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Josh Freeman's thumb withstands full Tampa Bay Buccaneers practice

TAMPA — QB Josh Freeman passed a big test Tuesday in returning from a fractured right thumb, going through his first full practice in more than three weeks with no problems.

Coach Raheem Morris said Freeman took all the snaps he normally would, and is still expected to start Sunday against the Browns.

"He looked great being back with this football team,'' Morris said. "We look forward to him progressing throughout the week and getting better and better, and getting back to what he was doing before he went out."

Freeman said a key this week in practice is "getting a feel and knowing my limitations."

C Jeff Faine said Freeman has been throwing "extremely well," but admitted they entered Tuesday concerned about how Freeman would handle forceful snaps under center. Morris and offensive coordinator Greg Olson said everything went fine.

Asked if anything would keep him from playing, Freeman said, "Not my thumb. It would have to be something outside of that."

Freeman, who said his thumb is still swollen but much improved, acknowledged he'll have discomfort.

"It won't be bad, but obviously, it's playing football," he said. "I'm going to get tackled, I'm going to hit the ground, probably run into a few people. It depends on how (the thumb) gets hit. I have no idea what it's going to be like."

The debate in the training room is whether Freeman will wear anything protective. If so, it wouldn't be much.

"We're going to try different things," Freeman said. "Right now, I'm going without any wraps or anything. But I can see us putting a splint on the outside of it, just precautionary, not really affecting my throwing motion. Just keeping it from getting bent backwards or anything.

"We talked about a glove, but I feel better with just bare hands."

DOWN UNDER: It has been a whirlwind week for the new punter, Australian Chris Bryan.

Bryan, 28, has only been in the country since March, as he was trying to earn a spot with the Packers after spending five seasons with two Australian clubs.

Bryan, waived by Green Bay after the preseason, was heading to the club's offices Sunday to sign to its practice squad when he got the news about Tampa Bay. The Bucs waived rookie sixth-round pick Brent Bowden and signed Bryan on Monday. On Tuesday, Bowden and LB Lee Robinson were signed to the practice squad.

"I pressed the button on the elevator to sign it," Bryan said. "Then, my wife (Lauren) rings, said, 'Don't sign.' The next minute, I'm on a plane down to Tampa. It's been quite a crazy three days."

Bryan said it was "a bit of a shock" when he got cut by Green Bay, which picked P Tim Masthay, but never doubted he'd get another shot. Bryan said he'll be the holder for K Connor Barth and also said he still needs to learn a lot about the NFL, but that he plans to keep it simple. The Bucs hope for consistency, having gone through two punters last year and ranking 28th with a 41.7 average.

"I don't know too much about the game," he said. "All I know is I've got to catch the snap, kick it in a certain amount of time with hang time, and that's my job."

DEPTH CHART: As expected, second-year pro Sammie Stroughter will start opposite Mike Williams as the Z receiver. WR Micheal Spurlock will be the primary punt and kickoff returner Sunday.

E.J. Biggers will start at left cornerback as Aqib Talib serves a one-game suspension for violating the NFL's personal conduct policy.

Times staff writer Rick Stroud contributed to this report.

Josh Freeman's thumb withstands full Tampa Bay Buccaneers practice 09/07/10 [Last modified: Tuesday, September 7, 2010 10:00pm]
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