Tampa Bay Team Report Week Nine

Josh Freeman hopes to show his gunslinger side when the Bucs take the field against the Green Bay Packers. Read on to find out the latest moves the Buccaneers have made, what the team thinks about wearing the throwback uniforms, who the newest kicker for the Bucs is, and what happened between Aqib Talib and Raheem Morris in London.

Rookie quarterback Josh Freeman said he is ready to "let it rip," in his first NFL start Sunday against the Green Bay Packers.

"I feel really comfortable with the offense right now. I've been working really hard with (offensive coordinator Greg) Olson and I feel comfortable with a lot of the guys I'm throwing to. I just want to go out there and let it rip."

At 21, Freeman will become the youngest quarterback to start for the Bucs when he makes his long-awaited debut Sunday at Raymond James Stadium. Tampa Bay will be wearing their throwback orange jerseys for the first time since 1996, and Lee Roy Selmon will be the first inductee into the team's Ring of Honor.

Freeman, the 17th overall draft pick, played two series in a 35-7 loss to the New England Patriots on Oct. 25 in London. He completed 2-of-4 passes for 16 yards and was sacked twice. But the baptism was enough for Freeman to realize that the Packers and others teams will try to put a lot of pressure on him.

"I learned that teams are probably going to bring a lot at me as far as blitzes, which I'm prepared for because that opens a lot of stuff up down the field and in the middle of the field," Freeman said. "There was that, and also, it felt good just to be back out there, stepping into the huddle, just calling the plays and just getting my feet wet again. I'm really excited about the opportunity to get a whole game in this Sunday."

Bucs scouting director Doug Williams, who watched a lot of film of Freeman from Kansas State and in practice with the Bucs, said the 6-foot-6 passer is not afraid to throw the football downfield.

"I think you've got a gunslinger in him," Williams said, "I've been watching practice every day. I've been going in watching tape. I think he's a guy who's going to take more chances than a lot of people. I think if you look at the quarterbacks that have been successful, they've kind of got a gunslinger mentality. You've got a 40-year-old playing in Minnesota. That's all he's ever done is take chances. At the same time, he's got some guys who understand if he's going to take chances, they're going to make some plays for him. And that's what I'm saying we're going to do. We've got to have those players who believe that Josh is going to get it downfield, so I've just got to find a way to come up with the football. So I do think he's got a gunslinger mentality.

"He's going to make some mistakes and we've all got to live with it. But I think the more he plays, the better he's going to become and understand that there's a time to take chances and a time not to."

Freeman will be the Bucs' third starting quarterback in the past eight games, but coach Raheem Morris doesn't plan on having a quick hook. Morris was the defensive coordinator at Kansas State in 2006 when he watched Freeman take over the huddle as a true freshman and pronounced Freeman the club's "franchise quarterback," upon drafting him.

A strong arm and willingness to take chances with passes down the field is becoming more of a staple at the quarterback position in the NFL. It also has contributed to 81 touchdowns of 50-yards or more in the NFL through Week 8, the most since 1970.

The Bucs returned from their bye week as the NFL's only winless team at 0-7 and the sad owners of the league's longest losing streak at 11.

Rarely does something fall that far that fast without wearing a parachute.

Victories Sunday by the Rams and Titans left the Bucs locked alone in the basement of the 32-team league as the only team still searching for a win.

"We all want to win, man. Nobody wants to be 0-7," quarterback Byron Leftwich said. "Think about it.

"This makes you don't even want to go out, you don't want to show your face. It's not a good feeling."

On Tuesday, Bucs coach Raheem Morris attempted a little reverse psychology by showing his team a highlight reel of sorts from the first seven games. Yes, it lasted more than a few minutes.

"I showed them everything we've done well," Morris said. "We had some players stand out the first half of the season. We had Kellen Winslow do well at times. We had Cadillac (Williams) do well at times, Derrick Ward do well at times, Michael Clayton the first game of the season, A.B. (Antonio Bryant) had his ups and downs. It's time to stop all the excuses and everybody has got to go out there and play together."

Said Bryant: "The thing to me that bothers me the most is we haven't won a game since that Carolina game. That's what I'm looking at. So the record is like 0-11 to me. I hope some guys consider that as well. Where did we go wrong? I think you don't want to put yourself in a position that you forget how to win."

NOTES, QUOTES

--Bucs coach Raheem Morris denied a radio report that CB Aqib Talib swore at him after being confronted in the team's London hotel lobby for missing curfew.

Morris said Talib was one of a few players who missed the after-game curfew by going out for dinner with their wives or teammates, adding the situation has been handled internally. According to the 620-AM report, Talib directed profanity toward Morris when the first-year coach confronted him in the hotel.

"I've never ever once been disrespected by Talib -- in life. Never," Morris said.

"Myself and Talib, we have a great relationship. I don't think we've ever had an argument. Now I've yelled at him before, but I don't know that we've had an argument before."

--Bucs players are excited to wear the throwback orange uniforms Sunday, when Hall of Fame DE Lee Roy Selmon will be inducted into the new Bucs Ring of Honor and the 1979 club that reached the NFC title game will be given a tribute.

"We're honoring the legendary Buc -- the guy who started it off around here," DT Chris Hovan said. "Whatever uniforms they put on us, we have to go out and get a victory. There's a lot to play for, the fans will be great. ... It's old school, new school."

--The Bucs' offense is averaging 13.7 points per game and ranked 28th in the NFL. But coach Raheem Morris believes that this unit will have to lead Tampa Bay out of an 0-7 start.

"I also talked to my offense today, challenged those guys about their demeanor in practice and how they're doing and how they finish," Morris said. "They've got to be the lifeline a little bit and I'm asking them to be. They've got the seniority, they've got the vets on that side of the ball, it's their turn to stand up, it's their turn to lead us, it's their turn to do it.

"Since I came in '02 and '08, we've been led by the defense. We've been driven by the defense. We've had guys over there that's led us and done a great job. But now it's their time a little bit (on offense). So let's see what they can do, let's see if they can lead us. Now, if the defense catches them and pass and they become the leaders, then that's great, too."

BY THE NUMBERS: 2 -- The number of field goals the Bucs have made all season, fewest in the NFL.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "I think there's a reason they changed the color scheme." -- Bucs C Jeff Faine on whether he likes the team's old orange uniforms.

STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL

The Bucs signed their third kicker on Tuesday -- Conner Barth, who made 10-of-12 field goals for the Kansas City Chiefs last season, was signed after a workout to replace Shane Andrus.

The Bucs have made an NFL low two field goals this season. Andrus, who was 0-for-1 in FG tries, had replaced PK Mike Nugent after four games. Nugent was 2-for-6.

The Bucs also signed CB Mike Mickens from the Dallas Cowboys practice squad and released CB Marcus McCauley.

PLAYER NOTES

--QB Josh Freeman says the Bucs will not scale back the offense when he makes his first NFL start Sunday against the Packers.

--CB Aqib Talib, who leads the Bucs with four interceptions, sprained his ankle in practice Tuesday and was limited Wednesday. He is expected to play.

--WR Antonio Bryant benefited from the bye week by rehabbing his knee. He participated fully in practice on Tuesday.

--PK Conner Barth made all five of his field goal attempts during the place-kicking period of practice Tuesday, making a good impression on his new teammates.

--G Jeremy Zuttah injured his shoulder in practice on Wednesday and was limited. He is expected to play against the Packers.


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