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New Bucs end Will Clarke reunited with Hayes, Tandy

New Bucs defensive end Will Clarke, shown playing for the Bengals against Tampa Bay in the 2015 preseason, had four sacks last year with Cincinnati.

JIM DAMASKE | TIMES

New Bucs defensive end Will Clarke, shown playing for the Bengals against Tampa Bay in the 2015 preseason, had four sacks last year with Cincinnati.

8

September

There aren't many positives to the Bucs having a Week 1 bye and then 16 straight games, but for players recovering from injury and recent newcomers, it's an extra week to get better prepared for a new season opener next week at home against the Bears.

That includes new Bucs defensive end Will Clarke, who joined the team this week after being waived in the Bengals' final cuts, showing enough in a workout Tuesday to be signed to the team's 53-man roster.

"Just trying to learn and have open ears," Clarke said of what's most important as he picks up a new defense. "Just staying in the playbook, staying around the guys, not being too proud to ask questions."

Clarke, 26, was a third-round draft pick of the Bengals in 2014, playing his first two season with current Bucs defensive line coach Jay Hayes as his position coach. He played sparingly in those first two seasons, totaling seven tackles and a half-sack, but emerged last season with four sacks and 15 tackles.

"It's the way it goes sometimes," the 6-foot-6, 275-pound end said of his getting cut by the Bengals. "I'm thankful of them bringing me in. The guys they have, they have good talent, good guys on the line."

Clarke played at West Virginia, so he can count safety Keith Tandy and running back Charles Sims among his former teammates and familiar faces he's happy to see. Tandy was a co-winner of West Virginia's "Iron Mountaineers" award in 2011 (with Clarke and former Bucs draft pick Najee Goode) and said he likes what Clarke can bring to this Bucs defense.

"I hung out with Will a lot in college, actually," Tandy said. "We were Iron Mountaineers together, and they give that to the guys that work the hardest in the offseason, so that's the first thing is how hard he works. The second thing is his athletic ability, and the third thing is how smart he is. Why wouldn't you want that: a smart, athletic guy who works hard?"

Tandy said Clarke had texted him to let him know he had the workout this week, and he was hopeful the Bucs would see what he'd seen in Clarke.

"I said, 'Ooh, they see him work out, they're definitely keeping him,'" Tandy said. "When he worked out, I'm sitting here, peeking through the (window). He told me when he made it and I thought 'Alright, I have no question about that.'"

[Last modified: Friday, September 8, 2017 12:30pm]

    

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