Josh Freeman was put in an odd position. Or did he put himself in that situation?
Either way, his dismissal from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers – a situation he said he didn't realize had reached the point of no return until he was released – and subsequent signing by the Minnesota Vikings gave him a new opportunity to reclaim his career as a starter. That opportunity, the initial one, anyway, was short-lived. He completed only 20 of 53 passes and had 16 overthrows in an odd game plan for a quarterback making his first start after joining a team only 13 days earlier.
"It was tough, obviously. But it was more just settling down, really, because I was out there, I was fired up," Freeman said this week, looking back on his Oct. 21 start. "I felt good about everything, felt good about the plan and I just needed to relax and play my game. It was an interesting experience, learn from it, gather what I can from it, and keep moving."
More than three weeks later, Freeman admits it was a limited game plan he was given. To this point, it remains the only game action he has gotten since signing with the Vikings on Oct. 8.
But now, with Christian Ponder suffering a dislocated shoulder last Thursday and working his way back on the practice field, Freeman's options are open again. It appears Ponder is on track to start again, but head coach Leslie Frazier wasn't making any proclamations about his quarterback rotation for Sunday in Seattle.
If Freeman is part of the equation, he feels better prepared now.
"No doubt. I think coach (Bill) Musgrave, he's been putting together great game plans and just understanding what we're trying to do as an offense with the ball, what he's trying to get accomplished when he's calling it, I think that's a big step in being a high-percentage, high-completion guy and ultimately efficient.
"… My understanding of the offense has grown, feeling out the personality of the players, the receivers, coach. I'm a lot further ahead than I was then."
Freeman admitted that his first start had "such a narrow focus" and his grasp of the entire offense was lacking. Now, he says, he feels more relaxed.
Of course, the next step would be to take the extra time he has spent after practices and apply that on the field. He would like to do that, but he also admits he has been promised nothing.
"I'm a competitor. You live to play on Sundays. You don't live to play throughout the week, although practice is a huge part of it leading up to Sundays," Freeman said. "It's a role that they've placed on me for now and I'm going to continue to work. I know the other two guys are going to continue to work and I've got to say it's been a great room as far as us competing, pushing each other and just some of the comedy. It's been pretty funny."
Meanwhile, he has been staying after practice with quarterbacks coach Craig Johnson to further familiarize himself with the playbook and to work on his mechanics. The Vikings' system requires some footwork that Freeman wasn't used to and that's been one of the many challenges for him in the transition.
Freeman said he loves his new teammates on offense, defense and special teams. But it's impossible for him to know what his future holds. He signed only a one-year, $2 million contract for his chance with the Vikings after four years and one month with the Bucs.
The reality is his future is as uncertain as ever.
"I've never really been through a situation like this. At the end of the year, I don't know what the plan is from either side," he said. "So, right now I'm living in the moment and continuing to be the best that I can be for this team right now. It's kind of a deal where that bridge is far down the road and when we come to it, we'll take care of it. At this point in time, I'm just trying to continue to compete."
Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.
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