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Rick Stroud, Greg Auman and Matt Baker

Morris delays naming a starting QB



Coach Raheem Morris declined to name a starting quarterback Friday. "We'll have a decision here very soon,'' Morris said.

Morris said he wanted to consult with his coaching staff, then inform the Bucs owners and his team. Players were off Friday. "I think we've got to go with who we think gives us the best chance to win."

Morris indicated either Byron Leftwich or Luke McCown will be the starting quarterback when the Bucs open the regular season Sept. 13 against Dallas.

"I do have my opinion, which I'm not going to share with you right now,'' Morris said. "No disrespect. But you back and evaluate all the way from the beginning, from the OTA days and off-season conditioning workouts, when we started minicamps and when we started training camp, going into the preseason and all the way through last night.

"You've got to look at it all. You've got to view it all, you've got to feel out what you want your team to be.

"Yes, you have your own opinion. Can my mind be changed? Yes. Because I'm not closed-minded enough to think I have all the answers...I'm going to take in all they have to say and we'll make the decision.''

Barring an injury or illness, however, Morris all but ruled out first-round pick Josh Freeman winning the job.

"I didn't want it to be (Josh)  Freeman,'' Morris said. "If he forced his hand in the thing, then it could've been Freeman. I'm never going to rule him out because you never know what's going to happen. I can't tell you whether I'm going to have a Baltimore Ravens situation Week 1. I don't want to say Freeman is not going to be my quarterback and I turn around and he's my quarterback.

"I all liklihood, you want it to be one of the two guys we're talking about, just talking about the plan and how you want to groom Freeman and bring him along. I'm not going to rule him out, but I'm not going to say he's the all-out leader in the clubhouse.''

All indications are that Morris is leaning toward naming Leftwich the starting quarterback.

Unfortunately, he didn't get a clear-cut winner during the first three preseason games. In Thursday night's 10-6 loss to Miami, Leftwich finished 9-of-17 for 100 yards, converting 4-of-8 third down situations and staking the Bucs to a 6-0 lead on a pair of Mike Nugent field goals. Luke McCown went 5-of-11 passing for 38 yards, was sacked twice and called for intentional grounding.

On the preseason, Leftwich is 21-of-43 for 224 yards with one touchdown and no interceptions for a passer rating of 72.2. McCown 15-of-28 for 108 with two touchdowns and no INTs, rating 86.6.

"If Byron Leftwich is your selection, his leadership, the fact that he's won 12 games in this league before, the fact that's he's a big, strong-armed guy that can make all the throws. He missed a few last night, which was blatantly obvious. But he made a few big-time throws that followed up some of those throws. He has the savvy, has the toughness, mentally sharp -- all the qualities that you look for in a quarterback. 

"Those are some of the qualities that make Byron Leftwich have the ability to be the starting quarterback for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.''

"If Luke is your choice, you're talking about a young man that's hungry, that's waited his turn. You're talking about a guy who's been in the background for years. He's always been the bridesmaid. Hungry. Wants to go out there and make some decisions. Can make plays with his feet. Can make all the throws. Is a leader, sharp, detailed and he works his butt off. He's one of the hardest workers on our team. That's some of the qualities that make Luke McCown potentially the starter for the Buccaneers.''

[Last modified: Wednesday, May 26, 2010 3:39pm]


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