Enter Glennon, Exit Freeman

Nick Mensio
Nick Mensio checks in on the Bucs' QB situation, Rob Gronkowski, Andre Johnson, Vincent Jackson, and plenty more in Thursday's Dose

Enter Glennon, Exit Freeman

Nick Mensio checks in on the Bucs' QB situation, Rob Gronkowski, Andre Johnson, Vincent Jackson, and plenty more in Thursday's Dose

On Monday, Bucs coach Greg Schiano claimed he never considered benching Josh Freeman during last Sunday’s ugly loss to the Patriots. Schiano then endorsed Freeman as his starting quarterback that same afternoon.

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"Josh is our starter," Schiano said. "That's where we are. He's done some good things and he's done some things that we'd like to change and he'd like to change. But it's the whole offensive unit. We need to be more precise. We need to be coached more precisely.”

Well, that didn’t last long. On Wednesday, Schiano changed his tune and sent Freeman to the bench. In three games, Freeman completed 45.7 percent of his passes, threw for just 571 yards, posted a pitiful 59.3 passer rating, and tossed just two touchdowns to three interceptions. Over his last nine games dating back to last season, Freeman has completed 169-333 (50.8 percent) of his passes for 2,131 yards (6.39 YPA), eight touchdowns and 13 interceptions. He also took 19 sacks over that span. The Bucs went 1-8 in those nine games.

Schiano named third-round rookie Mike Glennon his Week 4 starter on Wednesday. Barring injury, he’ll likely start the remaining 13 games this season. At 6-foot-7 and 225 pounds, Glennon is a slender, big-armed gunslinger. He’s a good fit for OC Mike Sullivan’s vertical scheme. At North Carolina State, Glennon had a long windup and was short on consistency. He liked to either chuck it deep or check it down. Many draftniks compared him to a young Joe Flacco. ESPN’s Ron Jaworski even described Glennon as an “oak tree.” He saw a ton of preseason action but wasn’t overly efficient. In four preseason contests, Glennon completed 33-70 (47.1 percent) of his passes for 397 yards (5.7 YPA), three touchdowns, and three interceptions. However, most of the time he was playing with – and against – second- and third-stringers. Bucs receivers Vincent Jackson and Mike Williams don’t take big hits to their fantasy value simply because Freeman was so poor. Glennon can’t be much worse. We do like Glennon’s insertion into the lineup for Doug Martin’s PPR value. As previously mentioned, Glennon showed a tendency to check the ball down in college. Glennon, himself, won’t be on the fantasy radar until we see him play a few games. His first start will be against the Cardinals.

Let’s go back to Freeman, now. He’s likely played his last snap in Tampa Bay. The Bucs have almost certainly put him on the trade block, and reports are that the former first-round pick has also requested a trade. Freeman has a prohibitive fully-guaranteed $8.43 million salary in the final year of his rookie deal. $6.44 million of it is still owed to him starting in Week 5. ESPN’s Chris Mortensen reported the Bucs will “probably take anything for him at this point.” However, it’s hard to imagine any team giving up even a seventh-rounder for a mediocre quarterback in the final year of his contract. The Jaguars and Browns reportedly have zero interest. The Vikings could make some sense with Christian Ponder struggling, but they’re right up against the salary cap. Backup Matt Cassel probably isn’t much worse than Freeman at this point. The trade deadline is October 29. Once he hits free agency next March, Freeman can only hope a team will allow him to come in and at least compete for the starting job.

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News Nugget #2

The Patriots remain tight-lipped on Rob Gronkowski’s return from back and forearm surgeries. Coach Bill Belichick has been leery to spill much to the media. It’s true Belichick form. On Wednesday, Belichick would only go as far to say that his star tight end has “definitely made progress” over recent weeks.

All we know at this point is that Gronkowski is extremely close to making his return to game action. He’s been practicing since Week 1 and has progressed up to full-pad workouts and full practice sessions. ESPN’s Chris Mortensen reported Wednesday that Gronkowski is more likely than not to make his season debut on NBC’s Sunday Night Football this week against the Falcons.

"He's probably ready to play," said Mort. "... I think they're leaning 60-40 he's playing this week."

The Patriots are 3-0, though it’s been a bit of a rough start. They could err on the side of caution and hold Gronkowski out another week before setting him loose in Week 5 against the Bengals. His status for this week truly remains up in the air. We’ll find out more as the week rolls on, but don’t expect the Patriots to reveal anything before Sunday morning. Gronkowski’s return will be a boon to both the running and passing attacks in New England. He’s a dominant in-line blocker and is the red-zone threat Tom Brady is craving at the moment. Keep checking back for updates through the weekend.

News Nugget #3

Just as I did in last Thursday’s Dose, I’ll use this final “News Nugget” section to hit on some key injured players around the league. We’re about to hit the quarter mark of the season, so there are plenty of stars battling some nicks and bruises.

Reggie Bush (knee) returned to a full practice Wednesday after missing last week’s tilt in the nation’s capital. Bush said he felt “good” on the practice field, and he reportedly “showed no signs” of injury. When asked if he’ll start this week against the Bears, Bush responded with a simple “yes.” Chicago’s run defense hasn’t been as dominant as year’s past, ranking eighth in the league in yards allowed on the ground. Bush will be back in the RB1 mix for Week 4.

Ray Rice (hip) put in a limited practice Wednesday a week after not practicing at all. He said he expects to play this week against the Bills’ 30th-ranked run defense. The Ravens will likely take it slow with their star running back simply because they have a quality backup in Bernard Pierce. Baltimore has only gone as far to say that it’s “hopeful” Rice will be able to return to game action this weekend. Whoever ends up starting in the Ravens’ backfield will be a must-start.

Danny Amendola (groin) is reportedly moving better this week in practice. He said he plans to be “100 percent shortly.” Both ESPN and the Boston Herald guess that Amendola is unlikely to play this week against the Falcons, but the Herald “wouldn’t completely rule it out.” We like his chances of suiting up against the Bengals in Week 5 better than this week. Julian Edelman will continue to be peppered with targets in Amendola’s absence.

Andre Johnson (shin) did not practice Wednesday. Coach Gary Kubiak said his star receiver is “very sore” and will end up being a game-time decision against Seattle’s elite secondary. With the way Kubiak was speaking, it doesn’t sound like Johnson is going to practice much – if at all – this week. He won’t be much more than a high-end WR2 against Richard Sherman, Brandon Browner, and company.

Just like Johnson, Vincent Jackson (rib) failed to practice Wednesday. He exited last week’s game against the Patriots in the second quarter and never returned. His injury isn’t considered serious. Jackson is more day-to-day than week-to-week. We’d be surprised if Jackson didn’t play this week against Arizona. He’ll be a borderline WR1 against Patrick Peterson and the gang.

Quarterback/Running Back Slants

Terrelle Pryor (concussion) has been cleared for physical activity but not practice, yet. It’s a sign that he’s progressing quickly through the league’s protocol. We’ll have plenty of updates on Pryor into the weekend. … Brandon Weeden (thumb) has been ruled out for Week 4. Brian Hoyer will get the start at home versus Cincinnati. … Christian Ponder’s (rib) status is up in the air for Sunday’s game against the Steelers in London. … The Broncos reportedly still believe Montee Ball will become a “top-tier tailback.” Why wouldn’t they? Ball is just three games into his pro career. His biggest issues are ball security and pass protection. Ball still remains Denver’s No. 2 back behind Knowshon Moreno. … Daryl Richardson (foot) has reportedly had more “spring to his step” this week and is listed as probable for Thursday night. It’s tough to gauge how much he’ll play, though. We like him as a flex option against a banged-up 49ers defense. … Ahmad Bradshaw (neck) missed practice Wednesday. The Colts plan to split the load between him and Trent Richardson again this week versus Jacksonville. … Le’Veon Bell (foot) practiced in full Wednesday. … BenJarvus Green-Ellis (ankle) was limited Wednesday. His fantasy value has about dried up with Giovani Bernard’s stellar play. … Mikel Leshoure “wants to play.” He’s not going to unless he gets shipped out of Detroit at the trade deadline. So far, the Lions have rebuffed trade overtures. … Chris Ivory (hamstring) did not practice Wednesday. … C.J. Spiller (thigh) practiced Wednesday, as did LeSean McCoy (ankle).

Wide Receiver/Tight End Slants

Bears RCB Charles Tillman said he doesn’t plan to shadow Calvin Johnson this week. It’s a big boost for Megatron. He’s struggled against Tillman and the Bears in the past. … Coach Rob Chudzinski told Josh Gordon the team has no plans to trade him. Chud doesn’t call the shots, however. CEO Joe Banner is running the Browns. … Mike Williams (hamstring) missed Bucs practice Wednesday. He injured the hammy in last week’s loss but later returned to the game. … Nate Burleson underwent surgery on his broken arm Wednesday. He plans to be playing again sometime in November. … Percy Harvin (hip surgery) has returned to New York to continue his rehab. … Chris Givens (knee) is listed as probable for Thursday night’s game against the 49ers. Treat him as a WR4. … Larry Fitzgerald (hamstring) is practicing in full this week. He has a date with Darrelle Revis on Sunday. … Kenny Britt has a small fracture in one of his ribs. He expects to play Sunday, but he’s not a start-able fantasy player right now. … Marlon Brown (neck) did not practice Wednesday. … Roddy White (ankle) did not practice Wednesday. Same story, different week. … Miles Austin (hamstring) did not practice Wednesday. … Stevie Johnson (hamstring) sat out of practice Wednesday. … Vernon Davis (hamstring) is listed as questionable for Thursday night’s game against the Rams. We expect him to play. … Fred Davis is dealing with a high-ankle sprain and was limited in Wednesday’s practice. Jordan Reed (quad) did not participate at all in practice. … Marcedes Lewis (calf) is expected to make his season debut this week.

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