Friday, May 25, 2018
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Trimmed-down Josh Freeman growing as Tampa Bay Buccaneers' quarterback

TAMPA — He has lost 20 pounds, dramatically altering his physical appearance, and has shorter hair. But Josh Freeman believes he is still growing as a quarterback.

Along with his shrinking waistline, the 6-foot-6, 237-pounder knows he must reduce his interceptions and says he will benefit from a new coach, offensive coordinator and supporting cast.

One year after throwing 25 touchdowns and six interceptions, Freeman fell to 16 touchdowns and 22 interceptions last season. The result was a 4-12 record and a hit to his reputation as a rising young quarterback.

"Last season, a lot of things didn't go our way," Freeman said. "A lot of things didn't go my way. But in that, there's a lot to learn from the standpoint of trying to step out of the system, trying to make too many plays, trying to do things when in actuality, as a quarterback, the offense is going to get you there."

Between the firing of coach Raheem Morris and the hiring of Greg Schiano, Freeman decided to rededicate himself to his craft. The first step was getting into the best physical condition of his life. Freeman cut out late-night runs to Taco Bell and hooked up with Grant Gregory, the former Kansas State and Tampa Bay Storm quarterback who worked as a trainer in Harbour Island.

Gregory, who is described by Freeman as always carrying Tupperware "with vegetables, chicken, all that stuff," taught Freeman to eat properly. That and a workout regimen put in place by Bucs strength and conditioning coach Jay Butler enabled Freeman to go from 257 pounds to 237.

"It was a number of lifestyle changes," Freeman said. "After the season last year, the time in between coaches, I had a good discussion with (former offensive coordinator) Greg Olson, and we talked about a number of things, one of which was trying to be at your best, trying to be a pro at everything, not just football, but in your life, lifestyle habits. … I wanted to take the steps and be excellent with my diet, with exercise, with working out year round."

"Everybody is like, 'Oh, did you get faster? Did you lose a little strength?' I can't say I got noticeably faster. I can't say I got noticeably stronger or weaker. But I feel good. Flexibility, throwing the ball. … I feel physically great."

Freeman's decline last season mirrored that of his teammates. Mike Williams was among the league leaders in dropped passes, and the run game struggled.

"We had a lot of breakdowns in a lot of areas," guard Davin Joseph said. "Up front, I didn't feel we played good enough to help Josh. There were a lot of players who could've done better for Josh. We like to focus in on the quarterback a lot. You give him all the praise when he wins, all the bad when the team loses. But we forget it's a team sport.."

This offseason, the Bucs filled a grocery list of needs on offense for Freeman, starting with the signings of receiver Vincent Jackson and guard Carl Nicks and drafting of running back Doug Martin in the first round.

"He has a bad taste in his mouth about last year and has a focus about him," offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan said. "There's a look in his eye that's kind of similar to the look in Eli Manning's eye as far as having a bad year and hearing some criticism and wanting to put that behind him and move forward. He's putting in the time, he's putting in the work and progressing nicely and getting into a good rhythm with his receivers and developing a command of the offense."

How big is this year for Freeman? His contract runs through 2013, and he and the Bucs would like to work toward an extension. That's the real skinny.

"Each year, you constantly learn and grow," Freeman said. "That's what I've got to keep doing this year, finding ways whether it be in practice, in preparation, in footwork, throwing the ball — constantly trying to improve."

Comments
Bucs’ Ali Marpet: NFL flip-flopping on anthem policy ‘a little bit odd’

Bucs’ Ali Marpet: NFL flip-flopping on anthem policy ‘a little bit odd’

TAMPA — This much is clear: The National Football League is focused on getting rid of kneeling players.That was the league's announcement Wednesday in requiring players to stand during the national anthem before games or possibly have their tea...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Bucs sign defensive tackle Vita Vea, cornerback Carlton Davis to four-year deals

Bucs sign defensive tackle Vita Vea, cornerback Carlton Davis to four-year deals

Two high draft picks that could earn starting jobs signed four year contracts with the Bucs Thursday.The team signed Washington defensive tackle Vita Vea, the team's first-round pick.Terms of the deal were not released, but Vea  is expected to r...
Updated: 10 hours ago
Bucs union rep Ali Marpet questions legality of the NFL’s new anthem policy

Bucs union rep Ali Marpet questions legality of the NFL’s new anthem policy

Bucs offensive lineman Ali Marpet questioned the legality of the NFL's new  policy that requires players to stand for the national anthem if they are on the field during the performance but gives them the option to remain in the locker room if t...
Published: 05/24/18
Licht promotes three in Bucs’ scouting department

Licht promotes three in Bucs’ scouting department

The dust has settled from another NFL draft, and Bucs general manager Jason Licht has made three promotions in his scouting department as a new year of player evaluation begins.Byron Kiefer, entering his 14th season with the Bucs and fourth as a nati...
Published: 05/24/18
NFL’s new anthem policy requires players to stand on sideline or remain in locker room

NFL’s new anthem policy requires players to stand on sideline or remain in locker room

ATLANTA — The NFL and the owners of its 32 teams enacted a new national anthem policy Wednesday designed, they said, to compel players to stand if they’re on the sideline for the playing of the anthem prior to a game."Clearly our objective as a leagu...
Published: 05/23/18
Bucs bring back Lakewood’s Bernard Reedy to compete for WR/KR job

Bucs bring back Lakewood’s Bernard Reedy to compete for WR/KR job

Lakewood grad Bernard Reedy, who handled the Bucs' kickoff and punt returns for much of last season, is back with Tampa Bay again.Reedy, 26, was signed on Wednesday, one day after the Bucs began OTA workouts. Thomas Sperbeck, the former Boise State r...
Published: 05/23/18
NFL policy: Players can stay inside during anthem if they won’t stand

NFL policy: Players can stay inside during anthem if they won’t stand

NFL owners passed a new policy Wednesday with the hopes of moving on from boycotts and political turmoil related to some players protesting by not standing during the national anthem before games.Under the new policy, NFL players are not required to ...
Published: 05/23/18
New Super Bowls: Arizona in 2023, New Orleans in 2024

New Super Bowls: Arizona in 2023, New Orleans in 2024

And you thought our headline would be "Mariota hosts NFL draft before Winston."The NFL owners are meeting in Atlanta this week, and that means a new batch of future Super Bowls getting announced for their homes.A year ago, Tampa got the huge news, an...
Published: 05/23/18
Winston: Bucs’ Ryan Jensen ‘one of the toughest, meanest, baddest centers’

Winston: Bucs’ Ryan Jensen ‘one of the toughest, meanest, baddest centers’

It's hard to miss new Bucs center Ryan Jensen at OTA workouts this week, with his long red hair visible from across the field even when he's wearing a helmet."Any recommendations for anti frizz shampoo and conditioner?" Jensen wrote on Twitter with a...
Published: 05/23/18
Gerald McCoy appreciates help on D-line, but knows it will take more than names on paper

Gerald McCoy appreciates help on D-line, but knows it will take more than names on paper

TAMPA — He's 30."I know. I'm getting old," Gerald McCoy said Tuesday, shaking his head.He's still a young man, of course. But in football years, McCoy has finally reached a black balloon birthday. This is his ninth season with the Bucs, which i...
Published: 05/22/18