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Rick Stroud, Greg Auman and Matt Baker

Raheem Morris on rookie QB Josh Freeman: 'He has to lead us'



Raheem Morris, fresh off a Gatorade bath courtesy of Cadillac Williams and Derrick Ward, was ecstatic about his first victory as a head coach.

Afterward, there were plenty of questions from the assembled media about QB Josh Freeman, who helped will the Bucs to the win and finished 14 of 31 for 205 yards with three TDs and one interception.

"We still have to be patient," Morris said of Freeman. "We still have to let him grow. He made some mistakes he can go back and look at that will allow him to get better an better. . . His age doesn't matter at this point. He has to (play like) a 7-year vet. He has to lead us where we need to go."

Asked about Freeman orchestrating a come-from-behind win in his first start, Morris said composure was one of the things that attracted the team to Freeman.

"It was why we brought him in here, why we brought him in to lead this franchise," Morris said. "I am sure you (reporters) can feel how poised he was out there, never really rattled. (He) made some mistakes, which all young quarterbacks do. . . When he goes out there, you feel that you have a chance to win, you have the ability to win."

Freeman's performance isn't a total surprise to me. I think a lot of his most impressive throws are a result of the kind of pedigree he has. But what did come as a surprise was his ability to evade the pass rush while still keeping the option to throw. Whereas Byron Leftwich has no mobility and Josh Johnson tends to run before exploring all his options, Freeman found a balance between running and holding out a little longer.

He made some gaffes, as Morris admitted. He took a sack inside his own 5-yard line. He slid short of a first down in a third-and-short situation. He floated a ball into traffic and was picked off. But he offsets that by making impressive throws like the one to Sammie Stroughter for the game-winning touchdown and an earlier out route thrown across his body to Kellen Winslow that picked up a key first down. 

Who knows what happens next week and beyond? But, for the first time in a long time, it sure looks like the Bucs have something to work with at a position that has hamstrung them for years.

[Last modified: Wednesday, May 26, 2010 3:48pm]


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