TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Tampa Bay quarterback Josh Freeman injured his right shoulder in the closing seconds of a loss at Tennessee and is day-to-day for Sunday’s game against Carolina.

Coach Raheem Morris said Freeman was hurt on a quarterback sneak that was stopped for no gain, sealing a 23-17 loss to the Titans. The third-year pro did not throw in practice Wednesday, but participated in some drills.

News of Freeman’s latest injury came on the heels of the quarterback acknowledging he aggravated a sprained thumb when a pistol he was firing at a shooting range recoiled Oct. 31. He said he used poor judgment in firing a gun during the team’s bye week, but insisted Wednesday that a cut requiring five stitches had not affected his performance or grip on the football.

The Bucs (4-7) have lost five straight games — six of seven overall — following a 3-1 start. Freeman has struggled after leading the team to a surprising 10-6 record a year ago, however he had his best game statistically a week after the accident.

“With a little free time during the bye week, I like to use the gun range. It’s a bit of an escape,” Freeman said. “I grew up shooting guns with my dad and I’ve always enjoyed shooting guns as a recreational thing. In hindsight, it wasn’t the smartest decision, but you have to learn from it.”

Freeman sprained his right thumb during a loss to Chicago in London on Oct. 23. He has maintained throughout a stretch in which the Bucs have struggled to score points that the injury was not a factor. He said Wednesday that he hadn’t revealed the gun mishap because the stitches on top on the thumb had not hindered him or forced him to miss any practices or games.

“The scratch … was purely cosmetic. The thing that was affecting it was the sprain,” said Freeman, who threw for 281 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions during a loss to New Orleans in his first game following the accident.

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

Freeman said he met with general manager Mark Dominik after the accident. Morris reiterated the quarterback used poor judgment, but was not overly critical.

“It is what it is,” Morris said. “These young guys are 23 and it is our job to try to make these guys more responsible and help them grow up a little bit.”

Freeman hurt his shoulder on Tampa Bay’s final play last Sunday. He fumbled the snap on a fourth-and-1 sneak from the Tennessee 25, recovered before nudging back to the line of scrimmage. The Titans took over on downs with 39 seconds remaining, and quarterback Matt Hasselbeck kneeled to run out the clock.

“He kind of got tackled and kind of hurt his shoulder. It is sore. Right now he is day-to-day. We were hoping he would be a full go (in practice), but he was limited,” Morris said. “We will have the opportunity to hopefully evaluate him (Thursday) and the day after that and get him going, to see if he can get the chance to play. … If he can go out and execute the game plan and give us the best chance to win, then he will play,” Morris said.

The coach said it was an “organizational” decision to hold Freeman out of passing drills on Wednesday.

“He probably could have threw it. I didn’t ask him to,” Morris said. “He went out there, handed the ball off, executed our run plays, did all that stuff in the running game.”

If Freeman doesn’t play against the Panthers, he would be replaced by Josh Johnson.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press.


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