The battle between Josh Freeman and coach Greg Schiano continues, more than a week after the quarterback's release from the team.
The NFL Player's Association believes Schiano leaked Freeman's involvement in the league's confidential substance abuse program and wants the NFL to let it question the coach, according to correspondence obtained by USA Today on Saturday. The NFLPA believes Schiano discussed Freeman's situation with other players before he was released Oct. 3, the paper reported.
Schiano was unavailable for comment Saturday. But when asked if he was the source of the breach of Freeman's confidential information two weeks ago, Schiano replied, "Absolutely not." He also said he was "100 percent comfortable with my behavior."
Freeman, 25, who has since signed with the Vikings, confirmed he is in stage one of the substance abuse program in a statement Sept.30, hours after ESPN's Chris Mortensen reported the information, citing unnamed league and player sources.
In that statement, Freeman said he never tested positive for any illegal drugs and voluntarily submitted to additional testing after switching from his prescribed ADHD medication without notifying the NFL.
In his statement, Freeman said he had passed 46 drug tests at the Bucs' facility over the past 18 months. "Unfortunately," Freeman said, "it appears that some people who may have noticed the testing at my workplace have made hurtful and incorrect assumptions and chosen to disseminate inaccurate and very disturbing information."
According to USA Today, the NFLPA has interviewed players and agents as part of its investigation into the confidentiality breach but has no power to question Schiano or other team officials. That's why it has asked to join the NFL in the investigation, which would be unprecedented.
Freeman's agent, Erik Burkhardt, declined comment on the report.
In correspondence obtained by USA Today, the union cited nine cases - including one involving Broncos linebacker Von Miller - where the league said it would investigate a breach of confidentiality but never announced discipline.
Schiano and Freeman had a difficult relationship. Several times this offseason, Schiano indicated he wasn't sold on Freeman. After Freeman wasn't voted a team captain this fall, reports surfaced that some questioned whether Schiano manipulated the vote.
* * *
Around the league
Vikings running back Adrian Peterson is expected to play against the Panthers today, two days after the death of his 2-year-old son, ESPN reported Saturday. The boy died Friday in Sioux Falls, S.D., from injuries sustained during an alleged assault, police said. Before the announcement about the death Friday, Peterson said he would play. Lincoln County State's Attorney Tom Wollman confirmed the death of the child, who had been in critical condition at a hospital with severe head injuries since Wednesday. Joseph Patterson, 27, was charged with aggravated assault and aggravated battery in the death and is being held on $750,000 cash bond.
Vick reportedly out: Eagles quarterback Michael Vick won't be active against the Bucs today, espn.com reported. Nick Foles will start with rookie Matt Barkley, inactive for the first five games, the No. 2. Vick left last week's game against the Giants with a sore hamstring. He was a limited participant at practice Wednesday and Thursday and a full participant Friday.
Chargers: Running back Ryan Mathews, who sustained a concussion last week against the Raiders, probably will play, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported.
Information from Times wires was used in this report.
* * *
Banks set to play
Bucs rookie cornerback Johnthan Banks, diagnosed last week as the team's third player with a MRSA staph infection, has been cleared to play against the Eagles today. In a joint statement, the NFL and the players association said Banks "does not pose a risk of transmission to other players."