Buccaneers to start Leftwich vs Dolphins, QB competition lingers
Bucs coach Raheem Morris said he will start Byron Leftwich at quarterback on Thursday night against the Dolphins, giving him about 1 1/2 quarters to make his final bid to be the team's regular-season starter.
Rival Luke McCown will get equal playing time afterward, and will also be given ample opportunity, Morris said.
Morris had originally planned to make an announcement this week, but the decision has now been delayed.
Morris said the evaluation will be fairer than in the past two preseason contests because the starter and relief quarterback will play with the same cast. Morris plans to play the starters for nearly three quarters.
"We want to let them play for a quarter and a half with the same guys," Morris said. "This is the week that you play your starters to halftime and a little bit afterward.
"You'll have Donald Penn in the whole time. You'll have (Jeremy) Trueblood the whole time. You'll have Davin Joseph and Cadillac (Williams) and (Derrick Ward) and Earnest Graham. . . It'll be the same group of people and just a better evaluation on an even scale."
The news leaves McCown and Leftwich in limbo even as the regular season draws nearer. At least one of them isn't shy about saying he'd prefer the decision be made already.
"I've never seen a team have success going into Week 1 trying to figure out who their quarterback is going to be," Leftwich said. "You've got to make a decision. You've got to go with it and that's the only way you can get one guy to lead a bunch of guys."
Morris believes there's a benefit to having two quarterbacks who are playing well, as each did against the Jaguars Saturday night.
"This is a good problem," Morris said. "We're not sitting looking at two guys ho just went 2 of 14. We're looking at two guys who had some pretty good games, had some pretty good throws. We're excited about them. . . It was like, 'Man, would somebody choke?'"