Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Freeman injured thumb at local shooting range
TAMPA - Struggling Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Josh Freeman needed five stitches in his right thumb following a gun mishap at a local firing range on Halloween night. The club acknowledged the incident Tuesday in response to questions by The Tampa Tribune. Previously, the Bucs had only confirmed that Freeman sprained his right thumb in the late stages of a 24-18 loss to the Chicago Bears in London on Oct. 23. Freeman wore a wrap on his injured thumb during the overseas flight when the Bucs returned to Tampa the next day, team spokesman Jonathan Grella said. On Tuesday, Freeman confirmed he also suffered a small cut on the outside of his right thumb Oct. 31, caused by an unexpected recoil while firing a gun at a range in Tampa."My thumb got sprained in the Chicago game and got cut at the range," Freeman wrote in a text message to the Tribune. "The cut was only cosmetic and didn't affect my play. The sprain, on the other hand, lingered for a few weeks.'' Grella said Freeman received five stitches Halloween evening at the Bucs facility. Freeman and GM Mark Dominik met the next day at Bucs headquarters to discuss the incident. The stitches were removed a week later, according to the Bucs. Despite the thumb injury, Freeman did not miss any practice time or any regular-season snaps, according to the Bucs. The club also said Freeman did not violate the terms of his contract by firing a weapon. Freeman, 23, has seen his passer rating plunge from 95.9 in 2010 to 74.6 this season. In the four games since the gun incident, all losses, Freeman threw five touchdown passes and six interceptions as Tampa Bay fell to 4-7. His completion percentage (62.4) during that stretch, though, is more accurate than his 61.8 percent rate overall. Before working the Bucs-Texans game Nov. 13 in Tampa, CBS analyst and former Pro Bowl quarterback Rich Gannon told the Tribune he thought Freeman was playing hurt. "I don't think he's healthy right now,'' Gannon said during pre-game warmups before Freeman was picked off three times and completed only 15-of-33 pass attempts in Houston's 37-9 victory. "That's my personal opinion. I watched Freeman practice Friday and I don't think he's 100 percent. I don't see Josh Freeman driving the ball. Quarterbacks are very funny about having any tape on their throwing hand. I could tell in practice that it's bothering him.'' In the week leading up to Tampa Bay's Nov. 6 game at New Orleans, the Bucs said Freeman participated fully in practice. Freeman was not listed on the original Wednesday injury report for that week, but Saints coach Sean Payton complained to the league office about the omission after seeing Freeman being interviewed on NFL Network wearing a wrap around his right thumb. Freeman has not worn a protective wrap in Tampa Bay's past two games.