New Bucs tight end Dallas Clark took a few minutes to speak to the local media after Tuesday's OTA workout, and discussed why he chose Tampa Bay over two other teams, what his role will be and his overall health.
While no one knows what type of numbers new Bucs tight end Dallas Clark will put up in 2012, or if he will be an upgrade to the receiving corps, the former Colts star already has a huge head start in the personality department over Kellen Winslow, who was traded last Monday night to Seattle.
Clark spent 10 minutes in the hot sun just off the practice field after the daily OTA workout with his new team to speak to the media.
Clark was asked if he was still in shock of not being a Colt after nine years in Indianapolis.
“No, it hit home a long time ago,” Clark said. “When they called and said ‘you’re no longer a Colt,’ that is pretty much when it hit.
“But yeah, finding a new comfort blanket, that’s about what this is. You sign up day one for this. I loved my time at Indy – great fans, great organization and people – but when they say you are no longer needed, you just move on. So it’s not looking back, it’s not this and that. It’s how can I help Tampa Bay and go forward.”
After just two days in Tampa, Clark is still trying to feel his way around his new team, and has no idea yet exactly how he will be used by offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan.
“That’s all to be determined,” Clark said. “I have no idea. It’s coming to work and working hard every day and letting that stuff handle itself. We’ll work on that down the road. Right now it’s learning the offense and trying to figure out where I need to be. But that’s coming. But there are no promises in this league.
“I’d be hesitant if he (Schiano) promised me anything. And he’s the type of man that didn’t because he’s the type of man that knows time will tell. It’s learning and seeing where we’re at when decisions need to be made.”
Clark admitted he doesn’t know a lot about Bucs’ quarterback Josh Freeman and has yet to be able to form an opinion.
“I haven’t even focused on that yet. I’m still trying to figure out where I am supposed to be. He's done a great job right now. In a few months I will be able to answer that question.
“Right now I am trying to figure out where I belong. I don’t even know there is anybody else on the team. I’m just focused on looking at the tight end and where he is lined up and what his responsibility is. Trying to hone it in and try to be as focused as I can be on the offense.”
Despite having his last two seasons cut short by injuries, Clark, who has 427 career receptions for 4,887 yards and 46 touchdowns, never contemplated retirement.
“Injuries are part of the game and I’ve had a couple of down years, if you will,” Clark said. “But it is what it is. It’s not slowing me down and I’m not feeling like I’m hampered by anything. I still feel I can perform every day and that’s what I’m working hard to do.
“No one asked me if I was done playing – and I’m not done playing – so that was … I don’t know where that came from. Just because I’m not part of a team doesn’t mean I’m done playing.
"As for the proving part, you’re an NFL football player, so every day you’re having to prove yourself. The second you stop proving yourself you’re out these doors. So you learn that day one. You’re always proving yourself. That’s the beauty of this league. You don’t have time to just say, ‘Oh, I’ll take this week off.’ You (have to) bring you’re "A" game every day. That’s what makes guys special that stay in this league a long time. Because to do it day in and day out, year after year and to find those true pros, it’s special. So I’m always trying to work to be one of those.”
Head coach Greg Schiano refused to talk about the Kellen Winslow situation but was more than happy to share his thoughts on Clark.
"I think he is definitely a proven player,” Schiano said. “He has had some health issues as of late, some things that have kept him from playing at the level of football he played earlier in his career, but I believe wholeheartedly that he is going to return to his form and play the way he is capable. And is what we need. I think he can do everything we are going to ask him to do. And it is really good to have a strong veteran presence in that tight end room as well.”
Clark acknowledged he knew very little about the Buccaneers prior to being courted by the team, and explained what went into the decision to choose Tampa Bay over the Kansas City Chiefs and New England Patriots.
“A lot of things," he said. "This is all new to me so I don’t know if there’s a right way to do it. There’s definitely not a guide on how to pick a team. The best thing about it is having options. Three teams is better than no teams as a player. There was a lot of just being patient with it, asking a lot of questions and, bottom line, feeling the most comfortable. That’s where I felt right is down here. It felt really comfortable.
“It’s a great opportunity, great team, great organization and it’s an honor to be a part of it.”
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