New punter Sam Paulescu and Clifton Smith have history
Punter Sam Paulescu may have never been to Florida before he signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers this week.
But Paulescu is no stranger to Bucs Pro Bowl kick returner Clifton Smith, whom he welcomed to the NFL last year with a big hit on Smith's first punt return. It was last Oct 26 in Dallas, and Smith was into his return when Paulescu knocked him on his back.
Paulescu, reminded of the hit Wednesday, laughed about it, said his former college teammate at Oregon State, Bucs WR Sammie Stroughter, brought it up to him when he first came to the building. Check out the hit here.
"I know the guys have been kind of giving him a hard time, messing with him a little bit," Paulescu said. "I told this to everybody, I said, 'Look, I might have nailed him, but it hurt me more than it hurt him. My neck for the next four days, I was hurting....He's a great athlete and he got a great punt return regardless."
Paulescu, 25, is replacing Dirk Johnson, who was put on injured reserve due to a hamstring injury. It's been an interesting year for Paulescu, who has been out of football for most of it after punting for the Cowboys last season. Paulescu, who has averaged 42.4 yards per punt in 61 attempts, didn't attend an NFL training camp, and has appeared in just one game (for Washington).
But Paulescu said the off-time was fortuitous, as it gave him more time to spend with his wife, Laura, whom he married in February.
"Not a lot of people get to spend their first nine months not working and spending time with their wife," he said. "So that's a huge positive for me, and our family, and you know, we're very excited. I told my wife, I said, 'Babe, just give me a year, if nothing happens this year, we'll move on with life. But God has opened some amazing doors. I've been training, I've been ready all year round and God opened this door and I'm excited to be here."
- JOE SMITH