TAMPA — During the five weeks Bucs players had off before training camp, rookie quarterback Mike Glennon looked at his smart phone and found another test of his football intelligence. Every 30 minutes or so, a text arrived from Bucs backup quarterback Dan Orlovsky, quizzing him on some aspect of playing the position: a formation, protection, defense or route combination.
"It was just stuff and questions about the offense, and he would be able to fire it back to me," said Orlovsky, who is entering his ninth season in the league and second with the Bucs. "He's been impressive in that role. He's embraced it."
Glennon, a third-round pick from N.C. State, was installed as the No. 2 quarterback behind Josh Freeman prior to training camp and has received the majority of playing time during preseason games.
He will make his first start tonight against the Redskins in the preseason finale for both teams.
Fast-tracking Glennon was the idea of coach Greg Schiano, who said he won't hesitate to go with a first-year player should Freeman falter or become injured.
"I do think that Mike will be ready," Orlovsky said. "He's been impressive with the way he's handled himself, with the way he's handled the offense. He's not scared to rip it, which is a good quality. He can. The ball comes off his hand really nice.
"I think the biggest thing for Mike is he's proven to his teammates he's got something there to him. That will be something he has to continue every week to prove to his teammates that, 'if something does happen, I'm okay, guys.' I think he's started that journey."
Glennon, 23, has not looked overwhelmed during the preseason, but his production has been nothing to get excited about. He leads the Bucs with 334 yards passing and has three touchdowns and two interceptions. His passer rating is 71.1, his completion percentage 48.1 (26-of-54).
"Seeing all these reps is a huge help for me because as a rookie, there are a lot of guys who haven't been able to get as many reps as I've gotten," Glennon said. "Those reps are so important for me and my development."
Meanwhile, Orlovsky has accepted his role as mentor and agreed to the No. 3 quarterback role when he restructured his contract.
"I tell my wife competitively, it (stinks) every day," Orlovsky said.
Glennon has been exposed to critical situations in each preseason game. Last week at Miami, after a turnover, he led the Bucs on a winning 25-yard drive capped by his touchdown pass to David Douglas.
"I guess I will have done it all after this game," Glennon said. "I've come in and played the second and third quarters. I got to play the fourth quarter last game and finish the game out, and now I'll get to start. So I think they set me up to see all different sorts of situations."
Rick Stroud can be reached at [email protected]