TAMPA – Back in February, Mike Glennon and Jordan Rodgers were nothing more than a couple of pro quarterback prospects rooming together at an NFL combine training facility in Irvine, Calif.
On Monday, much to the surprise of both, they became teammates.
In the wake of last week’s release of Josh Freeman, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers restocked themselves at quarterback Monday by signing Rodgers, a Vanderbilt product who nine months ago thought a reunion with Glennon was most unlikely.
“When we were training together we never thought we’d end up on the same team together,’’ Rodgers said. “But really, it’s a great situation. I love Mike and I am definitely behind him all the way.’’
He’s behind him in more ways that one. Rodgers, the younger brother of Green Bay QB Aaron Rodgers, was signed to the Bucs practice squad, so technically he is behind both Glennon, the Bucs’ starter, and veteran Dan Orlovsky, their designated backup.
But Rodgers, whom the Bucs worked out on Sept. 3, has some of the intangibles that Bucs coach Greg Schiano looks for most in a quarterback and in time they could make him more than just roster filler.
“Well, he’s got good blood lines,’’ Schiano said. “I mean, his brother has certainly done some things in this league. But seriously, he is his own man and (general manager) Mark (Dominik) and I have had our eye on him since college.
“There’s just something about him. He’s a competitor. He’s not the biggest guy, but he’s a fiery guy – a baller. And when we had him out at the workout we weren’t ready to do anything then, but he caught our eye.
“He fits in our building. He is a ball guy, a grinder. He likes to study, likes to be around football, likes to be around the locker room. And we are looking for as many of those guys as we can put in the building.’’
One Buc Place is not the first NFL building Rodgers has worked in as a pro. The 6-foot-1, 212-pounder signed with the Jaguars after he went undrafted but a groin injury that needed surgery ended that run in July.
Let’s get vertical
Most teams use their bye weeks to make adjustments to schemes that aren’t working quite as well as they expected them to, and so it was with the Bucs during their time off.
The Bucs focused largely on ways to get their 31st-ranked offense and 32nd-ranked passing attack back on track. Their hope is that by going vertical more often and making more use of Olympic sprinter Jeff Demps, they spark their attack.
“We talked about it last week - throwing the ball down the field a little more,’’ Schiano said. “The fact we haven’t done that as much as we’d like isn’t from a lack of trying, because sometimes defenses just take you out of it.
“But I think Jeff Demps is getting more and more comfortable with what we’re doing here so I think there will be some things we can do with him there that can make us better. He’s a valuable weapon.’’
Freeman has obviously moved on and, clearly, so have the Bucs. In the wake of Freeman’s decision to sign a one-year, $3 million deal with the Vikings late Sunday, there was little talk of him in the Bucs locker room.
“I’m done talking about Josh,’’ LT Donald Penn said of Freeman.
“We’ve moved on and it’s time to go,’’ Schiano said.
LG Carl Nicks has moved on, too, but he was a little more vocal about it.
“I wish the guy all the luck,’’ Nicks said, “I know he’s talented and I wish him well there. He probably will do well. I’m just happy he’s in a better situation for himself and he can move on and we can move on.’’
Message in a bottle
When he dismissed them for an extra-long weekend last Thursday, Schiano left his players with a simple message.
“He told us to get away from football and all the antics that were going on around here and to come back (Monda) with a purpose,’’ DE Da’Quan Bowers said. “From the looks of things today, I think we did that.
“We had a great practice today. It went real smooth and it was one of the better practices that I’ve been a part of here. Right now I think everyone is dialed in and ready to go.’’