Cornerback C.J. Wilson’s future with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers may be in jeopardy as a result of a severe hand injury he suffered in a fireworks accident during the Fourth of July weekend.
Team officials said Wednesday they are aware of the situation but did not comment beyond expressing concern for Wilson’s health.
“It is our understanding that the injury occurred to one of his hands and our primary concern at this moment is for his long-term health. We have been in contact with C.J. and are continuing to monitor the situation.”
The Lincoln Times-News in Wilson’s hometown of Lincolnton, reported that Wilson lost two fingers in the incident. The newspaper cited sources close to the family who said the incident occurred at Wilson’s home in Lincolnton.
The injury forced Wilson to remain hospitalized for several days, but Wilson’s high school football coach said he believed Wilson would be released on Wednesday.
“I talked to him on Monday and he has a very positive spirit,’’ said Scott Cloninger, the former coach at Lincolnton High. “His comment was, he’s going to fight through this and get back to Tampa Bay and continue his career.’’
A third-year pro out of N.C. State who first came to the NFL as an undrafted free agent with the Chicago Bears, Wilson, 25, is slated to begin his second season with the Bucs when training camp opens later this month.
After signing a two-year, $1.08 million deal, Wilson appeared in two games for Tampa Bay last year, playing mostly on special teams and recording four tackles.
Neither the Bucs nor Wilson’s representatives would provide details regarding the accident or the length of time Wilson might need to recover from his injury.
The possibility exists that Wilson will be placed on the non-football injury list, which is designated for players who are unable to play or practice as a result of non-football related injuries.
However, players added to the NFI list in the preseason still count against the team’s 90-man roster, so Wilson could be released to make room for another player.
The Bucs also have the option of keeping Wilson on their roster until he recovers, although the team will not be responsible for paying Wilson’s salary for games missed while he is on the NFI list.
Wilson becomes the second NFL player to suffer a hand injury during a Fourth of July weekend mishap, joining New York Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul.