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Former James Madison quarterback Rodney Landers impresses during Tampa Bay Buccaneers rookie minicamp

TAMPA — First-round draft pick Josh Freeman was still the most touted quarterback in the Buccaneers' weekend rookie minicamp.

But coach Raheem Morris said Sunday that another quarterback caught his eye — albeit for reasons other than his quarterbacking ability.

James Madison product Rodney Landers, in camp on a tryout basis, piqued the interest of the team because of his special teams potential. Morris was so curious, he put Landers, 22, through an extra workout after Sunday's final practice to learn more. GM Mark Dominik watched from a distance.

"We had to get another arm in here to play quarterback," Morris said. "We happened to run into an athlete, and he showed some stuff during special teams periods.

"He's a 6-footer who's 220 pounds, moves around pretty good. You want to try to find stuff. I'm a project guy, so I want to see if I can get me a project guy in here to work with. Maybe he comes back. Maybe he's the Wildcat quarterback. I don't know. Maybe he comes back and he's a (defensive back) for you. But he can do some things for you. He's interesting."

As a senior at I-AA James Madison, Landers passed for 1,534 yards, 21 touchdowns and four interceptions and ran for 1,770 yards and 16 touchdowns.

The Bucs made no promises, but Morris maintained they are open to signing a handful of players from the camp beyond the eight undrafted prospects already given contracts.

Bulls stay: Three of the five ex-USF players who attended minicamp have been signed, DE Jarriett Buie said. Buie, an Armwood High graduate, said he had signed along with OT Marc Dile and WR Amarri Jackson. Jackson got a contract out of last year's Bucs rookie minicamp but was cut in June.

NO FREE TIME: Freeman was headed to the airport after the conclusion of the camp, going home to spend time with family. But he made it clear work won't be far from his mind.

Freeman will have his playbook in tow and be in regular contact with quarterbacks coach Greg Olson, who is helping Freeman through the learning process. What the former Kansas State standout accomplished over the weekend will provide a nice starting point.

"I think I did well," he said. "Really, this camp is about getting a basic grasp of the offense as far as the verbiage, stepping in the huddle and saying the play with confidence, understanding the concepts. I think it's definitely a good start."

JUST A TASTE: The rookies who stick around beyond this point will truly be introduced to the NFL in two weeks when they return to the field with the full squad for offseason workouts.

"That was kind of what we talked about (Sunday)," Morris said. "They have to get ready for when the vets are here. You can't go home and sit on your couch and think you're going to be ready when you get back.

"The tempo is going to be a little faster. The guys are going to be a little more intense. Your learning curve will have to go up. I sent them home with a message, and I hope they get it."

Times staff writer Greg Auman contributed to this report.

Former James Madison quarterback Rodney Landers impresses during Tampa Bay Buccaneers rookie minicamp 05/03/09 [Last modified: Monday, May 4, 2009 7:48am]

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