Eldest Buc won't mind new role@

Published on NewsOK Modified: April 19, 2014 at 9:24 pm •  Published: April 19, 2014
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By Greg Auman,

c.2012 Tampa Bay Times@

TAMPA — At 34, Josh McCown is the oldest of 75 players on the Bucs roster and one of just four 30 or older. So there's a natural leadership that extends beyond his role as starting quarterback.

And as the team has brought in four quarterbacks for visits in the past two weeks to evaluate their merits as high draft picks, McCown has had a chance to meet the youngsters who could challenge him for playing time in the fall.

"They all seem like nice kids. They look so young," McCown said during off-field workouts last week.

"It was cool to say hello to them; just briefly with Johnny (Manziel) and Teddy (Bridgewater) and Jimmy (Garoppolo). Just, 'Hey, how's it going?' and wish them well. It's funny. You look at them, and you think back a few years and remember how fast it can go."

McCown, a third-round pick in 2002 out of Sam Houston State, was in the same draft class as David Carr, the No. 1 overall pick by the Texans and whose brother Derek also starred at Fresno State and was scheduled to visit One Buc Place last week. McCown appeared in only two games (throwing for 66 yards) as a rookie backup to Jake Plummer on a Cardinals team that went 5-11.

But he remembers how much of a transition there was to make from college to the NFL, just the same.

"This is … easily the longest year of your career," McCown said. "From combine to the end of your rookie season is just a long year. You're excited, but it can be draining and very emotional."

McCown has made it clear his approach to the upcoming season won't change if the Bucs use the No. 7 overall pick in the draft on a quarterback. McCown's presence as a reliable veteran — signed to a two-year, $10 million contract — would allow the team not to rush a quarterback into the game until he's ready.

McCown wants to play, of course, but also embraces the mentoring aspect of his job, whether it be to second-year pro Mike Glennon or a rookie who might present a greater threat to his playing time. Of the past 16 quarterbacks drafted in the first round, only two — the Titans' Jake Locker in 2011 and the Broncos' Tim Tebow in 2010 — started fewer than nine games as rookies.