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Bucs bench Freeman in favor of Glennon

The SportsXchange

TAMPA, Fla. -- In a move that was something less than surprising, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers benched quarterback Wednesday so rookie Mike Glennon can be the starter.

Glennon will be under center Sunday when the Bucs play host to the Arizona Cardinals.

"This was a performance-based decision, and the fact of the matter is we were not getting the job done on the field," Bucs coach Greg Schiano said.

"We've lost eight of nine games and haven't played particularly well on offense in the last nine games. That's something, although it's not completely the quarterback's fault, I understand that, that position touches the ball every play."

Freeman was not made available for comment by the Bucs on Wednesday, but Schiano said "he took it like a stand-up guy."

The Bucs lost their first three games -- the first two on field goals in the final seconds -- while Freeman struggled mightily. He completed less than 50 percent of his passes in each game while throwing two touchdowns and three interceptions.

In the past six games dating back to last year, Freeman threw four touchdown passes and 12 interceptions.

The Bucs' position on Freeman, which seemed to change by the hour during the offseason, is this: He will serve as the team's No. 2 quarterback Sunday while they seek to trade him before the Oct. 29 deadline, most likely for a conditional late-round pick.

Tampa Bay is giving Glennon a start ahead of the team's bye week. After Sunday, the Bucs are off until an Oct. 13 game against the Philadelphia Eagles.

"It is beneficial I think in the fact that Mike will get to play a game, and then have a bye week to really decipher through it and learn from the experience before he has to play his next game," Schiano said. "That's a side benefit of the decision, but it wasn't by any means the reason it was made now. We felt at this time that Mike Glennon gives us the best chance to win, and that's why we did it."

The Bucs team captains were informed of the decision Wednesday, and the timing caught many by surprise.

"The last time you guys asked me that, I said I was down for Free," guard Carl Nicks said. "But whoever the coach decides to start, that's who I'm rocking with. I really have no choice.

"Who knows? It might be like when (Colin) Kaepernick came in for San Francisco. I'm not saying he's going to rush for 150 yards."

Glennon, a third-round pick who replaced the Seattle Seahawks' Russell Wilson at North Carolina State, is looking forward to the opportunity.

"It's an exciting time for me," said the 6-foot-6, 225-pound Glennon. "Something I've dreamed of my whole life, something I've worked for ever since I was a little kid throughout high school and college to prepare me for this moment."

The Bucs also questioned Freeman's leadership qualities and maturity. He missed the team picture on Labor Day and was late to his own quarterback camp during the summer for what he described as car trouble. Receiver Vincent Jackson was forced to step in for Freeman at the camp.

Meanwhile, Schiano lauded Glennon's preparation.

"Incredibly hard worker, passionate about football, studies his rear end off," Schiano said of Glennon. "Tries to execute the plan we try to implement. There's a lot of good things."

Glennon is well aware of the quick success rookie quarterbacks experienced in the NFL the past two seasons, but he isn't trying to be the next Robert Griffin III, Andrew Luck or Wilson.

"I'm my own player," he said. "All those rookies that have really excelled the past few years, their situation may be different. I'm not really sure. I'm going to come here and do everything I can and be myself."
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