Quarterback Josh Freeman felt the pain in his thumb and figured something was wrong.
X-rays revealed Freeman fractured the tip of his thumb and he will not play the remainder of the preseason. However, the team said he is expected to practice and be ready for the season opener against the Cleveland Browns Sept. 12.
“I was hoping it was just jammed,’’ Freeman said, his thumb immobilized with a splint and heavily bandaged. “But it was a little different pain than just being jammed. When I saw the x-ray, they said there was a little fracture. When I heard that and saw the x-ray, I was kind of freaking out. They said, “Hey, just take care of it and it’ll be a couple weeks.’ When I heard that, it made me feel a lot better.’’
While the prognosis appears optimistic, coach Raheem Morris admitted he wasn’t exactly sure when Freeman would be cleared to resume practicing.
"How big of a setback? It’s a team setback obviously when you lose your first quarterback,’’ Morris said. “We’re lucky. It’s an injury we expect him back the first week of the season. That’s very fortunate. It could be worse.
I'm sure there will be quite a bit of pearl clutching over Josh Freeman's fractured thumb from Buccaneer fans and I can't say that I blame them. All off season we were basically told that the season would rise and fall on his shoulders. Its dangerous to put so much stock into any one player, especially a guy heading into just his second year. But that's the way the Buccaneers brass want to handle it so now they will have to deal with the perception that this injury may be at least an early season killer.
Here is the way I see it however. Josh Freeman has had plenty of reps through the OTAs, mini-camps and training camp. To me his biggest step forward this year would have to come between the ears rather than with his arm. Yes he had to be more accurate, but more importantly he had to make better decisions with where to throw the ball in the first place. I think from the reports I have read, the practice I went to, and the preseason game I have seen so far he has taken tremendous strides when it comes to making the right reads, even if his passes have at times been erratic.
So the most important thing right now is for him to get that thumb healthy. Anybody who has ever thrown a football knows how important your thumb is when it comes to accuracy. And the last thing any of us should want is for Freeman to come back too soon and re injure it or make it an injury that lasts all season. Much better for him to keep on taking mental reps and work on getting healthy for the first real game. I doubt he will forget how to throw a football in the next two or three weeks and when it comes down to it I'd rather him look a little rusty throwing to the right guys against Cleveland than see him throwing ducks all over the field because he was rushed back.
In the meantime Josh Johnson will get the opportunity to show everyone what we really have in him as a back up and life will go on. There is no reason to panic until the real bullets start flying just as there was no reason to start talking playoffs. Its football, injuries happen and you just have to deal with them. I personally feel like in the grand scheme of things if his thumb is really healed by the first game this won't hurt Freeman much if at all. He has already done most of the work over the last 7 months anyway, two or three weeks won't make that much difference either way.
So take a deep breath, unclench your jaw, and just enjoy the rest of the preseason. Whatever we were going to be before this injury, we will probably be the same after it.