Bucs coach Jon Gruden won't wait to see whether quarterback Chris Simms can return this week from a shoulder injury. Brian Griese will start Sunday against Chicago.
When asked at his weekly news conference Tuesday if he was ready to say Griese will be the quarterback for the foreseeable future, Gruden responded, "Yes. I think I am."
In Monday's 28-21 loss to St. Louis, Griese completed his first nine passes, and 27 of 40 overall for 286 yards and two touchdowns. He was intercepted in the Rams' end zone in the fourth quarter, but otherwise played well for the second straight week. He came off the bench to spark a 20-17 victory at New Orleans eight days earlier.
"I think he has been very, very good in his performances," Gruden said. "When you complete 74 or 75 percent of your passes in consecutive weeks on the road, and look at the tape, and look at the types of plays that he has made, he gets your attention. Brian will be the starter against the Bears and we expect him to improve and be a force for us."
Griese, 29, was a starter in Denver from 1999-2002. He started five games for Miami last year. For his career, Griese has completed 62.2 percent of his passes for 13,056 yards, 79 touchdowns and 60 interceptions.
"I am really excited about what Brian Griese has done in this system," Gruden said.
LONG-AWAITED RETURN: Receiver Joe Jurevicius, who hasn't seen action since last November, is expected to play against the Bears. He had surgery this summer to repair a herniated disc in his back, and surgery to repair a torn ligament in his knee 10 months ago. He failed a physical after reporting to training camp because of the back injury.
"I understand that Joe is ready to go," Gruden said. "I give that guy a lot of credit."
A big, physical receiver, Jurevicius was expected to be one of the top threats this fall. In his seven-year career, he has only 19 starts, but Jurevicius was crucial in the Bucs' drive to the Super Bowl two seasons ago.
"It will be a great thing, I think, for our offensive team to get a guy we've counted on and missed," Gruden said.
Another Bucs receiver, Joey Galloway (groin), isn't quite ready to return, Gruden said.
ONE BACK, ONE GONE: Defensive tackle Damian Gregory, a key backup who injured the patellar tendon in his left knee shortly before halftime Monday night, is out for the season. He appeared in every game.
"It's too bad," Gruden said. "He's a young guy who came in here and we feel did a great job for us. We'll miss him."
INJURY UPDATE: Fullback Mike Alstott (right hip pointer) is probable; defensive lineman Ellis Wyms (left shoulder sprain) is probable; receiver Charles Lee (right knee sprain) is day-to-day; fullback Greg Comella (left pectoral strain) is questionable; tight end Dave Moore (concussion) is questionable.