Galloway Remains In Form
Ira Kaufman, The Tampa Tribune, published 1 January 2007

Between mentoring rookie Maurice Stovall and schooling NFL defensive backs, Bucs receiver Joey Galloway found the time to notch his fifth 1,000-yard season. And this one was the most improbable.

Galloway caught eight passes for 118 yards and a touchdown Sunday, providing some of the few Tampa Bay highlights in a 23-7 loss to Seattle. And while the 12-year veteran topped the 1,000-yard mark for the second consecutive year, Stovall continued to emerge as a young talent.

"Joey Galloway is a guy who takes care of his body and he knows how to play football, period," Bucs center John Wade said. "He knows how to get open and he's got speed that looks eternal."

After a challenging first season in Tampa, when a groin injury forced him to the sidelines for six games, Galloway has regained the form that made him a two-time Pro Bowl selection in Seattle. He departed the locker room Sunday without answering questions, perhaps wary of what he would say in the wake of a 4-12 season marked by erratic quarterback play.

"The season is over and everyone is a little disappointed right now because we feel like we had the talent to win more games," Galloway said in a released statement. "We just didn't play well enough. Right now, the 1,000-yard seasons don't really mean much."

Galloway finished with 62 receptions for 1,057 yards and seven touchdowns, and Sunday's effort marked his 26th career 100-yard game. Most impressively, the 35-year-old speedster kept making plays in a dismal season, no matter who lined up under center. Galloway caught the only scoring pass thrown by Chris Simms in 2006. He eased Bruce Gradkowski into his first pro start by opening the scoring at New Orleans.

When Tim Rattay replaced Gradkowski in Chicago, it was Galloway who triggered a furious fourth-quarter comeback with a 64-yard touchdown reception against one of the league's elite defenses. "I've told myself that I'm going to follow Joey around in the offseason to see how he takes care of himself," Bucs linebacker Ryan Nece said. "What he's done here in Tampa is very impressive."

Especially to Stovall, the third-round pick out of Notre Dame who was inactive for seven of the first eight games. "Joey is a professional," said Stovall, who caught a 4-yard pass from Rattay, but added 29 yards combined on a double reverse and an end around. "He's a very conditioned athlete who is always calm on the field. He always seems to maintain a level of poise and confidence that you can't help but notice."

Given the poor productivity of Michael Clayton since his outstanding 2004 rookie season, the Bucs will be tempted to draft wide receiver Calvin Johnson if the Georgia Tech standout is available. That's why the 21-year-old Stovall plans on staying in shape and working on his skills - after consulting with Galloway, of course.

"I want to improve on everything, from my strength to my speed," Stovall said. "The nice words from teammates and Coach [Jon] Gruden mean a lot to me, but I can't get comfortable or complacent. You have to keep working in this league because next year, there's going to be another rookie on this team trying to take my job."