Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Tampa Bay Buccaneers rookie QB Josh Freeman ends up-and-down first week of camp with a good day

TAMPA — Byron Leftwich can vividly recall what it was like being the seventh overall pick in the 2003 NFL draft, and the memories are not at all fond.

"I don't want to go through that no more," he said. "Nobody wants to be a rookie. Everything goes so fast. It takes time to adjust to it."

He knows how Bucs rookie quarterback Josh Freeman feels. Leftwich has played a major role in helping the first-round pick navigate the difficult transition from college.

The process is well under way after a week of training camp, and Freeman is learning that it takes a headstrong individual to complete it.

Though there was a time he looked like he might challenge Leftwich and Luke McCown for the starting job in the fall, the reality is that Freeman has been predictably uneven, like most quarterbacks his age.

But Freeman, 21, has come to grips with it.

"One thing you have to remember is that (your performance) is never as good as you think it is and it's never as bad as you think it is," Freeman said Friday, one of his better days in camp.

"Some days have been good. Some days have been bad."

No one associated with the Bucs organization has predicted that Freeman would be the opening day starter, but no one has said that was out of reach, either.

Freeman, who left Kansas State after his junior season, was anointed the future franchise quarterback on the day he was drafted in April. Even now, there is little hesitation to say that is his position.

"Josh Freeman was brought here to be our franchise guy," coach Raheem Morris said Friday.

Leftwich had the same responsibility placed on his shoulders in Jacksonville. What he lacked was perspective.

"I thought I'd have won five Super Bowls in Jacksonville," he said. "But the longer you stay in this league, the more you understand you still have to have high expectations, but you have to understand how to achieve those expectations."

That's beginning to happen with Freeman.

With Leftwich and McCown taking a limited number of snaps Friday, Freeman got a chance to lead the offense for much of the full-team portions of practice. Among his feats was a series in which he positioned the offense for a tying field goal in a two-minute drill simulation and a touchdown pass to tight end Jerramy Stevens in a red zone period.

On the days things haven't clicked for Freeman, Leftwich's advice has been critical.

"The last time we got a big dose of Josh Freeman, he didn't have a great day," Morris said.

"He was distraught at himself and came in and gave you that … 'Dude, I don't throw interceptions. I can't believe I did that.' ''

Rather than fret over it, coaches want Freeman to learn from it. His makeup suggests he'll continue to do that.

"He's been raised very well by his family," quarterbacks coach Greg Olson said. "He's a strong character guy."

Freeman is learning from his highs and lows. And he is refining his game; an example is his effort to use more touch on certain passes.

"There's a time and a place for firing it in there," Freeman said. "There's also a place for taking a little off of it and giving a receiver the best chance to catch it."

And he is far more confident in the huddle and under center.

"I'd say maybe the first time I stepped in there, I might have had this really long call," he said. "You're like, 'Man, I hope I remember this play.' But you get to a point where you can just step in there and spit it out. I think I've come a long way in that respect.

"Also, you start understanding the play. You start thinking, 'If the safety comes, what's my call? If the corner comes, what's my call? What if they rotate strong?' It's coming along."

After Freeman's first six days, the rookie is pretty much where the Bucs thought he'd be.

"He's going through the process," Morris said.

"But the talent is clear-cut."

Stephen F. Holder can be reached at

Tampa Bay Buccaneers rookie QB Josh Freeman ends up-and-down first week of camp with a good day 08/07/09 [Last modified: Saturday, August 8, 2009 1:37pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. The Lightning's 2017-18 road jersey
  2. For starters: Ramus to DL, Peterson back, no further moves


    We were expecting a flurry of roster moves this afternoon and we got one. OF Colby Ramus is on the 10-day disabled list retroactive to June 19 with left hip tendinitis.

    Colby Ramus is on the 10-day disabled list retroactive to June 19 with left hip tendinitis.
  3. Jameis Winston stats: How the Bucs QB performed under pressure


    Every quarterback's performance declines when he faces pressure from the defense.

    Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston faced pressure on more than 30 percent of his pass plays last season. [LOREN ELLIOTT | Times]
  4. Could Lightning deal for a defenseman today?


    Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman has been trying to further bolster his blueline, and he may have a chance to acquire one by tonight's first round of the NHL Draft.

    The Lightning is reportedly in on Travis Hamonic (Islanders), though New York is rumored to be asking for two-first round picks.
  5. SI ranks Quinton Flowers on top 100, above Deondre Francois


    Sports Illustrated's ongoing countdown of the top 100 players in college football includes some high praise for USF quarterback Quinton Flowers.