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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Bucs notes: Freeman envisions big season

Published:   |   Updated: July 25, 2013 at 05:52 AM

TAMPA - QB Josh Freeman has built a legion of fans during his four years with the Bucs. He also has developed an army of doubters, though their doubt doesn't necessarily drive him.

"I think it drives my dad more than anybody," said Freeman, who is entering the final year of his five-year rookie contract. "You always want to put a great product on the field, because you know what you're capable of and you want to do that for your team and your coaches and for Tampa Bay."

Freeman believes he's capable of doing pretty big things, bigger even than a year ago when he set single-season franchise records for passing yards (4,065) and touchdown passes (27).

"When I look at who I want to be and what I want to be as a player, it exceeds everything that anybody else could hope for," he said. "I want to push it. When I leave the game, I want to be known as one of the best that ever played."

Backing it up

Tampa Bay signed five-year veteran RB Peyton Hillis just before the start of training camp to improve its depth behind starter Doug Martin.

Playing for Cleveland in 2010, Hillis ranked sixth in the league with 1,654 total yards from scrimmage and was third with 13 touchdowns. The Bucs are excited about the 6-foot-2, 250-pound Hillis' experience and versatility.

"He can be the ball carrier, he can block - he's that bigger kind of back," coach Greg Schiano said. "We just felt like he was a good fit for us right now with our running situation and our fullback situation. He brings some diversity to the position and we needed to create quality depth there."

Hillis joins a training camp battle in which veteran Brian Leonard, second-year pro Michael Smith and rookie Mike James will compete for work behind Martin.

Let's get physical

When the pads come on for the first time at Saturday's night practice at Raymond James Stadium, Bucs fans can expect to see, hear and feel some big-time collisions.

"They're going to be physical once we get the pads on," Schiano said. "The one thing about the rules in the NFL is you don't get to do any of that in the springtime. You only have this window, and once you get into the season, you get 11 padded practices. We're not going to be foolish, or go over the top in any way, but we've got to play football."

Point taken

Gerald McCoy is excited about Tampa Bay's offseason additions on defense, but the fourth-year defensive tackle is equally enthusiastic about an attack that finished No. 9 in the league without Pro Bowl guards Carl Nicks and Davin Joseph playing a single snap together because of injuries.

"That offense is ridiculous," McCoy said. "With all we have on the other side of the ball, when they get rolling, especially with those guys up front, that's not something you want to face all game. I love facing them because it makes me better. Those guys are good.''

Offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan senses better days ahead for a potent unit that features a blend of youngsters and veterans.

"The second year is always beneficial because everyone can take a step back and evaluate what worked and what didn't work, and most importantly, why," said Sullivan, who joined Schiano's staff in 2012 after eight seasons with the New York Giants. "It was exciting to see that the communication this spring was at a higher level."

Roster moves

Of the 90 players on the Bucs' roster, only 89 showed up for the start of camp on Wednesday.

But that was to be expected.

Olympic sprinter/RB Jeff Demps, a member of the United States' 4x100 relay team, was excused after he accepted an invitation last week to participate in the IAAF World Championships, which are slated to end on Aug. 18. Demps was placed on the Reserve/Did Not Report list.

PK Connor Barth (Achilles tendon) was placed on the Reserve/Non-Football Injury list. P Michael Koenen (cut foot) was put on the Active/Non-Football Injury list. And TE Luke Stocker (calf) and reserve DE Markus White were placed on the Active/Physically Unable to Perform list, meaning they count against the roster but are eligible to come off the list at any time. Also, the team signed G Jeremy Lewis.

Roy Cummings, Ira Kaufman

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