LONDON — QB Josh Freeman returned home Monday as the likely starter for the Bucs when they begin the second half of their season after this week's bye.
But regarding his first game action in nearly two months, he said he felt comfortable during his regular-season debut against the Patriots.
"It's hard to use the word rusty because I play football every week," Freeman said. "It's just that I haven't been playing on Sundays. I've been getting work in practice; I've been getting a lot of scout-team reps. I've been working with (coordinator Greg) Olson, and he's brought me along tremendously in the offense. I felt really comfortable out there calling the plays, knowing where the ball needed to go, stuff like that.
"There's always going to be an adjustment. I think that's true with anybody, especially their first snap. It's one of those things where you get better with time."
There will be plenty of preparation time during the next two weeks if Freeman does indeed start Nov. 8 against the Packers. But he wouldn't allow himself to make predictions.
"I'm just going to think about moving forward, getting ready for the Packers and enjoying a little time off with my family," he said.
How did Freeman assess his play in his first appearance, and how did it differ from the preseason?
"I had Junior Seau lining up across from me," he said of the Patriots linebacker. "Everybody on that team made the 53-man roster, and they're all good football players. But honestly, I was just playing football. I would've liked to have gone out and had a better showing, but it is what it is."
London review: As for playing in London in a game that had a Super Bowl atmosphere, Freeman said it was memorable.
"It was an experience of a lifetime," he said. "They're very passionate about sports here. It was a warm welcome. Everybody wanted to shake your hand on the sideline. It was a great feeling. I'm glad we had an opportunity to come here. I'm upset we couldn't perform a little bit better and make it a better game, but I'm sure everybody enjoyed it."
High, lows for Bryant: WR Antonio Bryant scored the Bucs' lone touchdown when he ran by Patriots CB Jonathan Wilhite for a 33-yard score in the second quarter.
Bryant said he had been imploring coaches and QB Josh Johnson to let him take advantage of what Bryant considered a favorable matchup.
But Bryant offset his touchdown with a negative play late in the third quarter. Running a crossing route with plenty of room to run after the would-be catch, Bryant dropped Johnson's pass that would have resulted in a critical first down. Down 28-7, the Bucs needed a score to jump-start a rally, but after the drop, they opted to punt from the Patriots 35.
"There's a lot of plays we could have connected on," Bryant said. "I'm going to put it all on me. We have to play more perfect. I want all the balls that came my way back, period. Maybe I have to dive or something. Maybe I'm just not running fast enough. I don't know. I just have to play more perfect."
It has been that kind of season for Bucs receivers. Many promising plays have been offset by drops. The performance of the receivers Sunday was more critical than usual because the Patriots took TE Kellen Winslow out of the game. The team's leading receiver finished with two catches for 9 yards.
Bye-bye: The bye this week will be a welcome reprieve from this difficult season. It's also, the Bucs hope, a chance to regroup.
"It's just going to be an opportunity for us to get a fresh start and hopefully try to work a couple of things out and try to get a couple of wins this year," C Jeff Faine said.