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Rick Stroud, Greg Auman and Matt Baker

QB Freeman is 'The man,' and his improvement is showing



Quarterback Josh Freeman won't take another snap after Tuesday until he reports to training camp late next month.

That means the bulk of his development from unpolished rookie to second-year starter already has occurred.

On Monday, Freeman looked sharp in the morning practice session of the team's three-day minicamp. Unofficially, he went 11-of-16 passing with one touchdown and one dropped pass during 7-on-7 drills. Another pass was nearly intercepted by cornerback Aqib Talib.

"I feel I'm a lot better in a lot of different ways, whether it's the playbook, watching film, but also we get a lot of physical work, fundamental work trying to improve accuracy this season,'' Freeman said.

"There's a lot more. I know what we're trying to get accomplished, I know the alerts and the nuances in the offense when we see different coverages. It's definitely a lot more comfortable knowing where to go with the ball.''

A year ago at this time, Freeman was getting few -- if any -- reps. He was an afterthought in the battle between Byron Leftwich and Luke McCown, who eventually was traded to Jacksonville.

Freeman started the final nine games, going 3-6 with 10 touchdowns and 18 interceptions. But Freeman's coaches and teammates certainly have noticed the difference this off-season, from his vocal leadership in and out of the huddle to his command of the offense.

"Especially since he played a lot last year, the second year is when you take your biggest jump,'' linebacker Barrett Ruud said. "It kind of reminds me a lot of my second year when I started, too. He knows what he wants to do and what I see is that he's working on things in practice to get better. He's not just going through the motions. He's trying things out, he's trying pump fakes. I'm sure he's watching other quarterbacks throughout the league and seeing how they play against the Cover Two or Cover Three and you can see he's trying to do those things on the practice field and seeing what works for him.

"I think he knows how to prepare now. That's a good thing. I think he know what he needs to do to get better and he's definitely doing that right now.''

Defensive end Gerald McCoy, the Bucs' first-round pick from Oklahoma, played against Freeman when he was at Kansas State. So far, he likes what he sees from Freeman with the Bucs.

"Freeman is the guy,'' McCoy said. "I've actually known Free since high school. He was my teammate at the All American game and I played against him in college and now he's my teammate again in Tampa. I've seen a lot of great things from him and he's going to be ready. He puts all the work in and overtime.

"He has no fear, that's what I like about him the most. He started a good number of games but he wasn't the guy last year. Now he is the guy and he has no fear. He's ready to take on all new challenges. He's mobile on his feet, he's got a big arm and he's a smart quarterback. He doesn't force anything, and if he needs to run and get out of bounds, he can.

"Your quarterback is automatically your leader, especially if he's a good one, and he has the makings to be a Pro Bowl quarterback and I truly believe he will be.''



[Last modified: Monday, July 19, 2010 2:42pm]


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