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Mike Glennon waits for shot to be Bucs QB

Mike Glennon throws a pass during Bucs training camp. [WILL VRAGOVIC | Times]

Mike Glennon throws a pass during Bucs training camp. [WILL VRAGOVIC | Times]

TAMPA

He is probably the only guy in Tampa Bay who was upset to see Greg Schiano fired as coach of the Bucs.

Mike Glennon. What a bummer.

Schiano might have rubbed most everyone the wrong way, but he was the one coach absolutely convinced Glennon was not only the Bucs' franchise quarterback of the future, but the present.

Schiano was Glennon's biggest fan, and you want your biggest fan wearing a headset on an NFL sideline, not a headset behind a desk at NFL Network.

Now that Schiano is out and Lovie Smith is in as coach, Glennon has gone from starter to backup in a snap. Actually, less than a snap. Without a play being run, Glennon lost his starting job the moment the Bucs signed veteran Josh McCown in March.

So when the Bucs open the preseason tonight in Jacksonville, all eyes will be on McCown and the offense under new coordinator Jeff Tedford. But don't flip the channel when the starters leave the game after a quarter or so. The bulk of the playing time tonight and much of the preseason will go to Glennon, who still might be the Bucs' quarterback of the future.

"He wants to be a starting quarterback in the league,'' Smith said. "Someday he will.''

He will? Here?

He started 13 games last season. Went 4-4 in his final eight starts. He threw 19 touchdowns with only nine interceptions.

But the Bucs had the worst offense in the NFL at 277 yards per game. It wasn't all Glennon's fault. He had so-so weapons and a leaky line.

Yet, gut feeling, based on nothing more than the eye test: Glennon just didn't feel like the next Russell Wilson. I don't know how anyone — besides Schiano — can look at Glennon and make a convincing case that he will someday be a franchise QB.

Well, okay, there is one other person who believes.

"I've always had confidence in myself,'' Glennon said. "I felt like I showed what I could do last year, and I know that I can succeed at this level. I've always had confidence in myself, and I know what I'm capable of doing."

But for now, this is what he is: a third-round pick who had an up-and-down rookie season and is now back to being a backup.

As he starts his second season, it's hard to sum up Glennon's status in this league.

"First of all, I feel a lot further advanced than I did last year,'' Glennon said. "Everything makes a lot more sense out here. The game continues to slow down for me, and I think that's the biggest thing.''

Still, if he was that good, why would the Bucs sign a journeyman with a career record of 16-22 and immediately name him the starter? Then again, if Glennon couldn't play at all, why would the Bucs hang on to him, even in a backup role? And why didn't they take one of the many quarterbacks available to them in the draft, including Johnny Manziel, Teddy Bridgewater and Derek Carr?

"Mike will have a role on our team,'' Smith said. "The backup quarterback plays an important (role).''

Glennon is a hard worker, a smart young man and likeable to everyone. He has a nice frame for a quarterback and an arm that is plenty strong. He's only 24. For those reasons, you want to believe he has a future in the NFL, maybe even here in Tampa Bay. After all, McCown is 35 and seems to be just a Band-Aid for a year or two, tops.

McCown might be good enough to keep the team out of the bottom third of the league. That means no high draft picks, and that could mean no chance at drafting a franchise quarterback any time soon.

In a year or two, the Bucs might have no choice but to turn to Glennon. And of course, Glennon is always one big hit to McCown from getting his job back.

"Last year, I was in the same position as I am now,'' Glennon said.

He's right. He was the backup to a quarterback named Josh. Last year, it was Freeman. This year, it's McCown.

"I'm just going to go out there and continue to compete and help the team in any way I can,'' Glennon said.

That quote certainly sounds like it came straight from the Nuke LaLoosh book of cliches. But if you know Glennon, you know he's being sincere. He really does just want to do what he can and, like last year, he might end up starting.

"Sometimes, you have one role and we ask you to play another,'' Smith said. "You want to see how guys respond and how they act. You want to be a pro about it — a real pro about it. A professional, and that's what Mike has been. He's done everything we've asked him to do.''

The Bucs will ask him to continue to work hard and be ready when called upon. Certainly, Glennon should get more guidance from McCown than he did from a train wreck such as Freeman.

"Whatever we ask him to do,'' Smith said, "he'll do it well."

If all goes well, here's what the Bucs will ask Glennon to do: carry a clipboard and learn a few things about how to be a starting quarterback someday.

Assuming that day ever comes.

Mike Glennon waits for shot to be Bucs QB 08/07/14 [Last modified: Thursday, August 7, 2014 10:15pm]
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