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Rick Stroud, Greg Auman and Matt Baker

Dallas Clark says injuries are behind him

Dallas Clark knew the question was coming and made no attempt to duck it. After the former Colts star signed with the Bucs on Monday, there was no bigger question about his ability to contribute than his health, something that has been under much scrutiny since his release earlier this year.

Clark has missed 15 games in the past two seasons with an assortment of injuries, raising questions about whether his career might be over.

Clark scoffed at the notion.

“Details matter, because when (reporters) don’t have details, you make things up like I’m done playing,” said Clark, a former All-Pro tight end. “No one asked me if I was done playing, and I’m not done playing.”

Well, then.

Clark, 32, suggested he’ll be motivated given the doubts about his abilities. Given that the Bucs released Kellen Winslow and signed Clark as a replacement, it seems they have significant confidence in him.

“Every day you’re proving yourself,” he said. “The second you stop, you’re out that door. You learn that Day 1. You’re always proving yourself. . . You don’t have time to take this week off. You bring your A game every day.

“That’s what makes guys so special who stay in the league a long time. To do it day in and day out for years and years, finding those true pros is special. So, I always work to be one of those.”

What will Clark’s role be? He’ll likely be the featured tight end while Luke Stocker – the team’s 2011 fourth-round pick – looks to be the likely blocking tight end.

That said, Clark said coach Greg Schiano made no commitments in terms of his role.

“Right now it’s about learning the offense and figuring out where I need to be,” Clark said. “There’s no promises in this league. I’d be hesitant if (Schiano) promised me anything, and he’s the type of man that didn’t because he knows time will tell. It’s learning and seeing where we’re at when those decisions need to be made.”

So long as he stays healthy, the Bucs think Clark can excel here. He’s just three seasons removed from a career season in 2009, when he helped the Colts reach the Super Bowl. Schiano said the Bucs did extensive research on Clark’s background to determine his physical state and reached a comfort level.

Clark says the injuries are behind him.

“Injuries are part of the game and I’ve had a couple down years with injury,” he said. “But it is what it is. I’m not hampered by it. It’s not slowing me down. I still feel I can come out and perform every day.”

[Last modified: Tuesday, May 22, 2012 1:52pm]


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