Will Josh Freeman be ready for the Packers?

Raheem Morris (AP Photo/Stephan Savoia)

With a rookie quarterback having an extra week to prepare for his first NFL start, one would assume that the first year player would spend the majority of that time on the practice field or in the film room. The Bucs have a different strategy though. Read on to find out how Freeman and the Bucs spent the off week and what the rookie quarterback had to say about his first NFL start

First-year Buccaneers coach Raheem Morris, who has the only winless team in the NFL, is making his second change at quarterback.

Rookie Josh Freeman will start Sunday against the Packers.

It was the perfect opportunity to make the switch with the bye week to prepare Freeman for the Green Bay.

The rest of the team could have benefited from more practice, too, or so it would seem considering the Bucs are ranked 28th in the NFL in total offense and 27th in total defense.

So how much extra work on the field did Freeman and the Bucs receive during the bye week? Try a total of 2 1/2 hours.

That's it. What's more, Tampa Bay's 65-minute practice last Wednesday was mostly 7-on-7, as the offensive and defensive linemen essentially sat it out.

Considering that the Bucs traveled to London on Friday, Oct. 23 and had their Saturday walkthrough cancelled, it means the Bucs will have practiced 2 1/2 hours in 12 days until they return to work Tuesday, Nov. 3.

Did it dawn on Morris -- or general manager Mark Dominik for that matter -- to maybe adjust the practice schedule given their horrible start?

"No, we set the schedule up a while ago," Morris said. "You make the decision long before you go into the bye week with what you are going to do -- whether you are 0-7 or 7-0. That really didn't matter. What we did (Wednesday) was the preparation and the fundamental core beliefs with these guys. We got a chance to get Josh implemented to be a starter and get done what he needed to get done."

Morris also acknowledged there wasn't any game-planning for the Packers to prepare Freeman on Wednesday.

"It was mostly all 7-on-7s," Morris said. "We had a little bit of individual period and have some 1-on-1 fundamental stuff. We got our fundamental core beliefs in, and we got some of our passing things done."

Rather than hang around the facility in Tampa, Freeman was on a plane to his home in Kansas City last Thursday.

Contrast that with the approach San Francisco coach Mike Singletary had with newly signed receiver Michael Crabtree. During the 49ers' bye week, Singletary had Crabtree remain at the team's facility to practice.

Quarterback Alex Smith, who lives in the area, threw to Crabtree. Receivers coach Jerry Sullivan supervised Crabtree's sessions with help from Wendell Davis, a former teammate of Singletary with the Chicago Bears who has been brought in to aid Sullivan in getting Crabtree up to speed.

"He's going to be working. We really want hands on all the way," Singletary said. "Crabtree wants to play, so he wants to be here."

Freeman suffered by a lack of reps during training camp and the preseason because Morris and his staff were engaged in a futile competition between Byron Leftwich and Luke McCown. So there's no debating whether he could use the extra work, say, during some increased blitz periods that might require the whole team to practice.

Freeman, 21, says he's ready for the challenge of leading the Bucs offense.

"Obviously, it's something that's very exciting to me and it's something I've been working towards my entire career, and it's not something I'm taking lightly," Freeman said. "I come out with a different swagger I guess because I'm the guy taking the majority of the snaps and I'm the guy who has to radiate that type of swagger so my teammates can catch onto it."

Unlike Byron Leftwich and Johnson, who had the eject button pushed by Morris after combining for an 0-7 record, the plan is for Freeman to start the rest of the season -- and beyond -- regardless of the won/loss record.

"This is a different deal," Morris said. "This is Freeman."

The Bucs had not improved under second-year quarterback Josh Johnson, who lost all four starts while throwing eight interceptions. He owns a 50.4 passer rating.

Freeman completed two of four passes for 16 yards and was sacked twice in the fourth quarter against the Patriots.

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