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September 5, 2010 @ 4:00 pm
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Faine Takes Cautious Approach When Snapping To Freeman

Written by Scott
Reynolds
Scott Reynolds

Scott
Reynolds

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Tampa Bay QB Josh Freeman has rehabbed his broken thumb well enough over the past two weeks to where he is ready to practice and start against Cleveland in the 2010 regular season opener. Center Jeff Faine must make sure that one of his hard snaps doesn't re-injure Freeman's thumb.
Bucs center Jeff Faine is encouraged by the progress made by quarterback Josh Freeman, who has been nursing the tip of his broken thumb back to health since suffering the injury when he banged his right thumb on the helmet of Kansas City outside linebacker Tamba Hali on August 21. That injury caused Freeman to miss the rest of the preseason and he has only recently begun to throw the football again – just in time for Tampa Bay’s 2010 season opener on Sunday against Cleveland at Raymond James Stadium.

After two weeks of rehab and treatment, Freeman took a big step on Thursday prior to the Bucs’ preseason finale at Houston when he took several snaps from Faine and threw a few passes during Tampa Bay’s warm-ups. Because taking a hard snap and banging Freeman’s right thumb with the ball could cause it to swell up again, Faine admits to being cautious with the second-year starting quarterback.

“I snapped to him in Houston and we took it slow,” Faine said. “I was a little nervous. But he said, ‘Okay, now let me have it.’ Naturally, I snap it pretty hard anyways – harder than most centers. At least that’s what quarterbacks have told me. I was a little nervous, but once he’s a full-go guy, I’ve got to just let it go and let him have it and not worry about it.”

Freeman, who was 6-of-8 (75 percent) passing for 74 yards with one touchdown and no interceptions in the preseason after starting nine games in 2009, has vowed to return from the injury in time for the season opener,

“The kid is a big kid,” Faine said. “He’s a tough kid and I didn’t expect anything less than him throwing the ball in Houston, to be honest with you. I wasn’t shocked. I wasn’t surprised. I was encouraged that we are going to be able to have him back for the first game. He’s been running through the walk-throughs with the [first-team offense] during the last couple days. I think he’s going to come back and do his thing. I’m excited to have him back.”

However, broken bones usually take six weeks to fully heal and Freeman is attempting to return to action in half that time. Faine is aware that Freeman could reinjure his thumb at any moment in the season opener against Cleveland.

“He could do it all over again,” Faine said. “One bad snap or handoff and he could have to go through all this again.”

Faine has complete confidence that backup Josh Johnson could step in and lead the team to victory against Cleveland despite the fact that Johnson was 0-4 as the Bucs’ starter last year just because of the improvement he’s seen from the third-year quarterback. Johnson has completed 62.2 percent of his passes this preseason after completing 50.4 percent of his throws last year during the regular season.

“These guys are very, very, very capable backups,” Faine said of Johnson and third-string QB Rudy Carpenter. “Josh Johnson is not just a strong-armed quarterback that will make an occasional good pass. He’s a guy that can make the precise passes as well. I think he’s a very, very intelligent player.”

As well as Johnson has played during the preseason, Faine and the rest of the Buccaneers organization hopes that Freeman’s thumb is on the full road to recovery. But just to be on the safe side, Tampa Bay’s starting center might want to take a little bit of heat off the snaps during practice this week and on Sunday when the Buccaneers kick the 2010 regular season off against the Browns.
Last modified on Thursday, 09 September 2010 21:10
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