By Max Luckan
Even though Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Josh Freeman has been benched, he’s still finding ways to make headlines. In doing so, he’s further adding to the multitude of distractions the Bucs are already facing as they prepare to take on the Arizona Cardinals this Sunday. Freeman confessed in an interview with ESPN that there was talk about trading him.
“There’s been a lot of talk of this,” Freeman said. “There was talk of this before there was talk of this, if that makes sense. I don’t know how this thing is going to end up.”
While the Freeman situation is currently a distraction, the Bucs need to tune it out and focus on the Cardinals.
On Thursday, wide receivers Mike Williams and Vincent Jackson missed practice. Williams is dealing with a lingering hamstring issue, but Williams, or “Robin,” expects to play against Arizona.
“Batman [Jackson] will be back,” Williams said. “You know Robin is going to be there. I’m Robin. He’s Batman.” As rookie quarterback Mike Glennon prepares to make his first NFL start, it is crucial that at least Williams is able to play. But if Jackson, who is dealing with a rib injury, is unable to play, either Kevin Ogletree or Eric Page will have to step up.
Defensive tackle Derek Landri still has a pretty severe knee injury that again kept him out of practice on Thursday. It’s unlikely that he will be able to play against the Cardinals. It looks like defensive end Trevor Scott will see additional playing time again. Left guard Gabe Carimi did not practice because of an illness, but Carl Nicks is back in the starting lineup, so that shouldn’t make too much of a difference.
Meanwhile, tight end Tom Crabtree is still limited due to an ankle sprain. Crabtree’s status for Sunday is uncertain, but his presence on the field would be of great help to Glennon, who needs as many weapons as possible in his first start.
Defensive tackle Gary Gibson was limited in practice on Thursday because of a back injury. His status is also unclear for this Sunday, but the Bucs need all the help they can get on a defensive line that has played very well so far. And defensive tackle Gerald McCoy will play despite dealing with a minor ankle injury suffered last week.
Star wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald has a nagging hamstring injury that has caused him to miss some practices in recent weeks. But on Thursday, Fitzgerald was a full participant and is fully expected to play. That means Bucs cornerback Darrelle Revis will likely face his toughest task of the year: guarding Fitzgerald.
Linebacker Kevin Minter did not participate in practice on Thursday because of a hamstring injury. Minter is unlikely to play on Sunday, meaning the Cardinals will be very thin at the linebacker position. The Bucs will most certainly test Arizona’s depth by establishing the run with Doug Martin early on.
Safety Rashad Johnson lost part of his finger in last week’s game and did not practice on Thursday. While an interesting case, Johnson said he expects to play against the Bucs.
“Yes, in my gut, I think I’ll play,” Johnson said, according to ESPN. “But it will really come down to getting cleared by the doctors. They’re going to want to make sure everything is okay.”
Other than that, the Cardinals appear to be pretty healthy heading into Sunday’s contest against the Bucs.
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.