Too early to judge Buccaneers' Freeman

May, 1, 2009
5/01/09
6:10
PM ET
 
  J. Meric/Getty Images
  The Buccaneers got their first good look at rookie Josh Freeman at minicamp.
Posted by ESPN.com's Pat Yasinskas

TAMPA, Fla. -- After one full day of minicamp, all we truly know about Tampa Bay quarterback Josh Freeman is this.

"He's 6-foot-5 and 250 pounds,'' coach Raheem Morris said Friday for about the 394th time in the week since Freeman has been drafted.

Yeah, the line's getting old already, but get used to it. You'll probably hear it 1,000 more times before the start of the regular season because it may be months -- maybe even years -- before anyone, including Morris, knows for certain if Freeman is ready to play in the NFL.

You want a scouting report from Freeman's first practice with the Bucs?

Sure, I watched him for an hour and I can tell you this: He's 6-foot-5 and 250 pounds and looks like he can throw the heck out of the football. That's really all that can be said right now.

The portion of practice that was open to the media was nothing more than some stretching, some running, some of Freeman handing off to running backs and a fair amount of him throwing to receivers running routes without any defensive players.

"He looked like a No. 1 should look,'' said Rodney Landers, the only other quarterback in camp.

Landers, a James Madison product, was brought in for the three-day event to give the Bucs another arm besides Freeman. Landers also is getting a look as a running back, receiver, special teams player and he just might earn an invitation to training camp with a chance to be the guy the Bucs turn to if they decide to use some of the Wildcat offense.

Maybe the Bucs can throw Luke McCown, Byron Leftwich, Josh Johnson or Brian Griese into the Wildcat role as well. None of them has a long-term future as Tampa Bay's quarterback.

Only Freeman does.

Remember that as you read one other scouting report from Freeman's first practice.

"He went out there today and took control of the huddle,'' Morris said. "I don't believe he had one bad snap, besides the guard tripping him early in the walkthrough. Other than that, he got every snap, delivered the football, controlled the huddle well, made some nice throws and did some things we liked today.''

So that's really all that Friday showed us. Freeman looks the part, as long as some rookie guard isn't stumbling over him. Ryan Leaf looked the part on his first day of minicamp. So did Matt Ryan.

So which of the Ryan extremes will Freeman turn out to be? There's no telling right now.

The draft experts and some personnel guys will tell you that Freeman was a little raw coming out of Kansas State as a 21-year-old junior and they'll suggest he should sit for a year. That's got Freeman off on the wrong foot with Tampa Bay fans.

 
  (J. Meric/Getty Images)
  Josh Freeman didn't get to show much in his first minicamp.

One side note on that: A lot of Bucs fans also are Rays fans and it's kind of amusing to watch them panicking right now. The Rays, who didn't really even exist before last year's run to the World Series, got off to a slow start and their fans freaked out. That was while we still were in April. It's May now and the Rays have won their last couple and that's removed the heat from the baseball team. The knee-jerk fans in Tampa now already waiting for Freeman to flop. Or flourish.

Wait until August, at least. Freeman was just handed Tampa Bay's playbook Thursday night. He and Landers spent a couple of hours going over the basics. If coordinator Jeff Jagodzinski's terminology were a language, Freeman might be able to say "hello'' right now.

But the question everybody seems to want to know is if Freeman will be ready to say hello to the first-team huddle on the first snap of the regular season.

"I'll answer that one like this: The starting quarterback thing, I'll let you guys know the third preseason game,'' Morris said. "I want these guys to compete.''

Griese or Johnson will be gone even before training camp and the one that isn't won't make it to the regular season. That leaves McCown and Leftwich and this really isn't a competition.

Freeman is Morris' "guy''.

"He's an impressive looking guy now,'' Morris said. "You look at him, you can mistake him for anything. He's just an athletic, big, giant human that's walking the planet.''

Make no mistake. This is Freeman's planet. Sure, McCown or Leftwich could end up starting a few games or maybe an entire season. Or, if Freeman, goes through training camp looking like he has a clue, the Bucs may do the inevitable and throw him in as the starter. The Bucs will decide to play him when the answer is obvious.

It's a process and Friday was a very small step. Think of it as an audition.

Freeman already looks the part. Heck, he's got the part. Once he learns his lines, he'll get to play the part.

Pat Yasinskas | email

ESPN Tampa Bay Buccaneers reporter

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