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Not much practice for Tampa Bay Buccaneers and rookie quarterback Josh Freeman

Bucs coach Raheem Morris, right, with assistant Todd Wash, had limited practice for the team last week, just 21/2 hours.

DANIEL WALLACE | Times

Bucs coach Raheem Morris, right, with assistant Todd Wash, had limited practice for the team last week, just 21/2 hours.

TAMPA — The words still roll smoothly off the tongue of Raheem Morris.

Tough. Physical. Violent. Practice in pads. Core beliefs.

But in practice — or very little practice, as the case was during the bye week — they seem like empty slogans.

Morris' team is 0-7 and making a change at quarterback to rookie Josh Freeman. It's the perfect opportunity to make the switch, with an extra week to prepare for Freeman's start Nov. 8 against the Packers.

The rest of the team could benefit from practice, too, or so it would seem, considering the Bucs are ranked 28th in the NFL in offense and 27th in defense.

So how much work on the field did Freeman and the Bucs get during the bye week? Try 2½ hours. That's it. What's more, Tampa Bay's 65-minute practice Wednesday was mostly 7-on-7; the offensive and defensive linemen essentially sat it out.

Considering that the Bucs traveled to London on Oct. 23 and had their walk-through canceled the next day, it means the Bucs will have practiced 2½ hours in 12 days until they return to work Tuesday.

Did it dawn on Morris — or general manager Mark Dominik, for that matter — to maybe adjust the practice schedule given the team's horrible start?

"No, we set the schedule up a while ago," Morris said. "You make the decision long before you go into the bye week with what you are going to do, whether you are 0-7 or 7-0. That really didn't matter. What we did (Thursday) was the preparation and the fundamental core beliefs with these guys. We got a chance to get Josh implemented to be a starter and get done what he needed to get done. We'll come back and get two weeks of practice. We had one day (Wednesday) of preparation, and we'll come back the following week and get done what we need to get done."

Morris acknowledged there wasn't any game-planning for the Packers on Wednesday to prepare Freeman.

"It was mostly all 7-on-7s," Morris said Wednesday. "We had a little bit of individual period and have some one-on-one fundamental stuff. We got our fundamental core beliefs in, and we got some of our passing things done. Hopefully we'll come out (Thursday) and get half a practice in and get out of here."

Get out of here? Does that sound tough, physical, violent or like a core belief?

Even more unusual was Morris giving his team four consecutive days off. Often, NFL coaches don't want their players away from the game that long. Even Freeman had a flight booked to his home in Kansas City on Thursday.

Contrast that with the approach 49ers coach Mike Singletary had with rookie receiver Michael Crabtree. During the Niners' bye week, Singletary had Crabtree, a contract holdout until October, remain at the team's facility and practice.

Quarterback Alex Smith, who lives in the area, threw to Crabtree. Receivers coach Jerry Sullivan supervised Crabtree's sessions, with help from Wendell Davis, a former teammate of Singletary with the Bears who has been brought in to aid Sullivan in getting Crabtree up to speed. What would he have done if Crabtree were a quarterback?

"He's going to be working. We really want hands-on all the way," Singletary said. "Crabtree wants to play, so he wants to be here."

Freeman suffered from a lack of reps during training camp and the preseason because Morris and his staff were engaged in a futile competition between Byron Leftwich and Luke McCown. So there's no debating whether he could use the extra work, say, during some increased blitz periods, which might require the whole team to practice.

Hey, maybe the long vacation will be just what the Bucs need. Obviously, Morris believes so. Maybe Freeman is further along in his development than anyone imagines.

Morris better hope so, or we'll be talking about another long, good bye.

Not much practice for Tampa Bay Buccaneers and rookie quarterback Josh Freeman 10/31/09 [Last modified: Saturday, October 31, 2009 10:46pm]
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