And despite the presence of recently signed, proven veteran Byron Leftwich, McCown -- who signed a new deal himself in February -- declared emphatically Tuesday that the starting job is his to lose.
"Absolutely," McCown said, according to the St. Petersburg Times. "This has been a long time coming for me and I'm not letting anybody take it from me. And it's the first legitimate opportunity. Say what you want about getting three starts at the end of a season [two, in 2007].
"But this is my first real opportunity to be the starter, to be the guy. And I look at it as mine and you're going to have to shoot me."
The Bucs on Tuesday opened a series of full-squad voluntary workouts, where the 27-year-old McCown shared reps with Leftwich and 2008 fifth-round draft pick Josh Johnson. Veteran Brian Griese wasn't on hand and likely will be either cut or traded, and 2009 first-round draft pick Josh Freeman is finishing up the semester at Kansas State, according to the Times.
McCown has only one win in seven starts in the league. The 29-year-old Leftwich began his career as a starter in Jacksonville before being relegated to backup status there and in stops with Atlanta and Pittsburgh. Believing he needed to grow the position, Bucs coach Raheem Morris selected a quarterback in the first round in April.
"I wasn't surprised by it at all," McCown told the Times. "What I love about Raheem is he shoots you straight. He's going to tell you what's going on. When I re-signed, that was the first thing he said to me.
"He brought me up into his office, showed me the board and said, 'This is what the depth chart looks like. Here's the competition you're going to be in. We've got the 19th pick. Who knows? All the experts say we're going to draft one [quarterback]. Maybe we do. All you can do is go out, compete, and worst-case scenario, you perform well and we have to make a decision whether to keep you or trade you.'"
Leftwich said Tuesday that he signed with the Bucs partly because he was enticed by having an opportunity to become a starter again.
"It's a competition," Leftwich said, according to the Times. "Everybody wants to be the guy, we understand there's only going to be one guy. We're just going to work, work, and whoever wins, the best man will win."