TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Josh Freeman is back on the practice field, feeling good about himself and the future of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
The fifth-year pro entering the final season of his contract said Monday that he still considers the Bucs his team to guide to the playoffs, despite the club’s decision to draft another young quarterback to potentially take his place.
Just importantly, coach Greg Schiano reiterated Freeman is his starter before making another attempt to dispel what he said is a misconception about his desire to increase competition at virtually every position, including quarterback
Freeman became Tampa Bay’s first 4,000-yard passer a year ago, however his inconsistency contributed to a 7-9 finish and energized speculation about his future with the team.
The chatter intensified when the Bucs selected North Carolina State’s Mike Glennon in the third round of last month’s NFL draft.
“It’s competition, and I love it,” Schiano, who is beginning his second season with the Bucs after a long run a Rutgers, said.
“But we have our starting quarterback. It’s Josh Freeman,” the coach added. “I’m not looking to find a new one, but I do like to have quality depth at every position. When you get that, just naturally these are the most competitive guys on the planet, and it raises everybody’s level.”
Although Schiano himself sparked widespread debate about whether Freeman, drafted under former coach Raheem Morris in 2009, fits into his long-term plans, he insisted his comments have been misinterpreted, especially by people who believe Schiano might prefer to pick his own quarterback.
“From the day we arrived, our whole program is there’s going to be competition,” the coach said. “Now we haven’t always been able to have it because you can only get so many guys on your roster, but that’s what we believe in. It’s the most competitive sports league in the world.”
Freeman was among four quarterbacks on the field for the start of organized team activities on Monday. He said he welcomed the addition of Glennon and declared that he and Schiano have a “great relationship.”
“That’s the way it works on every team, honestly. You want to have the best and most talented team you can have,” said Freeman, who is also backed up by veteran Dan Orlovsky and another young quarterback, Adam Weber.
“No question, you want the best possible option behind you. … You look at it as if down the road something happens to me, you want a guy who can come in and keep it going, win some games. … We’re competitors. We’re going to work as hard as we can trying to find a way to get more wins.”
Schiano echoed Freeman’s sentiment that the relationship between coach and player is fine. He said he also shared his stance on the quarterback situation with Glennon after making him the third quarterback selected in the draft behind E.J. Manuel and Geno Smith.
“I don’t think it bothers Josh. He’s a confident guy. He knows this is his team,” Schiano said. “I don’t think it bothers him one bit. I think he’s ready to go have a great year, and that’s what we’re working for.”
With the exception of injured players, the full squad participated in Monday’s workout.
Cornerback Darrelle Revis, acquired from the New York Jets in exchange for the 13th overall pick in the draft, worked out with a trainer on an adjacent field as he continues to recover from knee surgery. Later, he stood with coaches while getting a closer view of some full-speed drills.
“Darrelle is learning the system. He’s watching certain things, and then he’s doing other things with (the trainer). It’s kind of a split thing there, but all aimed at having him ready at the beginning of the season. That’s the main goal,” Schiano said.
“He’s got to learn the scheme, learn the techniques and the verbage. I think we’re in a good place,” Schiano added. “We’ve got a long way to go, but I think he’d tell you he’s feeling better every day, he’s doing more every day. Step by step is how we’ll get there.”