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Bucs promising Simms a chance
Chris Simms will take the first snap April 10 when the Bucs begin their first organized team activity.
By RICK STROUD
Published April 1, 2007
TAMPA - Chris Simms will take the first snap April 10 when the Bucs begin their first organized team activity.
That's Jon Gruden's way of saying Simms and Eagles free agent Jeff Garcia will have a level playing field to compete for the starting quarterback job.
"Chris Simms, two of the last three years, had serious injuries," Gruden said. "He got hurt in '04, and he got hurt in '06. If you don't have another quarterback, you're not very good. You've got to be honest with your football team and give them competition at every position. We're going to let Chris Simms break the huddle on April 10, the OTA days, we're going to try to teach Jeff Garcia the offense and bring Bruce Gradkowski along. There's a chance we draft a quarterback pretty high. We're going to go visit with JaMarcus Russell and Brady Quinn, and there's a good chance we draft one of those guys."
But make no mistake, Gruden longs to have the same starting quarterback for more than one season. He has had seven since he arrived in 2002.
"You're on a new team every year when you change quarterbacks," he said. "It's no fun, really. You're not going to reach the real promised land in terms of all your efforts until you're two or three or four years into the relationship."
NO HARD FEELINGS? Cornerback Brian Kelly said he got some funny looks when he had season-ending surgery on his toe rather than fight through the injury last season. Gruden says he doesn't believe Kelly shut it down because of the Bucs' 0-4 start.
"That might be some people's opinion, but I didn't feel that," he said. "It was an injury that bothered him daily for a long time, and it didn't get any better. He shot it up. It gave him temporary relief. It hurt for three or four days. He shot it up. On and on. It hurt to practice. I think in his best interest, you sometimes have to get the injury fixed, rehab it and come back the next year. I'm not going to ever say he shut it down."
1. It's obvious linebacker Shelton Quarles can't pass a physical. Why else would he insist he can play and say it's in the team's hands? He'll be 36 in September. It sounds a lot like the John Lynch situation. The Bucs want a younger player, in this case Barrett Ruud, to take over without the debate. Quarles, like Lynch, still wants to start. The Bucs have options with Jamie Winborn, Ryan Nece and Cato June in the mix.
2. Jon Gruden loves quarterbacks, and the Bucs will kick the tires. They did it with Alex Smith and Aaron Rodgers. No. 1 picks often fail the first time around (see David Carr). It costs nothing to do your homework on JaMarcus Russell and Brady Quinn.
3. Experience tells us trading up rarely happens because it's too costly. The Bucs have an extra second-round pick, and given their Day 2 history under Bruce Allen, they'd better hang on to it. But Georgia Tech WR Calvin Johnson probably won't be there at No. 4.
4. Mike Tomlin blasted the Bucs for their policy of not allowing assistants to interview for coordinator positions while under contract. "What other industry is there where you perform at a high level, you get an opportunity for advancement and you don't advance?" he said at the owners meetings last week. "I have strong feelings about that. I'll put my money where my mouth is." Might be a reason why the Bucs couldn't attract better assistants than Jethro Franklin and Greg Burns last year.
5. Gruden says Adrian Peterson might be the best running back he's ever seen out of college. But investing two top-five picks in three years at that position doesn't make sense with all the other needs. Cadillac Williams just needs to work on catching the ball.