TAMPA — Hall of Fame quarterback Fran Tarkenton has made his mind up about Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Josh Freeman's future in the NFL. In a radio interview with WDAE-620 AM on Tuesday, Tarkenton belittled Tampa Bay's fifth-year quarterback, who is entering a contract year. “He plays sometimes at a nice level,'' Tarkenton said. “I've watched him a lot. He just plays God-awful. Josh Freeman has proven to me he can't play.'' Freeman, a first-round pick in the 2009 draft, set franchise marks for passing yards (4,065) and touchdown passes (27) last season as the Bucs finished 7-9. In the midst of Tampa Bay's 1-5 finish, Freeman threw four interceptions each in consecutive games against the Saints and Rams.
The Bucs want more time to evaluate Freeman before deciding whether to offer him a contract extension. Rookie quarterback Mike Glennon has taken the bulk of the snaps through two preseason games, but Freeman is expected to see extensive playing time Saturday night at Miami. “When you get named quarterback, you automatically get put in the spotlight,'' Bucs DT Gerald McCoy said. “If a quarterback messes up, everybody knows. I think they're an unfair target. The reason I'm so sensitive about it is I got it for two years. They talked bad about me for two years, so I don't take too well when they talk about my teammates.'' Fullback full of trouble A nagging calf injury continues to keep FB Erik Lorig off the field. His absence is starting to wreak havoc with the Bucs' backfield plans. With FB Spencer Larsen also nursing nagging injuries, the Bucs have been forced to improvise with RBs Brian Leonard and Mike James or a tight end filling in. “It's certainly not ideal,'' coach Greg Schiano said. “It's not what the plan was. We did want to work more tight ends in there, but that was going to be more of a strategic thing than a must-have-to-do thing. It's not a great situation right now.'' Quote of the day “That is a Hall of Fame throw. That is a 30-yard bullet. Just get your hands together and make a catch, and all of a sudden we are on the plus side of the field and, oh, that feels good.'' Schiano, on a Freeman throw that sailed through Kevin Ogletree's hands on third down against the Patriots. Upcoming schedule PRESEASON Saturday: at Miami, 7:30 p.m. (NBC, Ch. 8) Aug. 29: Washington, 7:30 p.m. (NBC, Ch. 8) REGULAR SEASON Sept. 8: at New York Jets, 1 p.m. (Fox, Ch. 13) Sept. 15: New Orleans, 4:05 p.m. (Fox, Ch. 13)