The Buccaneers were big players in free agency this season, but one of the least headline making names could potentially end up being the most important signing.
The thought of starting quarterback Josh Freeman going down with any type of significant injury this season creates a nightmare scenario for everyone involved with the team. But after backup Dan Orlovsky’s performance last Friday night in Miami, management, coaches and even the fans have to feel just a little bit better in the event disaster strikes.
Orlovsky was a popular figure with the media after practice Monday.
“Yeah I mean I went and did my job,” Orlovsky said. “I think guys on the outside made plays, guys up front picked up some pressures in their d-line, and it was good to get out with some live action and compete. That’s my role you know being the new guy around here it’s important for me to just go do my job. You can do it all in practice, say it all, and be smart in meetings, but until you go out and do it there in games that will be the time when guys will have trust in me. That is important to me, but I am just going to do my job.”
Quarterback coach Ron Turner was pleased with the play of Orlovsky Friday night. According to Turner, the Bucs backup went in and did exactly what he was supposed to.
“Yes, he went in and played well,” Turner said. “[He] did a nice job. Biggest thing he did [was] he did what we asked him to do. He went in and ran the offense and did a nice job.”
When asked about if it was anything specific that impressed Turner on Orlovksy, Turner answered basically everything.
“Yes, I think his demeanor in the huddle,” Turner said. “His demeanor at the line of scrimmage. He did a good job of reading coverages and going with the ball for the most part. Was not perfect by any means, but he made some plays when the opportunity was there to make them. That’s what we asked him to do. Just go out and do your job every day [and] every play and that’s what he did.”
Buccaneer head coach Greg Schiano believes that having a backup quarterback like Orlovsky will be beneficial to starter Josh Freeman.
“That was all part of it,” Schiano said. “I know the guys that Dan (Orlovsky) has backed up really enjoyed having him there with him because he works like he’s the starter and he works to help the starter who is currently the starter prepare to win games. He’s a team guy and my history with Dan goes all the way back to when he was at Connecticut and he was a quarterback against us and Randy Edsell used to tell me stories about his work ethic that were above and beyond and he hasn’t changed.”
Orlovsky understands why he is in Tampa and has no grand vision of unseating Freeman.
"I know what my role is as far as I need to be ready to play,” Orlovsky said. “A big part of that is practicing well. If I go out and practice well and prepare well like I’m the guy that will push Josh. He and I at first started having conversations and our relationship has quickly gotten pretty good. I am five or six years older than him so it is not like we have a ton in common off the field but we have been able to form a good bond off the field. We both have unique senses of humor and get along in some similar areas.
I definitely believe that I can be very beneficial to him and get him to play at a high level and for a long time. I am excited about that challenge, that part of it, but I’m also understanding that I need to be ready to play and play well. There is definitely a balancing act but I am excited for that part of it.”
Certainly hoping the situation never plays out Schiano told the media Monday he has confidence Orlovsky could handle the role of starter.
“He is a veteran, no doubt,” Schiano said. “A true pro. He prepares like that. He’s great for our quarterback room. I would have confidence in him if we had to put him in a game. He’s very, very sure of what he’s doing, very confident running the show. I’m really glad we have him here.”-Victoria Horchak contributed to this report
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