Josh Freeman inactive, Josh Johnson to start for Bucs

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The Buccaneers are without their starting quarterback today against the Panthers.

Josh Freeman, who has been struggling with a shoulder injury, is out of today’s game in Tampa Bay, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports. That means backup Josh Johnson will start for the first time since 2009.

For the Bucs, Freeman’s shoulder injury (and his less serious thumb injury) is another blow in a disappointing season. Tampa Bay was expected to contend for a playoff spot this season, but instead the Bucs would fall into a tie with the Panthers for last place in the NFC South if Carolina wins today.

Johnson is a shaky passer, but with he and Cam Newton in Tampa today, two of the best running quarterbacks in football will be on the field.