TAMPA — The passer was about to pass out.
Quarterback Josh Freeman bent over at the waist during the middle of practice Friday, the first of training camp under new Bucs coach Greg Schiano, and, well, started hurling something besides footballs.
"Josh was really pushing himself really hard," Schiano said. "I think he felt a little nauseous. Nothing big. I think he's fine."
Freeman was taken inside the training facility to be treated for dehydration and returned a few minutes later. He finished practice as did several other players who were overcome by 90-degree temperatures and the tempo of practice at One Buc Place.
"I think it's good training," Schiano said.
Of course he did.
One day after putting players through a conditioning test — 16 110-yard sprints with 45 seconds of rest in between — Schiano directed a 2-hour, 45-minute practice in helmets, T-shirts and shorts that included a pair of five-minute water breaks.
There was no cooldown trailer, no walking to or from the practice fields.
To find a Bucs coach who put his team through conditioning runs on the first day of training camp, you probably have to go back to Sam Wyche during the early 1990s. It's hard to know how many games Schiano will win in his first season, but he's determined to beat the heat.
"It was hot. That's the obvious thing," defensive tackle Gerald McCoy said. "For Day 1, it was a good start. Coach even said he made it a little harder on us on purpose. But we grinded, and he got out of us what he expected."
Say this for Freeman: His teammates will follow him. Cornerback Aqib Talib, guard Carl Nicks, tight end Collin Franklin and linebacker Mason Foster suffered cramps from dehydration, but they pushed ahead.
"Now we get into the grind," Schiano said. "Just reload and do it again. Meet and sleep and practice and eat and practice and meet and eat. That's training camp. We need to make sure it's productive, it's efficient and that we're getting better every step of the way."
Under the new collective bargaining agreement, two-a-days are a thing of the past. However, rather than break up the practices with a morning and afternoon session, players have to endure the longer workout.
"Quite frankly, it would be better to have two and shorten them up," Schiano said.
There were highlights on the field. Freeman hit some deep balls. Rookie running back Doug Martin looked quick. The defense hustled to the football.
"The most important thing is this team coming together as a team and as a family," Schiano said. "Pressing through 2 hours and 45 minutes in the heat — that's how it happens. Doing the easy things doesn't really bring you together. It's doing the tough stuff."
Rick Stroud can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and can be heard from 6 to 9 a.m. weekdays on WDAE-620.