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Rick Stroud, Greg Auman and Matt Baker

Injured Tampa Bay Buccaneers punter Josh Bidwell says career far from over



Tampa Bay Buccaneers veteran punter Josh Bidwell acknowledged that his upcoming season-ending hip surgery couldn't have come at a worse time, but says its' the best move for the long term.

Bidwell, 33, the franchise's most successful punter, said doctors have told him that after the arthroscopic procedure, "I'll be 100 percent and can play another five or six years if I want."

Bidwell also has quite a bit of perspective as someone who has battled testicular cancer in his past, pointing out his Sept 1-2 surgery date is "oddly enough my 10-year anniversary from being diagnosed with cancer."

"So it's God's little reminder that I'll be just fine," he said.

Bidwell, a 2005 Pro Bowl selection owns the top four single-season punting averages in club history. Since joining the Bucs in 2004, he has averaged a franchise-high 44 yards per punt. That's why this injury caught him a bit by surprise.

Bidwell said the hip wasn't anything that was a hindrance at all the past couple seasons, ("Everybody plays through pain") but it started becoming an issue the second week of training camp. He said he kicked through it initially, and had some tests done before taking a few days off.

Once Bidwell resumed kicking, he felt fine, but that night "it just fell apart." He said they ran a bunch of tests but determined he couldn't do anything treatment-wise because the injury was in the joint.

"Apparently things just kind of tore a little more and shifted," Bidwell said. "Once it shifted enough, I had pain when I was swinging my leg through. It was like a stabbing (pain). There was nothing you can do about it, because it had to be fixed. There was no way around it."

Bidwell, speaking at Tropicana Field Sunday before watching his wife, Bethany, play in the charity softball game between the Bucs wives and Rays wives, said he still has to be careful walking around. But Bidwell said with a full offseason to recover and prepare, he'll be ready for the 2010 season.

"Long-term, this is the best move to have it done now," Bidwell said. "It's the worst timing I could think of. But I can be available and 100-percent for another five or six years or more if I want."


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[Last modified: Wednesday, May 26, 2010 3:38pm]


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