Bucs turn to Freeman as QB

TAMPA, Fla. -- The winless Tampa Bay Buccaneers have changed starting quarterbacks again, with rookie Josh Freeman taking over the offense.

Freeman was the 17th pick in the first round of this year's draft. He made his NFL debut last Sunday, playing two series in the fourth quarter of a 35-7 loss to the Patriots in London.

"It's definitely something I've been working toward. It's finally going to be great to get an opportunity to step out there and do something," the former Kansas State standout said Wednesday.

"My mind-set right now is to prepare the best I can and then go out and do what I do, which is play football and try to find a way to get a win."

Coach Raheem Morris was noncommital about his quarterback plans after Freeman completed two of four passes for 16 yards and was sacked twice for 16 yards in losses during his brief stint against New England.

Morris officially made the change when the team practiced for the first time since returning from London.

"He's been waiting for his time patiently, but he's used his time wisely," said Morris, who has maintained from the day Freeman was drafted that he will not rush the 21-year-old's development.

"The plan bringing him in here was let him sit behind a vet. Hopefully, the vet will get you a bunch of wins, but that didn't happen. ... He's earned the right. He's went into the lab, he's done the extra studying, he's done the extra preparation."

The Bucs (0-7) have a bye this week, meaning Freeman will have extra time to prepare for his first start Nov. 8 at home against Green Bay.

Freeman replaces second-year pro Josh Johnson. Johnson, a fifth-round draft pick in 2008, made four starts after former Jaguars and Falcons starter Byron Leftwich led the team the first three weeks of the season.

"No discredit to what Josh Johnson has done for this football team. He went out there and gave his best efforts," Morris said.

"But due to the preparation, the timing, how we want to implement [Freeman] to our system, to our organization, to our town ... it's time for a little Josh Freeman," said Morris, who's known the quarterback since Freeman was a freshman at Kansas State, and Morris was the defensive coordinator there.

Freeman was the third quarterback selected in the draft behind Matthew Stafford and Mark Sanchez. The 6-foot-6, 248-pounder said it was difficult riding the bench the past seven weeks but that he thinks it will prove beneficial.

"I've learned a lot. I've had the opportunity to watch it from a different point of view and see things unfold. I feel like I've really grown as a passer and also as a leader on this team," Freeman said.