On the radar: Josh Freeman

A player, coach or issue that should be on your radar as training camp approaches.

At this time a year ago, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers were getting rookie quarterback Josh Freeman ready for half a season in hiding. These days, the Bucs are getting ready to showcase Freeman.

After all, he is the franchise and that’s becoming obvious. The Bucs have spent most of their offseason structuring things for Freeman. They got rid of receiver Antonio Bryant, who had criticized Freeman and the coaching staff, and drafted receivers Arrelious Benn and Mike Williams.

They are two players who can get downfield and help the Bucs take advantage of Freeman’s arm strength. That also should help Freeman step forward as the leader of the team. Already a more confident, assertive demeanor is approaching.

Perhaps more important, Freeman seems to be showing a comfort level that wasn’t anywhere close to present at this point a year ago. That’s largely because he’s had an entire offseason to digest things. Coaches have raved about Freeman spending so much time at the facility watching film long before the offseason program even started.

Maybe the best news of all is that Freeman has spent the past few months getting used to an offense he actually will use in the regular season. This offseason has given Freeman and the Bucs time to get the full dose of coordinator Greg Olson’s system.

Last year, Jeff Jagodzinski was working as the coordinator with Olson as the quarterbacks coach. But the Bucs weren’t happy with the way Jagodzinski’s offense was shaping up. They wound up firing Jagodzinski on the eve of the season and threw Olson into the coordinator’s role.

That led to a season of still using some of Jagodzinski’s offense. Plus, Olson was doubling as the quarterbacks coach. The Bucs now have brought in Alex Van Pelt to serve as quarterbacks coach and that has allowed Olson more freedom.

It also should mean more freedom and bigger things for Freeman.