TAMPA — The only thing Bucs quarterback Josh Freeman is interested in spinning is a football, so he's not making excuses for the team's three-game losing streak.
But Freeman finally admitted Wednesday that the sprained thumb on his right (throwing) hand has affected him "maybe a little bit."
Freeman injured the thumb in the Bucs' 24-18 loss to the Bears on Oct. 23 in London, a game in which he threw four interceptions.
After resting during the bye week that followed, Freeman said he took two hits on the thumb at New Orleans in a 27-16 loss to the Saints (in which he completed 27 of 37 passes for 281 yards, a touchdown and no interceptions).
On Sunday, Freeman went 15-of-35 for 170 yards, a touchdown and three interceptions in a 37-9 loss to the Texans.
Freeman said the thumb is nearly healed.
Asked if the injury has had any effect on how he can throw or grip the ball, Freeman said, "Maybe a little bit. But at the same time, being out there, you can't really make excuses for anything. If you're going to be out there playing, you've got to go out and prepare to play well.
"The Bears game, I kind of strained it. Then, right out of the gate in the Saints game, it gets hit again. Then it gets hit again and again.
"I'm feeling really good about it because this past week, Houston, I didn't get it hit at all. I mean, it feels good. Maybe the Saints were going for it, maybe not. I don't know."
The Saints notified the NFL office that Freeman should be on the Bucs' injury report when they saw him in an interview with the NFL Network wearing a splint on his right thumb several days before their Nov. 6 game.
Freeman has been on the injury report since, though he has not been limited in practice.
Former Raiders quarterback Rich Gannon, who was an analyst for CBS for Sunday's game against the Texans, said he thought Freeman's thumb was bothering him after watching practice Friday and the game.
Freeman said he threw the ball well in the walk-through Wednesday morning.
"Being out there, you have to play well enough to win," Freeman said. "The thumb is continuing to get better. It's feeling great, I'd say nearly 100 percent right now. It's not something I'm concerned about. … It's basically normal."
Even so, Freeman practiced Wednesday with the thumb taped and still is on the injury report.
Noting that Freeman played the first four games last season with the same thumb fractured, coach Raheem Morris said it's not an excuse for the losing streak.
"In my eyes, I don't see it as a factor," Morris said. "My young quarterback, his job is to go out there and deliver the football with precision and timing, and that's what he has to do.
"We definitely won't make excuses for our losing streak right now for a sprained thumb. … Nobody cares. Our job is to go win football games, and that's what we plan to do."
Rick Stroud can be reached at email@example.com. Follow the St. Petersburg Times' Bucs coverage on Twitter at @BucsBeat.
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