New Bucs wide receiver Yamon Figurs plans on making the most his opportunity in Tampa Bay. The Bucs want to use his 4.3 speed to stretch the field on offense. He could also see some time on special teams.
Yamon Figurs is hoping his third team proves to be the charm in his NFL career.
The Bucs signed Figurs Tuesday just two days after watching Bucs starting wide receivers Antonio Bryant and Michael Clayton drop passes in a 33-14 loss to the Eagles.
A former third-round draft pick, Figurs had a two-year stint with Baltimore and a brief stay with Detroit before joining Tampa Bay.
Figurs' tenure in Baltimore ended shortly after he sustained a broken foot in training camp in 2008. Detroit was interested in re-signing Figurs, but the receiver chose to sign with the Bucs instead.
"I'm just coming in here trying to make the most of my opportunity and play to the best of my ability," said Figurs. "They haven't explained [my role] to me yet, but I'm just going out there and practicing hard and doing everything they want me to do."
The 5-foot-11, 185-pound Figurs has just three career catches for 86 yards (28.7 avg.) and one touchdown, but the Bucs plan to use his 4.3 speed to help stretch the field on offense in practice and on game days.
"We wanted to get a fast receiver in here that brought a different element than we had," Bucs head coach Raheem Morris said of signing Figurs. "He's going to help us out a lot. He's already simulating [Carolina wide receiver] Steve Smith a little bit, although you can't necessarily simulate what Steve Smith does. Yamon is giving our starting DBs a look at speed that you can't simulate in practice with just anybody. He might be able to help us and be a contributor. He can definitely play special teams as well."
Figurs, 27, is reunited with Bucs quarterback Josh Freeman, whom he played with at Kansas State. Figurs' best season came in 2006 when he caught 28 passes for 418 yards (14.9 avg.) and three scores from Freeman.
The Bucs decided to sign Figurs over the other four veteran receivers that worked out for Tampa Bay. Ironically, Figurs was catching passes from Freeman during the workout. Figurs said he noticed a difference in the 2009 first-round pick.
"He's gotten better," Figurs said of Freeman. "From the last time I saw him to now he's got a stronger arm."
Freeman didn't notice much of a change in Figurs, but that's a good thing.
"He brings speed. He's a speed guy," Freeman said of Figurs. "He had a good workout yesterday and the coaches felt like he could help us. I threw to him. I threw to all the guys [that worked out]."
Figurs, 27, made a name for himself at K-State as an explosive return specialist. He averaged 7.9 yards per punt return and 23.3 yards per kickoff return as a pro. He has longs of 75 and 93 yards as a punt and kickoff returner, respectively.
"Yeah, I expect to get a lot of returns. This is the NFL, man," said Figurs.
But Figurs may have to wait his turn to return kicks for the Bucs, who have a Pro Bowl return specialist in running back Clifton Smith. Smith currently is averaging 9.1 yards per punt return and 28.1 yards per kickoff return.
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