Bucs’ Freeman Questionable for Week 1 against Browns

Parker Fox, Staff Writer

Bucs’ Freeman Questionable for Week 1 against Browns

Tampa, Fla.- Bucs starting quarterback Josh Freeman found it hard not to show concern on the sideline after his thumb hit against a Chiefs lineman’s helmet during an exhibition game last Saturday, August 21.  “I could see guys looking at me and seeing how I was reacting on the sideline.  Obviously, you can’t act like everything is lost, because it’s not,” Freeman said.

According to team doctors, Freeman should be able to play no later than week 2, but the team is still holding out hope that he will be behind center against the Browns.  As far as a backup goes, the Bucs have a few inexperienced options.  Expected to start week 1 if Freeman is unable to play is 3rd year pro Josh Johnson who started four games last year.  The Bucs acquired 3rd string quarterback Rudy Carpenter last year from the Cowboys scout team.

But there is no denying the drop-off from the Bucs starter to his backups.  If Freeman is still unable to play after week 1, the Bucs will be forced to play one of two quarterbacks who combine for an 0-4 record in the NFL as starters.

“It’s a huge setback, obviously, when you lose your quarterback,” Bucs coach Raheem Morris said.

But even if Freeman is unable to play week 1, he is still behind others in the league who have benefited from four pre-season games.  Freeman has only play three series in the pre-season.

“I’ll be back, ready to go.  It’s not like I’m just going to be sitting doing nothing,” said Freeman.  “I’ll still be working footwork drills, still running, still getting the mental part of the game.”

The team travels north for week 2 to face their divisional rival, the Carolina Panthers.

The Bucs are expected to improve on a dismal 3-13 season.  It won’t be easy in what some call the toughest division in the NFC.  The team is in a “rebuilding” process after firing coach Jon Gruden before last season and hiring new coach Raheem Morris.  They drafted Freeman with their first pick of the 2009 NFL Draft hoping for him to become their franchise quarterback.  It is crucial for the team to get off on the right foot for 2010 and having a healthy Freeman would certainly make a difference.

“It’s a minor setback.  I’m looking forward to attacking this thing, and getting it right, and getting ready for week  1,” said Freeman.