With Josh Freeman sitting out Tampa Bay's preseason finale, rookie Mike Glennon will get an opportunity to show why the Buccaneers are pleased with his progress as the team's backup quarterback.
The third-round draft pick out of North Carolina State will start Thursday night's exhibition against the Washington Redskins and share playing time with ninth-year pro Dan Orlovsky, who's listed as No. 3 on the depth chart.
Freeman has not played well in three preseason outings, however he's not in danger of losing his job. Coach Greg Schiano says the entire offense is responsible for a lack of production.
Receivers have had difficulty hanging on to the football, and the offensive line has struggled to protect Freeman, who's been sacked nine times.
Schiano said he disappointed, but not discouraged, by the performance of the offense as a unit.
"That's the important thing. I wish we would have played better ... but I can see how we're going to," the second-year coach said. "The worst thing is when you're looking at that vision and you say: 'I don't see how we're going to do it.' We just have to do it."
With most of the starters playing little — if at all — the reality is the regulars won't get another chance to show whether they're ready for the regular season until the Bucs head to MetLife Stadium to face the New York Jets on Sept. 8.
"Hopefully we'll perform," Schiano said. "That's what we're banking on."
Glennon, meanwhile, has taken the majority of snaps in preseason while completing 48 percent of his passes for 334 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions.
He's looking forward to getting the start against the Redskins.
"I guess I will have done it all after this game. I've come in and played in the second and third quarters. I got to play the fourth quarter last game and finish the game out, and then now I'll be able to start. I think that's a great thing," Glennon said. "They've kind of set me up to see all sorts of different situations. That's really important to have gone through not every situation in football, but some of the main situations."
Schiano likes what he's seen in practice and in exhibitions against the Ravens, Patriots and Dolphins.
"He was well coached in college. ... We got a guy who understood football and understood quarterback play. Now we had to get him to understand our football and our quarterback play, but he's very smart and works very hard at it," the coach said.
"And he and Josh both have a an even-keeled demeanor, so when things are breaking down it's not really going to stress him out too much. ... And he's thrown the ball well. I think he's shown he can make all the throws. We thought that when we evaluated him coming out of college, and he's just confirmed that thought."
Glennon joined Philip Rivers as the only North Carolina State passers to throw for more than 4,000 yards in a season last year. With Freeman entering the final season of his contract and no other young quarterbacks on the roster, the Bucs addressed the need for depth at the position in the draft.
The 6-foot-6, 225-pound rookie feels he's made significant strides in training camp.
"Just understanding the defenses more, understanding our offense, the protections and just what we're trying to accomplish on each and every play," Glennon said.
"When you're out there in a game situation you understand why the play is called depending on the down and distance and the situation. It's just little subtle things like that that I'm getting more comfortable with, and I'll continue to grow as I get more reps."