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August 25, 2010 @ 11:30 am
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Carlson: Freeman Should Be Ready For Cleveland

Written by Jeff
Jeff Carlson


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Pewter Report contributing writer and former Bucs QB Jeff Carlson discusses the thumb injury suffered by Bucs QB Josh Freeman. Carlson details his own history with throwing hand injuries and how he thinks it will impact Freeman's timetable to return and produce. Carlson also shares his thoughts regarding the Bucs' offense.

The fractured tip of the thumb suffered by Bucs quarterback Josh Freeman rocked the Buccaneers world. Some find it hard to estimate if Freeman can be ready to practice and play in the season opener in less than three weeks, but I think he will be able to come back on time.

I broke my ring finger on my right hand in college, and I didn't have an x-ray. All they did was make sure that the tendons were still connected so I had full movement. I taped that knuckle, and kept playing. Freeman didn't have any tendon damage, and that is very fortunate for the Buccaneers.

The thumb though is a worse finger to have an issue with because you are holding the ball with the thumb, but I don't think it is that big of deal. It's not his arm. It's not his elbow. I think after the time off he can put some tape around it for padding and will be able to play on Week 1. Thus, I don't think it will be a major problem for him to play in three weeks.

Any quarterback in the NFL will tell you that you can have a hand injury on any play, and it is normal to have different fingers on your throwing hand that are sore on a regular basis. Any play you can follow through on a throw and hit somebody's helmet. I have larger knuckles on certain fingers from doing that. It is just a part of the game, and other players like linemen deal with it constantly. Obviously they aren't holding the ball, but all players deal with it.

Wide receivers consistently dislocate fingers and they pop it back in and they keep is throbbing and they just play with it. It really is a pain tolerance issue. I don't think it is something that Josh Freeman can't handle. The next question is how will playing with the injury effect his production.

I doubt they would put him back in there if he can't throw it accurately. I think ball security will be something they'll watch closely in practice as well. They'll want to see him avoid dropping the ball as he rears back to throw, and the quarterback-center exchange. The thumb gets hit when he takes a snap from under center, so they'll want to see that Freeman isn't dropping the snap in practice. It comes down to if he is throwing the ball the same way he was before the injury than they'll let him play. If not then Josh Johnson has to be the guy that plays.

In probably two weeks maximum I think Freeman will be able to hold the ball tightly and throw it. Is it going to hurt? Definitely. I'm sure that Freeman has felt that kind of pain with an injury before like a lot of other quarterbacks. You learn to do it. Whether it is bruised ribs, a separated shoulder, or a broken tip of the thumb you have to throw the ball well for the team. If you can't do it, you have to tell coaches and it is their decision.

The one thing that Freeman and the coaches will want to make sure is that Freeman doesn't change the way he throws the ball to compensate for pain from the thumb. There can be an inclination by some players to change the mechanics of how they throw the ball to lessen the pain, and that is what quarterbacks coach Alex Van Pelt is really going to have to monitor. If he is compensating and throwing off balance or holding it differently, than Van Pelt has to step in and correct it. Freeman has some responsibility to tell truth if it is too much, or if he's not able to grip the ball the way he feels comfortable.

Again though, I think Freeman will be back in practice in time to prepare for Cleveland and make that start.

My overall impressions of the offense thus far in the preseason is that the offense is running very basic stuff. They haven't broken out any of the new formations that we saw them running during the OTAs (organized team activities). They are doing standard stuff trying to get off the ball, and play solid football without previewing any other new wrinkles to the offense.

I like the idea of Kareem Huggins as a scat-back type guy, that is quicker than Cadillac Williams, serving as Williams' backup. I like the offense having a guy with some jitterbug and quickness back there to give the defense something to worry about. I think they should get Huggins in earlier in the game and in long down-and-distance situations so he can make a guy miss and generate some bigger plays.

My biggest worry with the offense is right now there is not very much to concern a defense with as far as mismatches. The wide receivers are coming along and showing signs of being something to be excited about in the future, but right now it doesn't seem like there is much to cause a defensive coordinator to make special plans for or over compensate on. Hopefully, the Buccaneers are saving that and will break that out against Cleveland.

By Jeff Carlson as told to Pewter Report Editor-in-Chief Charlie Campbell.
Last modified on Thursday, 09 September 2010 22:09

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    Where's the beef??
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    Yeah, not a "Regular Feature" here.
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    How about some updates? "Former Bucs" is a good idea for a regular feature, but this is just a single article.
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