TAMPA — Even amid a lockout, when there's no football in sight and no labor deal on the horizon, the work of an NFL quarterback doesn't stop.
Though Bucs Josh Freeman, Josh Johnson and Rudy Carpenter have been putting in time on the field during player-only workouts, that's just the beginning of the offseason preparation for the QB trio.
Despite the lockout that prevents players from working with coaches, Freeman, Johnson and Carpenter have been poring over video and playbooks, going about their typically exhaustive offseason regimen.
"I'm just watching a lot of film right now," Freeman said. "Maybe I might see something I missed."
But it's hardly that simple. There are structured methods to this process. The expectations of quarterbacks are so unrealistic that it requires perpetual preparation.
"I think most or all quarterbacks probably do this in the offseason," Carpenter said. "They go back and evaluate, self-scout their own offense to see what they're doing. Also, us as a group, during the season and last season, our coaches have taught us a lot about what kind of tape to watch in the offseason."
Before the lockout, coaches identified specific things to look for. NFC South opponents are high on the list because the teams play twice annually.
"We want to see what kind of new blitzes they used or what kind of coverages they used in the two games that we played them," Carpenter said.
Another task is anticipating tricks that defenses will use next season — whenever it begins.
"We always go back and look at what teams had the best blitz success rate or who was the best against the run or the pass," Carpenter said. "A lot of times, other defensive coordinators will go and say, 'We're going to watch the teams that were successful and use that stuff next year.' We try to stay ahead of the curve so you don't get surprised when you see those things."
And there's much to learn by watching and emulating characteristics of elite quarterbacks such as Tom Brady, Peyton Manning and Drew Brees. You might recall Freeman and Johnson worked out with Brees last summer in San Diego, with Bucs offensive coordinator Greg Olson — one of Brees' former coaches at Purdue — playing matchmaker.
A benefit of all the work the quarterbacks are putting in is that it will help them conduct efficient workouts during the lockout. They can impart much of what they've learned on their teammates and incorporate elements into the workouts.
"As the summer progresses, we're going to start doing more of the X's and O's," Freeman said. "Nothing's really changing as far as our system. There will be some nuances that change, but we can't really talk to coaches.
"But before the lockout, I held on to my playbook from last year, and I've been going over things. And I took a lot of notes. I have notebooks of plays, and same thing with Josh and Rudy. We're all very confident in this offense, so we can come out here with confidence and teach guys and direct things."
In the lockout environment, quarterback — more than ever — is a position that requires players to put in a little overtime.
"To get better, there's a lot more to do as a quarterback," Carpenter said, "than just coming out and working out."
GENE'S BACK: The Bucs did a two-year contract extension last week with longtime radio play-by-play man Gene Deckerhoff, meaning he will begin his 23rd season with the team in the fall.
Deckerhoff, who has called 453 Bucs games since joining the organization in 1989, will still work with analyst Dave Moore, a former Bucs tight end. Deckerhoff continues to do play-by-play for Florida State football and basketball games.
Last year, Deckerhoff won his 12th Florida sportscaster of the year award. But mostly, he's looking ahead to what the future holds.
"I've seen a lot," he said in a team release. "I've seen the 3-13 seasons, but by golly there have just been a couple of those, and I've seen a Super Bowl season. One Super Bowl and 22 years — there are not a lot of guys in my business who are in that position. I really think we've got great football ahead of us, too, and I can't wait."
Stephen F. Holder can be reached at [email protected]