Bucs happy with Josh Freeman's progress

TAMPA, Fla. -- Through most of the offseason, just about everything the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have done has been geared toward helping quarterback Josh Freeman.

The Bucs went out and got him a No. 1 receiver (Vincent Jackson), an all-purpose running back (Doug Martin) and perhaps the NFL’s best guard (Carl Nicks). They also made it a point to get him experienced coaches, adding former New York Giants quarterbacks coach Mike Sullivan as offensive coordinator and veteran assistant Ron Turner as the quarterbacks coach.

So how is Freeman doing as he nears the start of his third full season as a starter?

“Josh has improved in each and every phase,’’ Sullivan said Thursday. “He was better at the beginning of OTAs than he was in our first minicamp. He was better at the end of training camp than he was at the beginning. There’s been a progression we’ve seen in practice that we’ve seen from a confidence level, an execution level, a leadership level that we’re pleased with. Preseason is always hard to gauge because us as well as other teams are working on various aspects of our games, so you can’t really measure it. But we’re pleased with where he’s at and looking forward to seeing how he does Sunday.’’

Keep in mind part of what the Bucs might be doing is attempting to build up Freeman’s psyche after a very disappointing 2011 season. Even if the words simply are meant to build up Freeman’s confidence, it sounds as if the quarterback has been doing all the right things.

“His commitment has been outstanding in terms of as you look at what he’s done with his body and getting in physical shape,’’ Sullivan said. “He spent countless hours on his own without coach Turner or myself, just trying to get himself immersed in our system and what we’re trying to do, studying the opponent and his preparation has been outstanding thus far in getting ready for Carolina. I think there is a resolve, there is a determination to put himself in a position where he can be the type of player he wants to be and lead us to the wins and where we want to go."