Healthy Clayton says competition among receivers will help Print
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Wednesday, 01 August 2007 13:23
NFL Headline News

 LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. (AP) -Two injury-filled seasons removed from an outstanding rookie year, Tampa Bay Buccaneers receiver Michael Clayton is healthy again and eager to hold off the competition for his starting job.
``Obviously, in this league you have to compete, you have to produce,'' said Clayton, who's being challenged for playing time by a group of hungry receivers that includes second-year pro Maurice Stovall and former Pro Bowl receiver David Boston.
``I'm trying to stay healthy by doing things with my body to put myself in the best position to play for 16 games. It's something I haven't done the past two seasons. That's the best way I'm going to be able to help this team - by staying healthy.''
Clayton made an immediate impact as the 15th player selected in the 2004 draft with 80 receptions for 1,193 yards and seven touchdowns as a rookie. In 26 games over the past two seasons, he had 65 catches for 728 yards and one TD.
Stovall made two starts while playing sparingly as a rookie last year, while Boston was one of the NFL's top receivers before injuries and suspensions derailed a career that has also included stints with the Arizona Cardinals, San Diego Chargers and Miami Dolphins.
``We have everything that we need. We have big guys that can go in and bang. We have fast guys. All of us can catch the ball in traffic,'' Clayton said of a collection of receivers headed by Joey Galloway, who's coming off consecutive 1,000-yard seasons.
``But most importantly, we have guys that can get open. And when you have a quarterback that can throw it to the open receiver, it enhances your offense in such a way that gives you the momentum to win football games.''
With the 28-year-old Boston still a question mark after missing most of the past three seasons because of two separate knee injuries that required surgery, Stovall still may pose the biggest challenge for Clayton's starting job.
``We've got a lot of competition,'' coach Jon Gruden said. ``David Boston has been excellent. Maurice Stovall is doing exactly what we wanted him to do, and that's step up and be a much player his second year.''
Stovall, a third-round draft pick in 2006, appeared in nine games and had seven receptions for 102 yards as a rookie.
``It's real intense,'' Clayton said of the position battle with the 6-foot-5, 220-pound Stovall.
``The guy is good. He's ready to play right now. ... I think it's really important as an offense to get everyone in because that's the way we maximize the talent on this team. ... If it's an opportunity for Maurice to get in, or myself to get in, or whatever receiver that we have to get in, the best guy for that particular time is going to play. I think everybody is satisfied with that.''
 

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