QB Josh McCown 'humbled,' by chance to start in 13th season
Bucs quarterback Josh McCown reported to his 13th training camp Thursday, but it's his first as a starter in a decade.
The 35-year-old McCown was last counted on as the No. 1 quarterback in 2004 with the Arizona Cardinals, where he failed to throw a touchdown in his first four games.
"Again, very humbling, especially at this stage,'' McCown said. "But I'm excited because you know where you stand going into camp so it's definitely a little bit of a departure from different years. But I'm excited about it. I'm looking forward to it. It's going to be fun.
"It's a fun time of year, just going to camp. It's always the same feeling. You get a little bit of butterflies, nerves and anxiousness just to get started. But for me, being in my 13th year, it's humbling just to able to do this so I'm very thankful for the opporuntity. It's very cool.''
McCown went 3-2 as a starter with the Bears last season, throwing 13 touchdowns and only one intercpetion. But instead of throwing to Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery, he has to get on the same page with Vincent Jackson and rookie Mike Evans. Both Evans (hamstring) and tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins (foot) missed time during the off-season battling injuries. But both reported to training camp Thursday saying they were 100 percent.
"It's got to come fast. We need those guys,'' McCown said. "And I've seen a little bit just from the time we left until now that they're willing to put the work in. So we'll get that done in camp. That's the beautiful thing about camp. You've got so much time together you feel like you can really put in some work that will pay dividends. We need those guys to come along because they can help us.''
McCown said optimism is high for every NFL team this time of year, but what gives him confidence is the amount of leaders in the locker room.
"It's at 100 for everybody. Every NFL team feels this way right now,'' McCown said. "That's what I mean what excites me about our guys. Optimism is everywhere right now but adversity is coming. It does for every team in the league every year and it's how you handle that is the measure of your team. That's how I feel about our guys. In our locker room, I feel like we have people who can handle those bumps and really stick together and that's the key.''
"I feel like we learned about ourselves in the spring and what it's going to take to be a good football team and to win football games. Now we can come in and hone that. It's it's exciting when you think about that because sometimes you come to camp and you figure things out. I feel like we've got a little bit narrow focus now after we evaluated things in the spring and we've got a little more focus.''
The Bucs have not reached the post-season since 2007 and have not won a playoff game since Super Bowl XXXVII. That drought hasn't dampened the hopes of Tampa Bay fans. McCown said he has learned that the area is starved for a winner.
"My family and I got down six days ago so we've been around. You see people around and hear their words and you kind of get the idea that they want a winner, like any NFL city,'' McCown said. "I guess for me, I didn't realize here in Tampa how passionate they were about it. So it's neat to see and it sticks in the back of your mind. It definitely drives you. You want deliver that for people, too, because you know how much they enjoy the game.
"No bold predictions. We're just going to go out and play good football and see where that leads us. But I believe if we do that, if we do the things we're asked to do that coaches have laid out, I think we'll look up at the end of the year and find ourselves in a favorable position.''