Bucs thin at QB with Freeman hurt

TAMPA, Fla. -- Here’s a copy of the story I just sent to our news desk and I’ll provide a little analysis below.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Josh Freeman has fractured a bone in the tip of his right thumb, a team spokesman said.

Freeman left Saturday night’s exhibition game with the Kansas City Chiefs about midway through the first quarter after leading the offense to a field goal.

The team said the current expectation is that Freeman will be ready to open the regular season on Sept. 12 against the Cleveland Browns. He should be able to return to practice well before the start of the regular season, but it’s unlikely he’ll play in the final two preseason games.

Tampa Bay is very thin at quarterback behind Freeman. Josh Johnson is the backup and Rudy Carpenter is the only other quarterback on the roster.

My take: Nothing is ever a given with injuries. Even though all indications are Freeman will be ready for the season opener, any sort of setback could push that return date back. If that happens, the Bucs are in real trouble and the decision not to bring in a veteran backup in the offseason could turn out to be a huge error.

Johnson has some ability, but he’s nowhere near ready to be an NFL starter and I’m not sure he’s even a quality No. 2 quarterback. Carpenter is a guy who was on the bubble because the Bucs rumbled about going into the season with only two quarterbacks -- that was before Freeman’s injury.

Now, the Bucs at least have to bring in another quarterback just to help get them through practices. There’s not a lot out there right now. But I think the Freeman injury exposes how thin the Bucs are at the position.

If I’m in their shoes, I’m going to get a quarterback with some real starting experience. They might have to wait for other teams to make their cuts to get anyone of quality, but I think it’s clear the team needs some insurance.