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Rick Stroud, Greg Auman and Matt Baker

Bucs' Clifton Smith battling in tight competition



Running back Clifton Smith said he plans to get back on the field this week after missing last week's practices and the preseason opener with a hamstring injury.

He was on the field today for a second straight practice and is working through the fatigue associated with missing several days of work.

"I’m going to definitely go this week," Smith said. "I was counting back and it’s been about nine months since I last played in a game (he went on IR last season after two concussions). I’m excited and I’m ready to get back out there and play. I’m tired of sitting out and watching my teammates have fun."

But Smith is attempting to fight off some competition, too.

In the backfield, he has stiff competition from Kareem Huggins, who has probably overtaken Smith for now and is a threat to No. 2 Derrick Ward, too. And even as a return man, Smith acknowledged he has work to do in his effort to retain his kick- and punt-return duties. That's where he's fighting with accomplished returners Sammie Stroughter and Micheal Spurlock as well as newcomer Preston Parker.

"My spot is not locked up," Smith said. "I've got some wolves back there hunting. When I came in, I had to hunt. When Micheal Spurlock was here, I was hunting. When Dexter Jackson was here, I had to hunt. Now, I have guys like Sammie Stroughter, Micheal Spurlock is back and Preston Parker is over here making a bunch of great plays.

"So we have a bunch of guys here who are ready to hunt. That’s why I’m going to go out there and give it everything I got so at the end of the day, if it doesn’t work out for me, at least I can say I gave it my all."

Smith has his work cut out for him. The Bucs will have some decisions to make at both running back and on special teams. If Smith offers nothing more than his return ability, it will be harder to justify his roster spot.

That's why what he does in the next couple of preseason games will be critical.

[Last modified: Tuesday, August 17, 2010 1:41pm]


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