Dallas Clark’s first season with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers ended quietly last weekend.
Clark, the Livermore native and former University of Iowa All-American tight end, wrapped up his 10th year in the National Football League as the Buccaneers closed out the 2012 season in a 22-17 victory over the Atlanta Falcons last Sunday.
The youthful Buccaneers, under first-year head coach Greg Schiano, finished the year at 7-9. The season included a five-game losing streak before they beat the 13-3 Falcons. The skid put the brakes to a mid-season run where the Bucs put themselves in contention for a wild card playoff berth.
“Our run was short-lived,” Clark said. “We lost a few games down the stretch that really cost us our chances.”
Tampa Bay opened the season with a 1-3 record. After a bye in week five, the Bucs won five of their next six games, including four straight from Oct. 25 to Nov. 18. But the next six games went the opposite direction.
Clark was third on the team in receiving with 31 catches for 320 yards, including three touchdowns and a 10.3 yards-per-catch average.
After playing nine seasons for the Indianapolis Colts, the veteran tight end was released last March. He signed a one-year contract with Tampa Bay last May as the team was looking to add some established veterans to provide leadership to an up-and-coming team.
“Coach Schiano wanted to bring some veteran leadership to a locker room that didn’t have much,” Clark said. “It is a very young team and they just wanted me to show some of the young guys how to work day in and day out.”
“It’s a young team full of talent,” Clark said. “Doug Martin (rookie running back) is one of the best rookies I’ve been around in my career. He is going to have a special career.”
Clark started every game at tight end was fortunate enough to not have any injuries this past season.
“I haven’t missed a game all year, which I was really pleased about. Minus some things here and there, the body held up pretty good,” Clark said.
Now the off-season questions will come up for Clark. Will he return to the Buccaneers, or will another NFL team sign the veteran for his services? How much longer will he keep playing?
“Those are good questions. I will have to wait and see what my options are and go from there,” Clark said. “I don’t really know. I’m just going to keep taking it one year at a time.”
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