TAMPA — The Bucs have faced some scrutiny since Thursday's revelation that QB Josh Freeman sustained a minor sprain of his right thumb but was not previously included on the team's injury report.
Paying particularly close attention were the Saints, Sunday's opponent. After hearing of the news, the team reported the omission to NFL officials, coach Sean Payton told New Orleans reporters on Friday.
But Morris insisted the Bucs are not among the many teams that often engage in shenanigans with the injury report. He added that Freeman was not included because he was unaffected by the injury, having not missed any playing time or practice time.
"Usually we just put the hurt guys on there and leave the healthy guys off," Morris said. "I don't put guys on the list who tape up every day because I'd have all 53 players (on it) because they get their ankles taped every single day."
Freeman, who has had his thumb heavily taped at times this week, practiced Friday and will start at New Orleans. He has shown no effects from the injury, sustained Oct. 23 against the Bears, before last week's bye. He threw the ball with good velocity and accuracy during the week's practices. The wrap he's wearing, according to coaches, does not restrict his throwing motion.
The injury wasn't confirmed until Freeman was spotted wearing what appeared to be a splint on his right thumb during an appearance on the NFL Network on Wednesday.
"Listen, I think when your quarterback's on NFL Network with a splint on his thumb, normally he's on the injury report," Payton said, according to the New Orleans Times-Picayune. "At least take the splint off before you go on NFL Network, right?"
Regarding S Tanard Jackson, the Bucs admitted an oversight that resulted in his being omitted from the injury report.
Because Jackson left the team's previous game against the Bears with an injury (hamstring strain), NFL policy requires the team list him on the injury report, even after a bye week.
Jackson practiced Friday after being given a day off Thursday and is scheduled to start Sunday at free safety.
Morris suggested he's done with the story.
"Listen, I don't care," he said. "It's for Vegas. You can do whatever you want to do there."
OKAM, ZUTTAH OUT: Regarding more seriously injured players, DT Frank Okam (calf) and G Jeremy Zuttah (knee) will miss the game. Okam's loss is lessened by the return this week of Gerald McCoy (ankle).
Zuttah will be replaced at left guard by Ted Larsen, who began the season as the starter. C Jeff Faine (biceps) returns after missing the Chicago game.
"We're back to the original starting group," Morris said. "We're as healthy as we've been. It's nice to see these guys running around playing fast."
MADU'S DEBUT: RB Mossis Madu makes his debut on the active roster Sunday. It's unclear whether he'll see any time outside of special teams, but the recent injuries at running back have taught the rookie free agent to remain at the ready.
"I've learned that, unlike in college, where they say, 'Oh, you're a freshman. We'll give you some leniency,' you have to be ready here," he said. "Here, you're a pro and you're getting a paycheck. You have to come in and make plays and produce."
FINALLY BACK: Long snapper Andrew Economos was placed on the active roster Friday, completing his road back from the physically-unable-to-perform list. He had been sidelined with a torn Achilles' tendon sustained in the offseason.
The team cut S David Sims, signed this week, to make room on the roster.
Stephen F. Holder can be reached at [email protected]
Bucs at Saints
1 p.m., Sunday, Superdome, NewOrleans
TV/radio: Ch. 13, 620-AM, 103.5 FM
Line/over-under: Saints by 8; 50