IRVING, Texas — Rookie free-agent running back Clifton Smith spent the first seven weeks of his pro football career in relative anonymity on the Bucs' practice squad.
But with the return game struggling for weeks because of second-round draft pick Dexter Jackson's ineffectiveness, the Bucs promoted Smith on Saturday and left Jackson inactive.
Sunday, in his first pro action, Smith had a promising performance, though it was marred by his fumble on the second-half kickoff. He had five punt returns for 82 yards — his 20-yarder was the team's longest this season — and three kickoff returns for 62 yards.
You had some real highs and lows today. Does that make it hard to judge your performance?
It was really a roller-coaster for me today. I felt in the first half that I was really playing well, getting us good field position. Then I came out in that second half, and that fumble really put a damper on the parade.
Do you think you'll be given opportunities despite the fumble?
I hope so. I personally look at every return like I only have one chance. Hopefully, I impressed some people today.
When you finally got a chance to play, it came in Texas Stadium on national TV. Will you treasure this experience?
Definitely. It was a great experience. But I'm a sore loser. I don't like losing whatsoever. So that really puts a damper on everything. But overall, it was a great experience to come and play in Texas Stadium. It's every kid's dream. I'm just living my dream and loving it.