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Rick Stroud, Greg Auman and Matt Baker

McCown: "I'm not letting anybody take it from me"

Luke McCown says the Bucs' starting quarterback job is his to lose.

"Absolutely,'' McCown said. "This has been a long time coming for me and I'm not letting anybody take it from me. And it's the first legitimate opportunity. Say what you want about getting three starts at the end of a season.

"But this is my first real opportunity to be the starter, to be the guy. And I look at it as mine and you're going to have to shoot me.''

McCown is among five quarterbacks under contract for the Bucs, a list that now includes first-round pick Josh Freeman and veteran Byron Leftwich.

Neither player was on board when McCown signed a two-year deal. But McCown said coach Raheem Morris made it clear from the start there was a possibility the Bucs could draft a quarterback in the first round.

"I wasn't surprised by it at all,'' McCown said. "What I love about Raheem is he shoots you straight. He's going to tell you what's going on. When I re-signed, that was the first thing he said to me. He brought me up into his office, showed me the board and said, "this is what the depth chart looks like. Here's the competition you're going to be in. We've got the 19th pick. Who knows? All the experts say we're going to draft one (quarterback). Maybe we do. All you can do is go out, compete, and worst case scenario, you perform well and we have to make a decision whether to keep you or trade you.

"You can't do anything but respect him for that.  So I anticipated that pick and we'll go from there.''

On Tuesday, McCown split reps with Leftwich and Josh Johnson. Veteran Brian Griese is not expected to attend OTA's and expects to be traded or released. Freeman is unable to participate in off-season workouts until the semester ends at Kansas State later this month."

McCown is 1-6 as a starter, but four of those came as a rookie with the Cleveland Browns. 

"Nobody knew what New England had in Matt Cassel,'' McCown said. "You just don't know until you get out there and play, and not three games. You've got to play eight, 10, 12 games in a row to get that experience, to get that confidence, to get that respect, to be able to be vocal and be a leader. You have to earn things in this league and you don't earn them with just two or three good games. That just doesn't happen. You get a little bit of credit, but you've got to do it for a whole year.''

McCown said this year's offense has the most weapons of any team he has played on in Tampa Bay.

"No question about it,'' McCown said. "You just look across the board. Not only that, but the depth that we have as well. We've got a chance to compete, we've got guys that are going to be able to step in and fill in when somebody has got a sprained toe and perform at a high level. When you look across the board as an offense and we can be very explosive.''

[Last modified: Wednesday, May 26, 2010 3:32pm]


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