Josh Freeman's ready to defy skeptics
Second-year QB, a "veteran" on a green crew, sees brighter days ahead for Bucs
Originally Published: August 13, 2010By Adam Schefter | ESPN.com
TAMPA, Fla. -- There's quite the contradiction here, one that defies Florida's trends.Older people usually flock to Florida. Younger players flock to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Tampa Bay's 80-man roster includes only seven players who are 30 or older, and only three of those -- cornerback Ronde Barber (35), fullback Earnest Graham (30) and defensive end Stylez G. White (31) -- can be counted on as starters. The rest of the Buccaneers barely are shaving, if they shave at all.
• Either former first-round pick Michael Clayton or veteran Reggie Brown will not make the Buccaneers' 53-man roster. One of them will have to go. There's just not room for both receivers, not with the talent that Tampa has accumulated at the position. • Few players in the league have more heart than running back Cadillac Williams, who has battled back from two devastating knee injuries. Cadillac Williams might not have the burst he once did, but he's still the Buccaneers' best back. As defenders have already known for years, he is one tough hombre to bring down. • Each team has training camp surprises, players that start the season as unknowns and finish it up well known. Buccaneers running back Kareem Huggins has the chance to be that player for the Buccaneers. After spending last season on Tampa Bay's practice squad, Huggins has the potential to be a dependable weapon on this year's roster. Huggins will make the team and be a significant contributor. • If the Buccaneers have a noticeable weakness, it's the pass rush. They will need White to get good pressure on the quarterback, and they'll need last year's fourth-round pick Kyle Moore to elevate his game. But it will not surprise anyone if, next April, the Buccaneers use their top pick on an end to play next to McCoy. • Anyone who has any questions about Freeman's dedication needed only to be at the Buccaneers' training facility in early July, when most players and NFL employees were on vacation. Out on the practice field, Freeman was spotted throwing passes to tight end Kellen Winslow. Football is Freeman's first, and really only, love. The Buccaneers love his work ethic and his accuracy is notable, too. Last season, Freeman had a higher completion percentage (54.5 percent) than the Detroit Lions' Matthew Stafford (53.3) and the New York Jets' Mark Sanchez (53.8), the two quarterbacks drafted ahead of him. • Don't see why people around the league are down on the Buccaneers. Guard Davin Joseph, left tackle Donald Penn, Winslow, McCoy, linebacker Barrett Ruud, cornerback Aqib Talib and safety Tanard Jackson are building blocks. And Freeman and Mike Williams might be. If they are, this team will be more competitive than people realize. Adam Schefter is an ESPN NFL Insider.
Kim Klement-US PresswireRookie WR Mike Williams is turning heads with his play.