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Josh Freeman depends on Tampa Bay Buccaneer WRs to develop quickly

Bucs rookie receiver Mike Williams, at left with veteran Michael Clayton, was consistent during offseason workouts.

DANIEL WALLACE | Times

Bucs rookie receiver Mike Williams, at left with veteran Michael Clayton, was consistent during offseason workouts.

TAMPA — So, you think you're curious to see how the Buccaneers' hodgepodge at receiver shakes out?

Imagine the angst of QB Josh Freeman.

His development and improvement this season quite literally lie in the hands of the men he'll be throwing to, many of whom remain unproven or inexperienced.

So, yeah, Freeman's a bit anxious to see what the Bucs have at receiver.

"One of the reasons I'm really excited about this training camp is because I'm going to get a chance to see (guys like) Mike Williams when it's hot, when his legs are tired, when the stakes are high, when everybody's pushing," Freeman said.

There were some promising moments from this young group during offseason workouts, with fourth-round draft choice Williams, in particular, showing the most consistency. Even a veteran afterthought such as Reggie Brown impressed coaches with his work ethic and precise route-running. Meanwhile, Micheal Spurlock did his best to convince the staff that he is more than a return specialist, and he made a pretty convincing argument. Second-round pick Arrelious Benn had his moments, too.

But Freeman, though just 22, is wise enough to know that none of those things will matter once the dog days of training camp start. The pads will go on and the pressure will be turned up.

At that point, the Bucs will really start to learn who these guys are.

"You have the guys that we had all during the offseason working, and trust me, we were out here working," Freeman said. " … But at the same time, it's going to be the guys who can do it the best for us on Sundays."

McCoy's contract: The Rams were scheduled to sit down with the representatives for No. 1 overall pick Sam Bradford on Friday, presumably to begin contract talks.

Which is good news for Bucs fans.

Tampa Bay DT Gerald McCoy, the third overall pick, remains unsigned. But keep in mind that he is represented by the same firm as Bradford. That's important because draft pick negotiations have, in part, become a waiting game. Agents stall while players chosen in the same vicinity of the draft sign their deals, giving the agents a better sense of whether their own clients' contracts are competitive.

In the case of Bradford and McCoy, the agents will be privy to the parameters of the respective contract talks, theoretically making the need to wait around less of an issue.

If McCoy's camp knows what Bradford is likely to sign for, and it certainly will, there might be less of a need to wait for final numbers.

That said, as of a few days ago, nothing substantive had happened between the Bucs and McCoy's reps, so there's still a good chance these contract talks could go down to the wire.

And the deal signed by No. 2 overall pick Ndamukong Suh with Detroit could affect McCoy's negotiations (he has different representation). Finally, there's nothing particularly easy about negotiating a deal that should exceed $50 million based on the contract given to last year's No. 3 pick, Kansas City DL Tyson Jackson — five years, $57 million.

But McCoy has said he wants very much to be in camp on the first day, so perhaps that will be a factor. Expect talks between McCoy and the Bucs to heat up this week.

The Bucs anticipate signing second-round picks Brian Price and Benn soon.

Bucs bits: Coach Raheem Morris, hanging out at Freeman's youth football camp last week, said he anticipates recently signed Keydrick Vincent competing at left guard with Jeremy Zuttah. That position had no real competition last year as Zuttah was thrust into the starting role after Arron Sears' personal issues forced his hiatus from football, one that ultimately could result in his career ending. … Morris added that TE Kellen Winslow, the club's leading receiver last season, should be in great shape for training camp despite his offseason knee surgery. The procedure was a minor arthroscopic process, but Winslow's long history of knee problems always creates some anxiety.

Stephen F. Holder can be reached at sholder@sptimes.com.

Josh Freeman depends on Tampa Bay Buccaneer WRs to develop quickly 07/17/10 [Last modified: Sunday, July 18, 2010 11:07am]
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