Tampa Bay Buccaneers mailbag

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are the final stop (we went in alphabetical order by city or region) in our tour of team-by-team mailbags.

Carlos in Panama writes: As good as Josh Freeman's numbers look, in my opinion, he at many times looked like a rookie during his game against the Browns. He's doing a better job at taking what the defense gives him but he just seemed to really miss on open throws. I know somewhere it said his thumb was still bothering him; was his inaccuracy just his thumb not allowing him to place the ball where he wanted? Hopefully it is, because he really missed some throws.

Pat Yasinskas: The thumb is still somewhat an issue and Freeman said the medical staff has told him it won’t be 100 percent until after the bye week. Yes, there were times Freeman looked like a rookie. But that’s understandable because he’s not far off from being a rookie. He just began starting the second half of last season. There will be more mistakes along the way, but there also is obvious progress.

Jonathan in West Palm Beach, Fla., writes: Do Bucs fans really have a reason to be excited about Geno Hayes and Quincy Black? We have seen a lot of young guys with promise, and made the mistake of buying into them way too early (Alex Smith, Michael Clayton), but do you feel like these guys have what it takes to take help field an elite defense?

Pat Yasinskas: Yes, I do. In talking with Tampa Bay’s coaching staff and front office, they are very high on both young players. They think Hayes and Black are high-energy guys who can make big plays. Along with Barrett Ruud in the middle, I’d say Tampa Bay already has a solid group of linebackers.

Kyle in Tampa writes: Question for this weekend: Will you be headed to the Buccaneers/Panthers game for your duties this weekend? I feel pretty confident that the Bucs can get a win up in Charlotte (maybe "escape" with a win is better) and head home with a good shot at going 3-0 before the bye.

Pat Yasinskas: Yes, I’m scheduled to cover the Bucs and Panthers in Charlotte on Sunday. Although it might not seem like the most glamorous matchup, I’m looking forward to covering this one. Part of that is because Carolina and Tampa Bay have developed a pretty intense rivalry through the years. More importantly, I think this is a very big game for both franchises. The Panthers need a win because an 0-2 start would put them in a hole and, with John Fox in the last year of his contract, things could go into a downhill spiral in a hurry. For the Bucs, they’ve got a shot to be 2-0 heading into a Week Three game with Pittsburgh. That would energize the fan base and also get the players really believing in themselves.

Michael in Orlando writes: Josh Freeman looked pretty rusty and unsettled in the pocket for the first half of Sundays game... but then he settled down and made plays when we needed them... Do you think this shows that he has what it takes to be a winner in Tampa?

Pat Yasinskas: Yes, I do. As I said above, Freeman’s still going to have some bad moments. But I also think he’s progressing pretty nicely and establishing himself as the leader of this offense. I’ll have much more on this topic in a column I’ll be writing about Freeman for Friday afternoon.