena League standout, but White is getting through with fairly good results.
"He's handled it very well," Bucs defensive line coach Todd Wash said. "In our base package he has been over there on the left side and we're starting to see the pass rush moves that we saw from the right side last year.
"He's also getting reps on the right side, but we're really concentrating him on the left side, and he's shown some really good flashes. The transition has come along really well to this point."
White, who led the Bucs with eight sacks in 2007, usually flashes as a pass rusher. As a left end, however, he has to flash at least occasionally as a run stopper, too. That has made the transition to the left side even more difficult.
Stopping the run has never been White's forte, and it's not like he's done a lot of it the last few years. In the Arena League, teams seldom run the ball, so ends aren't accustomed to fighting tight ends and tackles all at once.
"It has been a learning experience for me, but I feel like I'm doing all right with it," White said. "I just have to get to the point where I'm comfortable there, and I think I'm slowly getting there."
Bucs Hall of Fame DE Lee Roy Selmon dropped by Bucs camp Wednesday. In honor of the former University of Oklahoma product, the Bucs ran what is known as the Oklahoma drill.
That's a drill in which a defensive lineman is asked to shed an offensive lineman and tackle a ball carrier, and it's one of the more spirited drills teams conduct. Wednesday's drill proved to be as spirited as they come.
After announcing the drill by playing the "Monday Night Football" theme music, the Bucs saw their defense win the day, with DE Kevin Carter turning in the big play by tossing Donald Penn aside before slamming ball carrier Kenneth Darby to the ground.
The Bucs followed that with a goal-line drill in which the offense won back some of its pride. After a slow start (QB Luke McCown stumbled while taking the first snap), the offense scored four touchdowns in six tries from the 1-yard line.
"I was pleased with that," Gruden said.