TAMPA — Tampa Bay Buccaneers cornerback C.J. Wilson’s football future was thrown into jeopardy over the Fourth of July weekend when he lost two fingers in a fireworks accident.
Bucs officials said Wednesday they were 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,’’ the team said in a statement. “We have been in contact with C.J. and are continuing to monitor the situation.”
Curtis Wilson Sr., Wilson’s father, said the fireworks did not pop out of the canister when they exploded.
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 in Lincolnton, North Carolina. “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 North Carolina State who first came to the NFL as an undrafted free agent with the Bears, Wilson, 25, is slated to begin his second season with the Bucs when training camp opens 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 agent provided details regarding the accident or the length of time Wilson might need to recover.
The possibility exists that Wilson could 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 there also is a possibility Wilson could be released.
The Bucs also have the option of keeping Wilson on their roster until he recovers, although the team will not be responsible for paying his salary for games missed while on the NFI list.
He was working almost exclusively as an outside corner with the second team during offseason workouts, but the Bucs are expected to use a three- or four-man rotation system throughout their secondary.
Wilson, who is due to earn $585,000 this year, becomes the second NFL player to have suffered a hand injury during a Fourth of July weekend mishap, joining former University of South Florida standout Jason Pierre-Paul of the New York Giants.
According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, Pierre-Paul had his right index finger amputated Wednesday at a South Florida hospital. The Giants reportedly had no knowledge of the amputation until Schefter’s report.
Information from Tribune wires was used in this report.