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Speedy WR Campbell Heads South

After a very productive season in the Canadian Football League, former Minnesota Vikings speed-demon Kelly Campbell is returning to the NFL, as he has signed with the Buccaneers


WR Kelly Campbell was a big-play threat in Minnesota from 2002-04

For the second time this offseason, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have signed a player out of the Canadian Football League.

In the case of Kelly Campbell, signed on Friday after a one-year stint with the Edmonton Eskimos, the Buccaneers had plenty of NFL game tape to use in scouting the speedy wide receiver.

In January, Tampa Bay announced the signing of linebacker Jamall Johnson of the B.C. Lions among 10 players inked to reserve/future contracts for the 2009 season. By picking up Campbell just before the official start of the '09 league year, the Bucs have added the CFL's 2008 leader in yards per catch (22.6).

In his one and only season in Canada, Campbell caught 54 passes for 1,223 yards and seven touchdowns. He was the league's sixth-leading receiver in terms of yardage and had just 82 fewer yards than teammate Kamau Peterson despite recording 47 fewer catches.

Obviously, the 5-10, 175-pound Campbell has speed to burn. He also has sure hands and is an elusive runner with kick return skills. He wasn't drafted out of Georgia Tech in 2002 but was signed by the Minnesota Vikings as a college free agent, and he made the active roster as a rookie.

Campbell played three seasons in Minnesota, appearing in 37 games with 11 starters. He caught 57 passes for 1,062 yards and eight touchdowns and emerged as a legitimate deep threat, with an average of 18.6 yards per grab that peaked at 20.9 in 2003.

The 2003 season stands as Campbell's most productive overall. He put up career highs in starts (six), catches (25), receiving yards (522), yards per catch and touchdowns (four). He also ran 10 times for 71 yards in '03 and returned five kickoffs for 101 yards.

Campbell played in a career-high 16 games in 2004, snaring another 19 passes for 364 yards and a touchdown, for an average of 19.2 yards per reception. He also took over the primary kickoff return role, running back 35 kicks for 760 yards (21.7-yard avg.). However, he did not make the roster in 2005 and sat out that NFL campaign.

In 2006, Campbell returned to the NFL with the Miami Dolphins but suffered a quadriceps injury and was eventually released. The Dolphins signed him again during the 2007 offseason but released him prior to the start of training camp.

Campbell was a three-time all-conference pick at Georgia Tech, leaving as the school's all-time leader in virtually every receiving category. He holds school records for receptions (195), receiving yards (2,907) and touchdown catches (24) and his catch total was the third-highest in ACC history upon his departure.

The Buccaneers could sign Campbell in February because he was not on an NFL roster in 2008. All players who were in the league in '08 and whose contracts are expiring will become free agents on February 27.

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