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Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Josh Freeman could sit out Sunday with shoulder injury

Bucs QB Josh Freeman hurt his throwing shoulder Sunday against the Titans while being stopped on fourth and 1.

Associated Press

Bucs QB Josh Freeman hurt his throwing shoulder Sunday against the Titans while being stopped on fourth and 1.

TAMPA — The hits on quarterback Josh Freeman — a sprained thumb, a mishap at a gun range that required five stitches to the same finger eight days later — have only caused him to miss receivers.

But the latest blow could force him to miss a game.

Freeman missed a portion of practice Wednesday and is day to day with a right (throwing) shoulder injury, coach Raheem Morris said. Freeman was hurt after dropping the snap on the final offensive play of Sunday's loss to the Titans, a failed sneak on fourth and 1.

Backup Josh Johnson took reps with the first team Wednesday. Morris said Freeman probably could have thrown, but trainers believed it was best to give him a day off.

"He went out there, handed the ball off, executed our run plays, did all that stuff in the run game, and he watched J.J.," Morris said.

What will determine if Freeman plays Sunday against Carolina?

"If he can go out there and execute the game plan and give us the best chance to win, then he'll play," Morris said. "He's just got to go out there and practice.

"(Freeman's situation) is one of those that will go all the way up until Saturday … potentially even Sunday. He's one of those guys who's going to get all the mental reps, the mental capacity, all that type of thing. And if he can throw it, then he can throw it. And if he can't, then he can't."

Freeman stood on a podium Wednesday at One Buc Place fielding more questions about his decision-making. Nothing unusual about that for a quarterback who has thrown 16 interceptions this season.

"In hindsight, it wasn't the smartest decision, but you've got to learn from it," he said.

But rather than describing a bad read or wayward pass, Freeman was contrite about his choice of weapons off the field.

Freeman sustained a cut Oct. 31 to the thumb on his throwing hand at a shooting range when the Desert Eagle semiautomatic pistol he was firing recoiled. Freeman said the injury, which occurred eight days after he sprained the same thumb during a 24-18 loss to Chicago in London, required five stitches but did not affect his ability to grip or throw a football.

Freeman said he had fired the weapon "countless" times and been to the shooting range during an off day two weeks before the mishap. But after meeting with general manager Mark Dominik, he said he will no longer go to the range during the season.

"With a little free time during the bye week, I like to use the gun range," Freeman said. "It's a bit of an escape. I grew up shooting guns with my dad, and I've always enjoyed shooting guns as a recreational thing.

"Obviously, it was a poor choice of judgment doing it in season. But at the end of the day, I've got to live with the consequences, and I'm moving forward."

The Bucs have lost five games in a row and six of their past seven while Freeman's passer rating has dipped from 95.9 in 2010 to 74.6 this season.

Since spraining his right thumb, Freeman has thrown five touchdowns and six interceptions and lost four straight as the Bucs have fallen to 4-7.

"It's definitely been rough," he said. "We have a lot of competitive guys, and we've lost some close games. You hate to see them turn out like they have been when you look at this (Titans) game, you look at the New Orleans game, the Chicago game. If you're looking back, there were just a few plays if you'd executed a little bit better, maybe done something a little different, you'd have a chance to win. Really, the outlook would be different."

Instead, by bobbling a simple snap, it could be Freeman's last for awhile.

"That's the shame of it," Morris said. "Executing the simplest play of football, the quarterback-center exchange, we didn't execute it and got our quarterback hurt, potentially."

Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Josh Freeman could sit out Sunday with shoulder injury 11/30/11 [Last modified: Wednesday, November 30, 2011 9:49pm]
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