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weinberger83

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: November 26, 2008, 03:05:20 PM

Great read on ESPN about our boy Peanut. Enjoy and Happy Thanksgiving

With a Dorito on his shoulder, Smith is running wild

November 26, 2008 1:31 PM

Posted by ESPN.com's Pat Yasinskas

TAMPA, Fla. -- Now that he has the qualifications, it's time for Clifton Smith to reveal the secret of how to make it big in the NFL as an undrafted free agent.
    
    Cliff Welch/Icon SMI
    Tampa Bay Bucs return man Clifton Smith is slowly lifting the Dorito off his shoulder.

"You've just got to come in with a Dorito on your shoulder,'' Smith said Wednesday.

That's a different -- and very creative -- way of saying you need to have a chip on your shoulder. It's worked perfectly for the Tampa Bay return man, who wasn't even on the roster until Oct. 25, but suddenly has become one of the biggest rookie sensations in the league.

In just four games, Smith has made history and erased it. The Bucs long had one of the worst return games in the NFL. That suddenly has changed as Smith has become the first player in franchise history to return a punt and a kickoff for a touchdown.

His 70-yard punt return for a touchdown helped the Bucs take control of Sunday's game in Detroit. Smith already set a franchise record with a 97-yard kickoff return against Kansas City in Week 9. He's averaging 18.1 yards on punt returns and 30.3 yards on kickoff returns.

That's exactly the kind of explosive return man the Bucs were looking for back before this year's draft. But they weren't looking at Smith.

They used a second-round draft pick on Appalachian State receiver/return man Dexter Jackson and some people in the organization said he'd become the second coming of Carolina's Steve Smith. But Jackson struggled mightily in that role.

That's why the Bucs elevated Smith from the practice squad in October and threw him into the return role. The fact Smith was even on Tampa Bay's practice squad (on any practice squad, really) can be traced back to that big Dorito.

Back in college at Fresno State, Smith's career almost ended. Smith, also a running back, tore up his knee while trying to catch a pass in a 2005 game. Along with his ACL, Smith also tore his lateral collateral ligament and a hamstring tendon.

He couldn't walk for two months, couldn't run for a year and was out of football for almost two full years.

"My knee was swollen up so bad that it looked like I had two knees in one,'' Smith said. "I couldn't walk for about two months. The rehab was terrible. You wouldn't wish that upon anybody.''

Although Smith returned to rush for more than 600 yards in 2007, the knee injury and concerns about his size (5-foot-8 and 190 pounds) made him a forgotten man in the draft.

He wasn't even one of those free agents who gets calls from a bunch of teams the moment the draft ends.

"Nobody called the first two days,'' Smith said. "On the third day, I got the call from Tampa Bay. They were the first to call and I was like, "I'm not turning down anything. I'm just trying to make my dream come true''. As soon as I landed here in Tampa, the 49ers actually called and I was like, "Man, it's too late. I'm already here''.''

Despite Smith showing some promise in training camp and the preseason, the Bucs had a full stable of running backs and seemed committed to Jackson in the return game. They released Smith and brought him back to the practice squad.

You know the rest of the story from there. But Smith said it's too early to say he's made it after only four games. He doesn't even have a nameplate on his locker yet and that means the Dorito still can fit.

"It just means it's got to get even bigger,'' Smith said. "You've got to super-size it now. Now, you've got to show everybody what you're capable of doing.''


Go Buc's

Tampa-Two

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#1 : November 26, 2008, 03:19:26 PM

Great read, thanks!


keeponbucn

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#2 : November 26, 2008, 03:30:35 PM

It's great but his fumbles are getting insane. He has put the ball on the turf in every game he's played in, that is turrible

bradentonian

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#3 : November 26, 2008, 03:31:44 PM

They used a second-round draft pick on Appalachian State receiver/return man Dexter Jackson and some people in the organization said he'd become the second coming of Carolina's Steve Smith. But Jackson struggled mightily in that role.



Ummm...wow


keeponbucn

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#4 : November 26, 2008, 03:33:12 PM

They used a second-round draft pick on Appalachian State receiver/return man Dexter Jackson and some people in the organization said he'd become the second coming of Carolina's Steve Smith. But Jackson struggled mightily in that role.



Ummm...wow

obvious mistake but I'll still want to see how the kid adjusts over the next year, doesn't look good though

Ladyfan

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#5 : November 26, 2008, 05:07:13 PM

What a great kid.  Puleeeez lose the fumbles we need ya and we like ya!  You better marry that football!!!!!!!


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#6 : November 26, 2008, 05:12:58 PM

Guy has been great, just the fumbles must stop now. He won't lose his job, but he needs to stop laying the football on the ground. It would be great for him to return one this weekend.  He is also humble which is always a plus. The guy has moves and we are lucky to have found him.

michael89156

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#7 : November 26, 2008, 06:14:19 PM

Love the dude...............polar opposite style compared to Duxster.



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#8 : November 26, 2008, 06:24:22 PM

Give the guy a damn nametag... geez. He's earned it!!

HeyTampaBay

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#9 : November 26, 2008, 06:38:25 PM

**CENSORED**y nacho, or cool ranch?

Ladyfan

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#10 : November 27, 2008, 11:08:01 AM

Saw Peanut on Toyota Connection last night.  He is a very fun, cool guy.  He is never going to give up.  Says he's 5'8"  and been teased about his size all his life.  They even said he was just a bit over being a legal midget.  He said he isn't afraid of anything.  And never was.  When he takes a punt or a kick off he concentrates on catching and THEN running.  And he totally trusts his team mates to block for him so he just goes for it.  He is definitely the not-Dexter.

They showed some clips of his runs.  He definitely has an incredible first step.  Its like he's launching himself.

Also told a great story about Ronde.  After the game he last fumbled in, Ronde took him aside and said that he had to talk to Tiki because Tiki had the same problems and finally fixed them.
He told him don't worry about the fumbles all the great players have em for awhile.  Then, Ronde calls Tiki on the phone and hands it to Smith.  Tiki told him not to worry, gave him tips and everything.  Peanut says the one thing Tiki told him that he will never forget is that he'd rather lose his arm, than lose the ball!

How about that for class from Ronde and Tiki?  Love it.

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