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Former Pro Bowler Boston dazzles in Bucs' loss to Texans

HOUSTON (AP) -- Tampa Bay coach Jon Gruden wondered if David Boston was serious about making a comeback.

The former Pro Bowl receiver showed just how much he wants to
play in the NFL.

Boston saw his first extended action of the preseason and had
six receptions for 77 yards in the Buccaneers' 16-13 loss to the
Houston Texans on Thursday night.

One of the catches included an impressive 33-yarder that helped
set up a Buccaneers field goal in the second period. He missed all
of the 2004 season and all but five games last season in Miami
recovering from the knee injury that occurred in training camp
practice -- also against the Texans.

"It was good to go out and compete again," Boston said. "It
was fun. I'm just working on the little things."

Boston, signed as a free agent in May, is considered as a
possible No. 3 receiver behind Joey Galloway and Michael Clayton.

"He's real committed and serious on making a comeback," Gruden
said. "I'm talking about getting it all back and being the David
Boston who was a fierce, reckless and great football player."

The game was also a homecoming for Boston, who starred at Ohio
State after a standout high school career in Humble, just north of
Houston. Picked eighth in the 1999 draft, Boston had his best
season in 2001 with 98 receptions for 1,598 yards and eight
touchdowns for Arizona.

Before Thursday he had just one reception for 3 yards this
preseason.

"He has been in my heart and prayers every night," Gruden
said. "I like David Boston. I want to see him when he's playing
great again."

None of the passes came from starter Chris Simms. The former
University of Texas quarterback played just the opening series. He
was 1-of-2 for 6 yards and badly overthrew a receiver downfield on
third-and-3.

Simms watched Boston from the sideline and is excited about
throwing to him this season.

"He is one of those rare guys you can call a true freak,"
Simms said. "He is physically gifted. He will do some great things
for our team."

The Texans (3-1) got out to an early lead after backup Sage
Rosenfels found tight end Bennie Joppru for a 2-yard touchdown.

Texans coach Gary Kubiak said earlier this week that this game
was "big" for Antowain Smith, and the 34-year-old running back
responded. On the first play of Houston's second series, Smith
slipped through a hole, stiff-armed one defender and outran a
couple more before being pulled down from behind after a 46-yard
gain. The run was the longest in Texans' preseason history.

"I'm no spring chicken, so I have to show them something for
them to keep me around," Smith said. "I want to be around to help
this team."

He finished with eight carries for 69 yards. Rookie Chris
Taylor, vying with Smith for a roster spot, had 17 carries for 68
yards.

"Antowain is a veteran guy who pounds the ball," Kubiak said.
"Taylor, I thought had exceptional speed, but he needs more vision
and needs to grow as a runner."

Tampa Bay rookie Bruce Gradkowski rebounded from a tough outing
against Jacksonville where he was intercepted twice and lost a
fumble, to make a push to be the No. 2 quarterback. He led the Bucs
(1-3) to their only touchdown on a 13-play, 79-yard drive that
ended with a 5-yard pass to Tim Massaquoi in the third quarter.

He was 13-of-17 for 90 yards and was Tampa Bay's leading rusher
with three carries for 47 yards.

"For a young guy to complete 75 percent of his passes was very
impressive," Gruden said. "I'm very pleased with what he did."

Houston got three field goals from Kris Brown, including a
30-yarder that broke a 13-13 tie in the fourth quarter.

As with most of Houston's starters, No. 1 draft pick Mario
Williams did not play, instead watching from the sideline in a
uniform but no helmet. Travis Johnson, the Texans' top pick last
year, saw extended action. He's likely to be a starter, but has had
to work to get on the Kubiak's good side and had Houston's only
sack of the game.

Game notes
WR Clayton missed the game to attend the birth of his
child. ... The win was Houston's third of the preseason and matched
the total number of preseason victories the Texans had in their
four previous seasons combined. ... Texans G Steve McKinney played
for the first time this preseason after struggling with minor
injuries.