Trueblood: Freeman was a good leader

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. -- Though quarterback Josh Freeman's image has taken a major hit over the past few weeks, one of his former Tampa Bay Buccaneers teammates spoke up on his behalf.

New Falcons starting right tackle Jeremy Trueblood, who started 84 games for the Bucs from 2006-12, had no issues with Freeman.

"I liked him," Trueblood told ESPN.com. "I thought he was a good player. I thought he came to work; thought he was a good leader."

Freeman, a former first-round pick from Kansas State, was released Thursday after the Buccaneers failed to find a trade partner. Reports surfaced about Freeman being in the league’s substance-abuse program, and SI.com reported Freeman had been fined twice in the past month for conduct detrimental to the team.

Freeman was a team captain for the three seasons prior to this year. He was one of three quarterbacks to beat the Falcons during the 2012 regular season.

"All the things I’ve been hearing about him, I never saw," Trueblood said. "So it’s surprising to me."

Freeman was benched in favor of rookie Mike Glennon prior to last week’s loss to the Cardinals.

"I went through it last year, getting benched by that coaching staff," Trueblood explained. "I felt like they handled it all right with me. I’ve got nothing but good things to say about my time there, so I’m not too sure what went on (with Freeman)."

Trueblood reiterated the leadership skills he often saw in Freeman.

"He was always there for the guys," Trueblood said. "He’s a good dude. He’s not always about himself. He’s about the team. I enjoyed him. He never pointed fingers. And he was quick to point the finger at himself, even if it really wasn’t his fault. He was willing to accept the blame. For me, he was just a good leader."

The Falcons host the Buccaneers Oct. 20.