Buccaneers turn to rookie QB Glennon to spark offense against Cardinals

Mike Glennon isn't promising to have the immediate impact of an Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III and Russell Wilson, a trio of young quarterbacks who led their teams to the playoffs as rookies.

He just wants to be himself.

The third-round draft pick out of North Carolina State makes his first NFL start for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-3) on Sunday, taking over for the benched Josh Freeman against the Arizona Cardinals (1-2).

And while he's well aware of the success Luck, Griffin and former college teammate Wilson had in helping Indianapolis, Washington and Seattle to playoff berths last season, Glennon doesn't want to put any additional pressure on himself by making bold predictions.

"I'm my own player," the 23-year-old said. "All those rookies that have really excelled the past few years, their situation may be different. I'm not really sure. But I'm just going to come in here and do everything I can and be myself."

That's what coach Greg Schiano is counting on.

Freeman, who's in the final year of his contract, completed less than 50 percent of his passes and Tampa Bay scored three offensive touchdowns in losing to the Jets, Saints and Patriots. The Bucs have dropped eight of nine overall, dating to last season.

"I look at our offense in the last nine games. I don't think we've performed up to the level of our expectations," Schiano said, stressing he has confidence in Glennon to provide a spark, while also declining to compare him to other young quarterbacks.

Although the move surprised Arizona coach Bruce Arians, he said facing Glennon instead of Freeman won't alter the Cardinals' approach.

"It really doesn't change the way we prepare, we are preparing for their offense," Arians said. "Josh brought special things as far as athleticism, and Mike brings a big, strong arm. They obviously felt (a change) was needed. Any time you face a rookie quarterback ... we should have an advantage, I think."

Five things to know as Glennon tries to get the Bucs' offense on track:

WHO WILL HELP?: Glennon didn't exactly light it up in the preseason, and the Bucs will try to take some pressure off him by establishing the running game with Doug Martin, second in the NFL with 297 yards rushing. That will be especially important if Tampa Bay's top receivers, Vincent Jackson (ribs) and Mike Williams (hamstring), are limited or — worse — don't play at all because of injuries.

FITZ ON REVIS ISLAND: One of more intriguing personal matchups figures to be Cardinals receiver Larry Fitzgerald against Bucs cornerback Darrelle Revis. Fitzgerald has been bothered by a sore hamstring, but expects to be full speed. Revis relishes the challenge of shutting down elite receivers.

"It should be a good one. You're talking about two guys with about $200 million between the two of them. They ought to put on a show," Arians said. "They can't cancel each other out, nobody wants to see that. I think they'll both win some, lose some."

Revis has faced the Cardinals once, in 2008 with the Jets. He had two interceptions, returning one for a touchdown.

WHAT MIGHT HAVE BEEN: Arizona QB Carson Palmer was traded to the Cardinals by the Raiders after apparently having some conversations with Tampa Bay about joining the Bucs to compete for the starting job with Freeman. Last season with Oakland, Palmer faced the Bucs and attempted a career-high 61 passes while throwing for 414 yards and four TDs in a loss.

He said he was "flattered" by the Bucs' interest, but he's "thankful the way everything played out and excited about the opportunities we have this year."

HOLES TO FILL: The Cardinals lost starting OLBs Sam Acho (broken left leg) and Lorenzo Alexander (torn ligament left foot) for the season during last week's loss at New Orleans, as well as backup Alex Okafor. Matt Shaughnessy will step into the lineup. A third starter, S Rashad Johnson, lost the tip of a finger making a tackle.

"You can find bodies to put out there that'll play hard. What we lost was two of our heartbeats," Arians said, speaking of the difficulty of replacing Acho and Alexander.

SACK ATTACK: The Bucs tied for 29th in sacks a year ago with 27. They have 12 through three games this season — tied for third in the league, with eight players posting at least one. The Cardinals have allowed Palmer to be sacked nine times, including four last week.


AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org