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Bucs-Cardinals Pregame Report: 11 Strong

Posted Sep 29, 2013

Rookie QB Mike Glennon will get his first start but the key to offensive success for the Buccaneers goes beyond that one position…Plus, injury updates, inactives and more

STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Rookie QB Mike Glennon will make his first NFL start on Sunday and the Bucs expect good offensive production
  • WRs Mike Williams and Vincent Jackson overcame their Week Three injuries and have been cleared to play
  • The Cardinals have new starters at four positions on defense this week, including both outside linebacker spots
For just the 10th time in the 38-year history of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, a rookie quarterback will be lining up under center for his first NFL start on Sunday.  That rookie is Mike Glennon, the third-round pick out of North Carolina State who is replacing Josh Freeman and hopefully providing a spark for an 0-3 Buccaneers team that is looking to climb back into the playoff race.

Of course, the Buccaneers’ hopes of defeating the visiting Arizona Cardinals hinge on more than just Glennon, as important as the quarterback position is.  Even narrowing the focus just to the Bucs’ offense – which doesn’t take into account some rather impressive work by the defense and the special teams through three weeks – it’s not all about Mike Glennon.  Head Coac h Greg Schiano hopes his rookie starter keeps that in perspective.

“He does understand everything,” said Schiano.  “He’s not done everything against this level of competition.  The thing that I think everybody has to understand – and Mike most of all has to understand – is that he just has to do his job.  We’ve got really good players around him.  Let everybody else do their jobs and you do your job, and it’s 11-strong and we’re going to have some good offensive production.”

Glennon became the Bucs’ starting quarterback on Wednesday, when Schiano made that potentially season-changing announcement.  It was obviously not an easy decision to make, but it’s one that the follows plenty of forethought and won’t be subject to second-guessing.

“Our job is to do the things we believe are going to help us win games, because ultimately that’s what we are in position to do,” said Schiano.  “And we feel that Mike gives us that best chance to win games.  It’s not an easy decision, to be sure, especially when you’re dealing with people.  These are real people, they’re not chess pieces.  But as a head coach you have to make those decisions, and I’m a firm believer in that you make those decisions with the best information that you have, and then you go.  You don’t look back, and that’s what we’re doing.”

Fortunately for Glennon, the Buccaneers’ somewhat dicey injury report clarified itself on Sunday, with starting wide receivers Vincent Jackson and Mike Williiams cleared to play.  Both wideouts were hurt last week in New England, Jackson taking a shot to the ribs and Williams tweaking a hamstring, but they were cleared in pregame workouts and Glennon will have his full complement of pass-catchers available to him.  Glennon did not get a lot of practice time with Jackson and Williams this week, but he did get the work he needed to prepare him for his first start.

-- QB Mike Glennon has a good grasp of the Bucs' offensive playbook

“The practice week went well, but I can tell you that his preparation method, other than the number of plays he got, was no different,” said Schiano.  “Mike has been approaching it as a starter since the day he got here.  He loves the game, he’s a football junkie and he’s just all about it.  What he got this week was all the plays in practice against that Arizona scout team.  You have to have that if you’re going to go play.  I’m excited to see him, I’m happy and excited for him, and now he needs to go do it.

Veteran Dan Orlovsky will be active as Glennon’s backup, with Freeman one of the team’s seven inactive players.  Schiano declined to elaborate on the reasons for that depth chart decision for strategic reasons.

“It’s just a decision that we felt was best for the football team,” said the coach.  “Very rarely will I go into the details of the ‘why’ because of two things.  Number one, it’s personal, it’s team business.  And number two, you don’t ever want to let people know how you operate, what your methods and your thinking are, because then you put yourself at a competitive disadvantage in the future.”

On paper, the Bucs’ offense might have a bit of an edge in the fact that Arizona lost both of its starting outside linebackers, Sam Acho and Lorenzo Alexander, to season-ending injuries last weekend.  Matt Shaughnessy and John Abraham will start in their place, and that could be an area for Tampa Bay to attack.  However, Arizona’s defense has other strengths that could allow it to compensate very well for those losses.

“Their front seven, especially their three down guys, are really good football players,” said Schiano.  “They’re strong, they’re big and they’re physical.  Point of attack, on the line of scrimmage, getting movement is going to be very, very challenging in the running game.  And you talk about a corner who’s an elite cornerback iI’ this league in Patrick Peterson.  And they have some other players, too – it’s not just those four players and that’s it.  Now, they’re banged up a little bit, they’ve lost both starting outside linebackers, but I’m sure they’re going to have players who know their scheme to replace them.  As I’ve always said, if the backups were better than the starters then they’d probably be starters, so we have that opportunity.  It’s going to be a challenging effort offensively to move the ball and score, but one that I think we’re ready to do.”

In addition to Freeman, the Buccaneers have deactivated CB Michael Adams, T Gabe Carimi, TE Tom Crabtree, DT Derek Landri, CB Rashaan Melvin and DE Trevor Scott.  Adams, Carimi, Crabtree, Landri and Melvin are out due to injury.  Nate Byham will once again start at tight end in Crabtree’s place.

For the Cardinals, starting free safety Rashad Johnson is unable to go after losing the tip of a finger in last week’s game in New Orleans.  Rookie Tyrann Mathieu will start in his place.  Also, starting nose tackle Dan Williams is not currently with the team due to a death in the family, and Alameda Ta’amu will take over his spot.  In addition to Johnson and Williams, the Cardinals deactivated QB Ryan Lindley, RB Ryan Williams, LB Kevin Minter, T Bobby Massie and G Earl Watford.  Minter is also out due to injury.

The Buccaneers and Cardinals will kick off their Week Three matchup at Gillette Stadium at 1:00 p.m. ET, and the game will be carried by Fox.  The action will also be broadcast by the Buccaneers Radio Network and its flagship station, US 103.5 FM.  That radio broadcast will be available via a live stream on Buccaneers.com.  Visit Buccaneers.com throughout the day to for further reports on the game action, including coverage of the team’s postgame press conferences.