Bucs kick off OTAs and Schiano again affirms Freeman is his starter
The Bucs kicked off OTAs today with their first full-squad practice of the offseason, and there was no shortage of news to report.
Much of that news was off the field, where coach Greg Schiano proclaimed – again – that Josh Freeman is the team’s unquestioned starting quarterback. This became necessary after he was quoted in recent days saying he would be fine if rookie Mike Glennon won the job over Freeman.
Today, Schiano was strong in his wording, saying, “We have a starting quarterback, and it’s Josh Freeman.” Schiano said he is merely trying to be honest when asked about his quarterback situation, saying his comments are never meant as a slight to Freeman. But as a practical matter, several of his comments in recent months have raised questions, particularly from national media, that Freeman could be vulnerable.
“I guess nationally, they don’t sit here with me every day like you guys (local media) do,” Schiano said. “From the day we arrived, our whole program has (been based on) competition. . . That’s what we believe in. It’s the most competitive sports league in the world. It’s competition, and I love it.
“But we have our starting quarterback, and it’s Josh Freeman. I’m not looking to find another.”
There were a number of other developments to report:
* Attendance today was solid, Schiano said, with no one absent from the workout.
* Rookie Akeem Spence, drafted in the fourth round, got the majority of the snaps as the starting nose tackle and seems on track to win the job. Schiano called him possible one of the NFL’s strongest players, and Spence showed his toughness and resolve when he got into a dustup with guard Jeremy Zuttah. The two had to be separated, something that required multiple players to accomplish.
* In terms of players coming off injuries, defensive end Adrian Clayborn seems the furthest along. He was back for all of the individual work but won’t be a part of the full-team drills just yet. Clayborn suffered a torn ACL in September.
Guards Davin Joseph (knee) and Carl Nicks (foot) aren’t back but could be in the coming weeks, Schiano said. Joseph is closer to a return than Nicks, but neither is expected to be unavailable for training camp.
Cornerback Darrelle Revis worked with a trainer throughout the practice, while observing alongside his coaches during the full-squad portion.
* Luke Stocker was the first tight end today, but that position needs to sort itself out, with players like Tom Crabtree attempting to make an impact.
* Glennon was the No. 2 quarterback, which shouldn’t be a surprise. But given the fact he’s in the early stages of learning the offense, it was not a guarantee that he’d be ready to assume that role. Seems the Bucs aren’t going to bother bringing him along slowly.
* Dekoda Watson took today’s snaps with the first team defense at strong-side linebacker. That’s a position battle that likely will continue to shake out over the course of the spring and summer, however. Jonathan Casillas, a free agent acquisition from the Saints is Watson’s primary competition.
* Finally, at cornerback, Eric Wright and Leonard Johnson were the top two corners today (in Revis’ absence). Wright took on slot cornerback duties when the offense was in passing situations, with rookie Johnthan Banks then becoming the third cornerback. Look for Banks to move up a notch as he begins to learn the scheme.
NOTE: In a previous version, an incorrect order was given for the cornerbacks on the field Monday.