Bucs offensive coordinator Greg Olson coached a young, skinny quarterback at Purdue named Drew Brees. Now he has asked Brees if he could spend some time in the off-season with Bucs rookie quarterback Josh Freeman.
Brees said even if the teams are in the same division, he will give a few pointers to Freeman in the off-season.
On Sunday, Freeman hopes he's not schooled by Brees.
The Saints are marching toward an undefeated season with a 9-0 record. Certainly the Bucs would love to spoil the party Sunday at Raymond James Stadium.
"That's always fun. That's the easy part," Bucs coach Raheem Morris said. "That's the part that makes everybody motivated, to play spoiler. Go in there and get a chance to beat this team. There's no secret -- I'm sure (Sean) Payton is telling those guys, 'Hey, this team has beaten us three out of the last four times we've met.' I'm sure he's telling them that. I'm sure he's getting those guys motivated in the same way. It's a division game -- that's one. It's guys that don't like us and we don't like them.
"There's no secret there. It's going to be a lot of fun to go play this game. It always is. It's always high scoring; it's always at least high-yardage. And there's always a bunch of turnovers, or not, and that's always the determining factor in who wins the football game."
But Freeman has engineered fourth-quarter drives in each of the past two games.
Does Freeman have that knack for performing under pressure?
"I don't know really," Morris said. "That's a weird question because they're all different. Brett (Favre) was high motored, energy, high fives, slaps, talking smack to Warren Sapp and now talking smack to whomever he's playing against. He's a different type of guy. That's how Brett is. Josh (Freeman) is more of a laid back guy. He's cool, calm demeanor, very rarely raises his voice, very rarely gets upset, kind of tells everyone what to do, knows exactly what to do, really smart. Maybe he's like a Troy Aikman or somebody like that, I don't know. I just wasn't around those types of quarterbacks.
"He's more of an even-keeled guy, so I don't know which one works more. The only things you can base him on and judge him on are obviously their stats, what happened in the fourth quarter. He's been up there with those elite type of names right now and it's only two games. We have to see, let him keep growing. Let's be patient and see what he can be. But if he continues down this road, then maybe he turns those fourth quarters into three more in front of that and who knows what you got. We'll all be excited and we'll all be ready to jump on board."
The Saints know that with a perfect record, they're going to get the Bucs' best shot.
"Any team that plays against the best, you look at the No. 1 team in college football. They are going to get the best shot of who they are playing week in and week out. I think
--Bucs coach Raheem Morris was fined $20,000 by the NFL for verbally abusing an official in Sunday's loss at
Morris was flagged for an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty during the second quarter against the Dolphins. Back judge Greg Wilson assessed the penalty. Morris declined to criticize officials in his comments to the media, but he admitted to using foul language against the officials.
The dispute stemmed from a would-be reception by Michael Clayton that was ruled an interception by Jason Taylor after a replay review. After Morris' penalty, the Dolphins took possession at the
"I learned my lesson," Morris said. "It was my fault. I made a mistake. No doubt about it."
--The Bucs are encouraged that guard Arron Sears has returned to the team, but general manager Mark Dominik said it would be 'wishful thinking,' for the third year pro to contribute in 2009.
"I would say it would in my mind be wishful thinking to think he could contribute this year because he has to get in football shape, No. 1," Dominik said. "He's got to get comfortable in a playbook that he doesn't know, No. 2. And that's a lot to ask over the last seven weeks of the regular season."
Dominik said Sears will be working with strength and conditioning coach Kurtis Shultz and will not practice with the team or attend meetings, even though he is eligible to do so. The Bucs also are not making Sears available to the media this week.
The Bucs have a two-week roster exemption with Sears before they have to decide to either place him on another reserve list or activate him.
"It's been a difficult process," Dominik said. "He's spent a lot of time working through this and I would say over the last couple weeks it's kind of come to this date where we were comfortable enough."
Dominik said the Bucs put Sears through a conditioning test last week and he wasn't in shape.
--The Bucs had no sacks and just two quarterback pressures last week at
"No, I wouldn't say it's a step back," Morris said. "This is a max-pro team, it was a different type of team than the Green Bay Packers. They're not five-out where you can get at those guys more in one-on-one protection. These guys have more max-pro protections and things of that nature. I wouldn't say it's a step back. You'd always like to get to the quarterback. I don't know if you're going to get six sacks every week but you'd like to get there a couple times. We still should get there a couple times, still have to make some progress. We've all got to get better. There's no doubt about that. We'll get the guys out there with another opportunity this week. Here's another opportunity to go get the 9-0 Saints."
BY THE NUMBERS: 31 - The Bucs' ranking against the run. They're giving up an average of 167.3 rushing yards per game.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "Not great. I mean the guy hasn't played organized football since early April, so he needs to work on getting himself in physical condition." -- Bucs GM Mark Dominik on Arron Sears.
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
The Bucs are hopeful to get Antonio Bryant back. But if that is not the case, WR Maurice Stovall will start Sunday. Stovall has done a nice job in relief the past two weeks, receiving his most extensive playing.
--WR Antonio Bryant has no swelling in his left knee and returned to practice Wednesday for the first time in three weeks. Bryant has missed the last two games and not played with QB Josh Freeman this season.
--QB Byron Leftwich has an elbow injury and was limited in practice Wednesday. He will not throw a football this week but will be the inactive third quarterback.
--DE Stylez G. White says he lost some strength in his left shoulder but returned to practice on Wednesday.
--RB Cadillac Williams, the Bucs' leading ball-carrier, took Wednesday off to rest his sore knees.
--TE Kellen Winslow, who is the team's leading receiver and has five TD catches, took Wednesday off from practice.
INJURY IMPACT: WR Antonio Bryant has missed the last two games and has had three weeks off due to a knee injury. He practiced Wednesday and expected to play Sunday. TE Kellen Winslow and RB Cadillac Williams did not practice to rest sore knees. DE Stylez G. White returned to practice.