Josh Freeman begins to get comfortable with new Tampa Bay Bucs offense

Bucs quarterback Josh Freeman says new offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan “wants to start real slow, go from the ground up. With a new offense … you need to start with the funda-mentals.”

DANIEL WALLACE | Times (2011)

Bucs quarterback Josh Freeman says new offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan “wants to start real slow, go from the ground up. With a new offense … you need to start with the funda-mentals.”

TAMPA — If you had asked Josh Freeman to speak in detail about the Bucs' offense before this week, the question might have been met with a blank stare.

But now that the team's starting quarterback has had a couple of days of instruction from new offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan, Freeman at least has a reference point for the new scheme.

"It's going to be a variation of the Giants' offense," Freeman said Tuesday. That's no surprise given that Sullivan was hired from the Giants in February.

The Bucs are only beginning to teach their offensive and defensive systems. But the start of the offseason program this week finally enabled players to get an introduction. Coaches were not permitted to work with players until this week, per NFL rules.

"I've just got an idea," Freeman said. "Right now, we're just working on formations, we're getting into (pass) protections, a whole lot of basic procedure of calling the play at the line, all the different cadences."

And that's just a taste of the volumes of info players will have to digest in the coming weeks. For Freeman, it's a pivotal time. Entering his fourth season, he is looking to bounce back from a 22-interception season while grasping a new system.

"I'd probably compare it to my rookie year, learning a new system," Freeman said. "But I have a lot of confidence in the guys around me, whether it's the coaching staff, the other quarterbacks in the quarterback room, as far as sitting down and getting the core of this offense and really learning it going into the season."

Freeman said that Sullivan "wants to start real slow, go from the ground up. With a new offense, an offense with different terminology, you need to start with the fundamentals."

The team is concentrating mostly on strength and conditioning during Phase 1 of the offseason. But before this week, Freeman and some offensive teammates had throwing and catching at the IMG Academies in Bradenton, working on their timing. At One Buc Place, they can't yet do on-field work with coaches, but they can dive into their classroom work.

And at the moment, there's plenty of it.

Around the league: Appeal set for Thursday

NEW YORK — Saints coach Sean Payton, general manager Mickey Loomis and assistant head coach Joe Vitt are set to have their NFL appeals heard Thursday regarding the punishment they've received for their roles in New Orleans' bounty system.

League spokesman Greg Aiello said former Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, now Rams defensive coordinator, did not appeal his indefinite suspension.

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell suspended Payton for all of next season. Loomis was suspended for eight games, Vitt for six, and the Saints were fined $500,000 and docked two second-round draft picks.

Also, Loomis said free agent linebacker David Hawthorne agreed to terms on a five-year contract.

UNIFORMITY: Going for a slightly sleeker but very familiar look, the league's new Nike uniforms were unveiled with one player from each of the 32 teams wearing one. Nike, taking over from Reebok, stayed away from the wild designs it uses with the University of Oregon.

Only the Seahawks changed their look much, adding neon green trim.

Bucs running back LaGarrette Blount could not describe what was new: "I think they just changed the material and slapped the Nike logo on it," he said.

See Blount's not-so-flattering thoughts on Alabama running back Trent Richardson, a potential Bucs pick, at tampabay.com/blogs/bucs/.

CHARGERS: Free agent wide receiver and kick returner Roscoe Parrish, a former star in college at Miami, agreed to a one-year contract.

LIONS: Defensive tackle Nick Fairley, a first-round pick out of Auburn last year, was arrested in Mobile, Ala., Alabama on a charge of possessing marijuana, authorities said.

JETS: Former pro rugby player Hayden Smith, 26, who has never played a down of football, signed and will try out as a tight end.

ARENA LEAGUE: The Storm added linebacker Steve Octavien and placed linebacker David Akinniyi (arm) on injured reserve. Octavien, 6 feet and 254 pounds, played at Nebraska then in the NFL with the Chiefs, Redskins Cowboys and Browns. He played last season for Omaha in the UFL.

Information from Times wires was used in this report.

Josh Freeman begins to get comfortable with new Tampa Bay Bucs offense 04/03/12 [Last modified: Wednesday, April 4, 2012 12:04am]

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