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Rick Stroud, Greg Auman and Matt Baker

Big second-half coming from Clayton?



WR Michael Clayton has seen plenty of highs and lows in his five seasons in Tampa Bay.

He was a darling of the 2004 rookie class, setting a Bucs rookie receiving record. Then came 2005-2007 when Clayton suffered from a years-long case of the dropsies and lost Jon Gruden's faith in him.

But a funny thing has happened lately: Gruden has a renewed confidence in Clayton. And Clayton has a renewed confidence in himself.

I sat down with Michael earlier this week (you'll see the content of the interview in a story in tomorrow's St. Petersburg Times) and he made a compelling case for why this season could be different for him. Opportunity is everything at receiver, and Clayton is getting his share. He made one of the biggest plays of the game on Sunday, when he caught a 29-yard pass in overtime that took the Bucs into Kansas City territory. He seemingly shook half the Chiefs' defense along the way, too. It was good to see him making the kind of play everyone came to expect from him as a rookie.

The question now is whether Clayton can sustain this and potentially build on it. The Bucs are going to need some big plays to contend for anything this season. Clayton has made his share in the past. Maybe he can make them again.

If nothing else, he's certainly motivated.

"There's definitely something to prove," he said. "I've been here five years. I want to be here. I want to win a Super Bowl. It's one of the most important things in my life right now. As a player, you just have to go out and on that field and take it by any means necessary. That's what it takes to win a championship."

[Last modified: Wednesday, May 26, 2010 3:16pm]


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