TAMPA — While Bucs players said — at least, publicly — all of the right things Wednesday in supporting the decision to bench QB Josh Freeman in favor of rookie Mike Glennon, it didn't make the news less stunning.
"Everybody was very surprised," DT Gerald McCoy said. "Nobody expected it."
RT Demar Dotson was "shocked," saying the whole time before practice, "you could hear guys rumbling about it, putting their two cents in." LT Donald Penn, one of Freeman's good friends and biggest supporters, said it was a "very tough situation," and he felt bad for the longtime starter. Penn said part of him believes the rest of the offense let Freeman down and the move sends a message.
"We have to go forward," Penn said. "Nobody is feeling sorry for us."
Dotson said the team has to rally behind Glennon, the third-round pick from N.C. State. Coach Greg Schiano said it was an organizational, performance-based decision; that going with Glennon gives them the best chance to win now.
"We're going to see on Sunday, right?" Penn said.
Said WR Mike Williams: "They made the decision for a reason. They didn't make the decision for us to keep losing."
Players praised Glennon, McCoy saying he is poised, smart and has a strong arm.
"He just looks relaxed," McCoy said.
Williams believes Glennon is ready, having already gotten the game plan down.
"He's already been preparing to be the No. 1," Williams said. "And now he's the No. 1."
McCoy said when Schiano met with the captains Wednesday morning to inform them, he asked for their opinions.
"I was the one who defended (Freeman) early in the year, so clearly I made it clear how I feel," McCoy said. "But I also always say I trust the guys upstairs and the decision they made. They made the decision, and we just make the best of it."
LG Carl Nicks who last week said he was "110 percent" behind Freeman, said there will not be any division in the locker room.
"We're all we've got in this locker room," McCoy said. "When we step across those white lines, the coaches don't go with us. We go. So there's no way we can step across those white lines and compete at a high level and expect to win if we're not together. So I don't think you have to worry about any division or the guys starting to point fingers."
While Freeman's days with the team might be numbered, his teammates believe he'll bounce back.
"Josh's situation isn't the end of his career," G Davin Joseph said. "I think he has a lot of football left in him"
PALMER PIQUED: Before the team benched Freeman, it apparently had its doubts in the offseason, showing a lot of interest in veteran Carson Palmer. Palmer, 33, set to start for the Cardinals on Sunday against the Bucs, said Wednesday that before getting traded from Oakland in April, Tampa Bay made several calls to his agent. And Palmer said the interest was mutual.
"I was very interested in a lot of different places and teams and, obviously, was flattered my agent had said Tampa had been contacting him a lot," Palmer said. "I would have been very excited to be there. The organization has a lot of good football players across the board. But I'm excited and happy to be where I am and excited about our future."
MEDICAL MATTERS: WR Vincent Jackson (ribs) and Williams (hamstring) did not participate in Wednesday's practice, though Williams indicated he expects to play Sunday. LG Gabe Carimi (illness) did not participate, and TE Tom Crabtree (ankle) was limited.