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Rick Stroud, Greg Auman and Matt Baker

Clifton Smith has strange inflammation but expected back this week



Running back/returner Clifton Smith missed Saturday night's preseason game with a rare sort of inflammation that has been likened to gout.

It appears it's not completely clear what is causing the inflammation in Smith's knee, but it obviously is subsiding because the Bucs expect Smith to return to the field later this week. The team is off today and Monday but will practice again on Tuesday.

When Smith does make it back, it won't be a moment too soon. He missed last week's preseason opener, too, and he admits he's in a fight to make the final roster just two years removed from his Pro Bowl appearance as a rookie.

Smith is fighting off legitimate threats from receiver Micheal Spurlock and running back Kareem Huggins -- two young players with respected return ability who also are progressing nicely as position players. Smith, meanwhile, has a history of fumbling when used as a running back.

Smith is running out of time, too. The Bucs are down to one meaningful preseason game -- next Saturday against the Jaguars. When the Bucs play their preseason finale the following week at Houston, that game will be dominated by backups and fringe players.

[Last modified: Sunday, August 22, 2010 12:36pm]


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