TAMPA — Tampa Bay Buccaneers QB Josh Freeman took fewer than a dozen snaps in last year’s preseason opener. His workload this year won’t be any different.
The starters will “play some” against the Baltimore Ravens in Thursday’s game at Raymond James Stadium, coach Greg Schiano said, but he is most interested in seeing the reserves.
“How do they compete when the lights come on?” Schiano said. “Can they do what they’ve been doing out here? Can they do it in the stadium against another team? Those are things that are important.
“And, then, can they do it for a sustained period of time? Can they stay focused for a three-hour football game and stay in the game and not have a mental lapse? All those things are what we want to see.”
Fans are most interested in seeing starters such as Freeman, RB Doug Martin and WR Vincent Jackson, and some starters will get extensive work, Schiano said.
“Everyone is going to be different,’’ Schiano said. “With every player, we’ve created an individual plan for them, especially the starters, regarding how many (plays) we feel they need and in what roles. Because some guys are trying new roles. For example, (safety) Mark Barron is playing in the dime package now so we want to make sure he gets a couple of shots at playing the dime.’’
With Freeman slated to get only a series or two of work, the Bucs will take a long look at rookie Mike Glennon, who is battling veteran Dan Orlovsky for the backup quarterback job.
Tampa Bay also will look at DE Da’Quan Bowers, who is replacing 2012 sack leader Michael Bennett at left end but has not consistently impressed during training camp workouts.
“I want to see him play hard play after play after play,’’ Schiano said. “He needs to string together some plays where he’s going at a high level. (We’ve seen that) on and off (in practice) but it needs to be better.’’
Consistency is the key
Sidelined for nearly two weeks by a calf strain, TE Luke Stocker got off to a slow start in training camp. He’s been playing catch-up ever since at what could be the most critical juncture of his young career.
After three years of playing behind Kellen Winslow and Dallas Clark, Stocker has a shot to open the season as the Bucs top tight end.
“This is absolutely (my) shot, without a doubt,’’ Stocker said. “They’re handing the job to me and saying, ‘It’s yours, you have to take it and run with it.’ That’s why this injury has been so frustrating.’’
The Bucs signed only Tom Crabtree in free agency, because they think Stocker is on the brink of a breakout year.
Stocker finished strong in 2012, catching eight passes for 89 yards over three games.
“I think I’ve shown promise,’’ he said. “Now it’s a matter of consistently doing good things, because if you show promise you stick around. But if you want to be a great player you have to be consistent.’’
Schiano and his staff weren’t pleased with the execution in Tuesday’s workout, but liked that the players fought through difficult conditions.
“I’ve got to believe that was the hottest day we’ve had,’’ Schiano said. “And I told them before we started that leadership will have to carry us through this practice. And leadership did carry this practice because there were a lot of guys who would’ve liked to have found a place to hide and they weren’t allowed to. And it wasn’t by me. That was the key.’’
LG Carl Nicks (toe) was given Tuesday off to alleviate general soreness after his most intense workout of camp on Monday.
We all would have been shocked if he wasn’t sore,” Schiano said. “That’s the first time he has done that since, what, November, October? So you anticipate he’s going to be sore the next day.’’
Nicks did conditioning drills, joining a group that included DE Adrian Clayborn (groin), FB Erik Lorig (calf), DT Gary Gibson (ankle), CB Myron Lewis (hamstring) and DE Aaron Morgan (neck).