"Basically I overslept," Freeman explained. "Point blank."
Freeman said the incident is something he feels "badly about" and it's "upsetting," but he's ready to move on from it. He insisted the missed photo session and other "fairly isolated" tardiness had nothing to do with losing his status as a team captain.
In fact, a convincing Freeman firmly believes he has the support of his teammates.
"I think Vincent Jackson deserves every bit of the captain spot," Freeman said. "I feel like the talk about me not being a captain kind of takes away from the honor of those guys being captains. Do I want to be captain? Yeah, sure. But it's not something that's going to make or break anyone."
Asked if he trusts Schiano, Freeman replied, "I do. Undoubtedly." The quarterback added that he has "100 percent confidence" that Schiano would not rig the ballot box on the captains' vote.
"Well, I certainly hope so," Freeman quipped.
The embattled quarterback kept his composure and acquitted himself well. It still won't change the perception that Schiano already has set the wheels in motion to go in a different direction if Freeman doesn't show marked improvement.
Since the end of last season, the Bucs have stated their intention to bring in competition at the position, refused to negotiate a new contract, drafted a big-armed quarterback in the third round and ripped the "C" off of Freeman's jersey.
No veteran quarterback is more in need of a serious momentum shift than Freeman. An upset victory in Sunday's home opener versus the New Orleans Saints would buy him some much-needed time and get his head coach off his back -- for a week.