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Boston says he's healed on all fronts
By STEPHEN HOLDER
Published May 26, 2006
TAMPA - David Boston says he is driven to be the player he was once was. If you don't believe him, you should have seen him Thursday.
Less than 24 hours after completing a deal with the Bucs, the free-agent receiver participated in the team's voluntary workout at Raymond James Stadium. He immediately returned to One Buc Place, where he began a series of calisthenics followed by a meeting with his position coach.
After missing 27 games with the Dolphins the past two seasons with a patella tendon injury in his left knee, there is little time to waste.
"When you've gone out and had success in the league, you know what it's like and how hard you need to work and how hungry you were when you were doing it," said Boston, who was selected to the Pro Bowl after a career year in 2001. "I've never forgotten that. It sets a standard.
"I know if I'm not working hard, I just look back to the things I was doing when I was really successful in my first three years in the league."
But as eager as Boston is to return, he will have to have patience. He said his knee is about 90 percent healed, so, to be safe, he will take only a limited number of reps, 15 to 20 each workout for now.
"My first three or four years, I never got hurt," he said. "It's the last two years I've had to deal with injuries. I'm a little smarter now and know how to handle injuries. If I'm pushing myself too hard, I'll back off a little.
"They're giving me the leeway to take things slowly here. They know I'm on my way back."
Quarterback Chris Simms can see the 6-foot-2 veteran's potential after just a handful of passes: "He's like a specimen. He's 230 pounds and can run a 4.4 (40 yards) and catch the ball with ease. He's just been a big-time player."
Boston's injury issues have been compounded by a drug-related suspension, a failed steroid test, a drunk-driving arrest and an arrest for simple assault while rehabbing in Vermont in 2004. Also, in 2003, he was suspended one game by Chargers coach Marty Schottenheimer for conduct detrimental to the team.
Has Boston, the first-round draft pick by the Cardinals in 1999 out of Ohio State, matured?
"I feel like I have," he said. "I'm 27 years old, and I have a wife and a daughter now and I devote my life to them.
"When it's time to work, I work hard and try to keep all my decisions based around that."
The decision to join the Bucs was arrived at after Boston's visit to Tampa last week, when "they welcomed me with open arms and I was glad to be a part of that. And Coach (Jon) Gruden has a passion for the game that I love.