Morris informs team of QB choice - Leftwich
Raheem Morris addressed his team this morning by telling them the starting quarterback is Byron Leftwich. Leftwich, 29, outplayed veteran Luke McCown in training camp and the preseason to win the job despite a shaky outing in Thursday's 10-6 loss to the Miami Dolphins.
On Friday, Morris said he had a starter in mind but wanted to meet with his coaching staff and inform Bucs co-chairmen Joel and Bryan Glazer before announcing his decision to the team Saturday morning.
Morris praised Leftwich on Friday for his leadership ability and said his experience was a key. He led Jacksonville to the playoffs in 2005, despite missing the final month of that season with an ankle injury. He has a career 24-22 record as a starter.
"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,'' Morris said Friday. '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.''
Leftwich spent the last two seasons as a backup in Atlanta and Pittsburgh, winning a Super Bowl ring with the Steelers as a backup to Ben Roethlisberger.
It's another disappointment for McCown, who is in his fifth season with the Bucs and did not take advantage of his best opportunity to become a starting NFL quarterback.
McCown, who signed a 2-year, $7.5-million contract in Feb., rather than become a free agent, simply couldn't compete with Leftwich's play-making ability.
Neither quarterback was impressive against the Dolphins Thursday. 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. His favorite target was 6-foot-5 receiver Maurice Stovall, who caught six for 73 yards.
McCown went 5-of-11 passing for 38 yards, was sacked twice and called for intentional grounding.