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Tampa Bay Buccaneers lean toward keeping four quarterbacks

TAMPA — While news that Byron Leftwich had been named starting quarterback dominated the day at One Buc Place, there was a secondary development of note: Coach Raheem Morris is leaning toward keeping all four of his quarterbacks.

Recent speculation had focused on the "loser" of the quarterback derby possibly getting traded. But in his Saturday news briefing, Morris revealed that his plans heading into the season opener Sept. 13 against Dallas call for Luke McCown serving as backup to Leftwich, with rookie Josh Freeman wearing an earpiece and holding the clipboard.

That raised the question about fourth-stringer Josh Johnson and his status on the final 53-man roster.

"I'm going to keep the best players on the team — I've said that from the beginning, the best 53," Morris said. "Josh Johnson showed a lot of savvy and poise. If Freeman is (eventually) going to be the leader of this football team, you want to have a young guy like Josh (Johnson) around — smart, savvy, going into a game to get you through. Athletic, (good) decisionmaker. Doesn't need many reps to go do it. Is he one of my best 53? Probably. … We have a long-term plan, and Josh Johnson may be part of that long-term plan."

A handful of players learned they won't be part of it, as the club waived injured WR Kelly Campbell (quad) and released DE Jarrett Buie, DB DeAngelo Willingham and G Julius Wilson. That left Morris with one more roster cut to make by Tuesday to get down to the mandatory 75-man roster limit.

"We'll kind of figure that out as we go; we don't have to make that decision until Tuesday," Morris said. "It's good for your team to always feel like that, a little bit of an edge. You talk about that 53rd man really being important. We really mean it. So we want to make these guys work for it."

Jaws and JG: The NFL preview issue of ESPN the Magazine features a breezy exchange between Monday Night Football commentators Ron Jaworski and former Bucs coach Jon Gruden on the NFC South. Gruden starts by picking the Saints "to steamroll everyone with their ability to score on every possession." Jaworski remarks that the Panthers merit attention with their strong running game. "I have a hard time rooting for the Panthers," Gruden answers. "They broke my heart so many times." Adds Jaworski: "So did the Buccaneers. They just lost a certain Super Bowl-winning head coach." Gruden's reply: "Seriously! How could they fire a coach with a winning record?"

Clayton's status: WR Michael Clayton, nursing a strained hamstring that kept him out of the Miami game, isn't sure whether he will play in the preseason finale Friday against Houston. "I don't know — the last preseason game, a lot of guys are on the bubble; for a lot of young guys, it's an opportunity for them to get a resume," he said. "It means a lot more to the younger guys than the veteran guys. But we will get a good workout in this week and prepare ourselves for Dallas coming in. These next two weeks are going to be real critical for the veterans and the guys who we know are going to be in the positions we have."

Miscellany: Morris canceled today's practice. "(We will) get off our feet a little bit, get home, see our family," he said.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers lean toward keeping four quarterbacks 08/29/09 [Last modified: Sunday, August 30, 2009 8:43am]

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