By Max Luckan
The problems surrounding the Tampa Bay Buccaneers don’t appear to be getting any better soon, especially with the team getting ready to face a strong opponent in the New England Patriots this week. The Bucs have been the subject of much controversy surrounding a disconnect between quarterback Josh Freeman and head coach Greg Schiano, and on top of that, safety Dashon Goldson was suspended one game for his helmet-to-helmet hit on New Orleans Saints running back Darren Sproles. However, there is at least one bit of good news for the Bucs: Carl Nicks will likely be back in the starting lineup this week.
Carl Nicks Likely to Play Against New England
Nicks missed the game against the New Orleans Saints because he just wasn’t in shape football-wise, but he should be ready to go against the Patriots. Even though running back Doug Martin ran the ball very well against the Saints, the Bucs will welcome the added boost on the offensive line.
Goldson Suspended One Game
Bucs safety Dashon Goldson has been suspended for one game without pay for his helmet-to-helmet hit on Darren Sproles in last week’s game.
Goldson was fined $30,000 by the league for his hit on New York Jets tight end Jeff Cumberland, but missing the Patriots game will cost Goldson his paycheck of $264,705. Goldson will appeal his suspension, per a league source, and can request an expedited hearing before the game against the Patriots. But otherwise, he will not be allowed to practice this week or play in Sunday’s game.
Merton Hanks, the NFL vice president of football operations, informed Goldson of the suspension in a letter on Monday.
“You had an unobstructed path to your opponent,” Hanks wrote. “It is clear that you lowered your head and unnecessarily rammed the left side of your helmet into the left side of your opponent’s head. You delivered a forceful blow with your helmet and made no attempt whatsoever to wrap up your opponent or make a conventional tackle on the play. This illegal contact clearly could have been avoided.”
Coach Schiano said on Monday that Goldson’s tendency to draw personal fouls was not a concern for the Bucs when they decided to sign him in free agency.
“No, when we made the decision to bring Dashon here, that was not a concern,” Schiano said at his press conference. “Was I aware that he was a big hitter? Yes. And it’s not a concern now … Dashon is trying to do the right thing. He’s just got to lower his target point.”
Josh Freeman Requests Trade?
On Sunday, a report surfaced that Bucs quarterback Josh Freeman was likely to seek a trade before the deadline in October. The report, of course, only added more fuel to the fire, as there’s been speculation that Schiano and Freeman are not on the same page at all.
Freeman has played very poorly in the first two games this season, throwing for only 335 yards and completing a mere 45.3 percent of his passes so far. Of course, Freeman denied the report that he wants out of Tampa Bay.
“Actually, the first I’d heard of it was literally 10 seconds ago, right before I walked in here,” Freeman said after Sunday’s loss to the Saints. “Without a doubt, I’m a Buccaneer. I’m continuing to prepare, and try to go out every week to give my team a chance to win the game.”
While it’s highly unlikely that Freeman first heard about the report about 12 hours after it was published, ultimately it won’t matter. His play will matter, and if he keeps playing at an extremely low level, he won’t be with the Bucs for very long, one way or the other.
The Bucs currently have massive problems at the quarterback position, and this latest report won’t calm the storm, no matter what Freeman says.
For more Bucs news and updates, visit Bucs Central.
Max Luckan lives in Tampa, FL and is a sports writer covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and NFL. Luckan has been covering the Buccaneers for a few years now. Max is a freelance writer covering all things NFL. His work can be found on Examiner.com.