- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 8, 2006

Receiver Joey Galloway had a terrific year for Tampa Bay in 2005. But Galloway will be 35 in November and the Buccaneers’ No. 2 wideout was Ike Hilliard, who averaged just 8.1 yards a catch and is 31. So the Bucs are taking a flyer on bad boy David Boston.

The eighth pick in the 1999 draft, Boston put up monster numbers for Arizona in 2001. He signed with San Diego in 2003 and played well despite serving a one-game suspension for conduct detrimental to the team. Boston moved to Miami in 2004, promptly blew out a knee and failed a drug test, drawing a four-game NFL suspension. Boston, 27, caught just four passes in five games last season before going on injured reserve with another knee injury in November.

While the Buccaneers are keeping their fingers crossed with Boston, they’re counting on third-year man Michael Clayton. After setting team rookie records with 80 catches and 1,193 yards in 2004, Clayton — coming off knee surgery — sunk to 32 catches and 372 yards last season and scored zero touchdowns, seven fewer than in 2004.

When Clayton visited Jon Gruden to begin preparations for 2006, the Bucs’ coach reached into his desk drawer and pulled out a sheet of paper with his expectations for the team’s top 2004 draft pick.

“It was presented to me with my name, sign it or not,” Clayton said. “He laid it on the table. I read it over. I concurred. I signed it. I made a pact with Coach Gruden that I was going to get it right. I’ve been devoted to that, and I won’t change.”

Two things have already changed. Clayton is fully healthy and has dropped 13 of the 225 pounds he reported to training camp weighing last summer after a fairly inactive offseason.

Remember when? — June 1 used to be a critical date on the NFL calendar because from that date onward, players could be cut and only a pro-rated share of their remaining signing bonus would count against the salary cap, with the rest assessed the following year.

Washington, for one, signed starters Larry Centers, Marco Coleman, Mark Carrier, Bruce Smith and Deion Sanders after the June 1 cuts of 1999 and 2000 while releasing Brian Mitchell, who was on his way to becoming the NFL’s all-time leading kick returner.

In 2004, former MVP Kurt Warner was axed along with fellow big names Jeremiah Trotter, Vinny Testaverde and Jason Gildon. Kyle Turley, Todd Steussie, Bobby Taylor and Lance Schulters were cut last year as was Koren Robinson, who rebounded to make the Pro Bowl.

However, teams have become so smart at working the cap that this June 1 was like any other day in the NFL’s slow late spring. The only moves last Thursday were made by the New York Giants, who signed Ben Herrell and waived fellow “who’s he?” offensive lineman Jon Doty and running back Jerod Void. Void is right.

Brooks’ good deeds pay dividends — Buccaneers Pro Bowl linebacker Derrick Brooks began working with underprivileged Tampa Bay area youth in 1997. Brooks has taken “Brooks Bunch” members to Africa, all around the United States and on college tours. Natasha Spencer recently became the first “Brooks Bunch” member with a college degree.

“Having Derrick in my life made it easier,” Spencer told Bucs.com. “He was always talking to me about college and kept on me about where I wanted to go to school.”

Spencer graduated from Florida State, from which Brooks has two degrees, with a 3.6 grade point average and intends to go on to medical school. She’d eventually like to open a clinic back in her downtrodden area of Tampa.

“I’ve always taught them to catch the rope and then throw it back for someone else,” Brooks said.

New digs — The Bucs can’t wait to say good riddance to One Buc Place after more than 30 years in the complex of trailers and cinderblock buildings near Tampa Airport. Their new facility next to Raymond James Stadium should be ready when the team returns from training camp in Orlando in August.

“We see rodents, cockroaches with muscles, man,” running back Michael Pittman said. “But we had to make do with it. For us to get a new facility is great for this organization and this team.”

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