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Simms back on field, struggling with form

Simms' struggles continue

By JOANNE KORTH
Published August 8, 2007


LAKE BUENA VISTA - Quarterback Chris Simms ran the scout team offense Tuesday afternoon, the first time he has practiced against the defense in more than a week.

Simms is working to regain his throwing rhythm after having his spleen removed early last season. The much-needed reps, though shaky at times, were an important step.

"That's the stuff that's great for me, scout-team offense," Simms said. "I get to play football and get my body to react and get in different positions. That will at least get me on the road to recovery."

Simms had a couple of passes tipped and made some wobbly throws but also hit some receivers in stride while helping the defense prepare for Friday's preseason opener against the Patriots.

"I wasn't exactly Brett Favre out there, but I made some good throws and had a few bad ones too," Simms said. "I'm just going to continue to battle. It's just a matter of time."

Oddly, Simms is listed as the No. 3 quarterback, ahead of Bruce Gradkowski, on the depth chart released Tuesday. Simms will not play against New England and Gradkowski will.

Coach Jon Gruden downplayed the accuracy of the preseason depth chart, a league requirement. He indicated Simms will continue to get scout-team reps.

"That's going to be his role for a while until he regains his overall confidence in what he's doing," Gruden said. "He had some balls tipped. He missed some throws. But he also stood in there and made some nice deliveries. It will be a work in progress the rest of this week and hopefully we'll get him ready for the next ball game."

Simms has participated in individual drills and done extra work after practice the past week but had been a bystander when the offense worked against the defense. When Gruden approached Simms about taking scout team reps, he jumped at the chance.

"He needs to regain his confidence in his stroke and certainly he needs to round himself back into football shape, and the quickness of his decisions and the delivery of the ball has to be accurate and on time," Gruden said. "The only way you do that is when you get reps."

PETITGOUT ABSENT: Team officials say they are not worried about the chronic back condition that has kept free-agent left tackle Luke Petitgout out of contact drills for more than a week.

"No, it's not a concern," general manager Bruce Allen said during an interview on WDAE 620-AM Tuesday. "We understand his situation. We get information every day from our doctors and medical staff and we feel we have a handle on it."

Petitgout did not attend Tuesday's workouts, the morning's walk-through at a nearby hotel or the afternoon practice. He will not play Friday, but Gruden expects the projected starter to return to practice and play next week in Jacksonville.

The nature of Petitgout's problem remains unclear. Asked if Petitgout had been sent to a specialist or has a herniated disc, Gruden was somewhat vague.

"I wouldn't say a specialist. Luke is doing fine, I'm told," Gruden said. "We're just taking our time. It's been a little bit frustrating. But we feel like we're on schedule for the next week's ball game.

"He has some back pain and it's been treated. It's improved tremendously. But we're going to let this thing heal. He's been through this before. He's played a long time with it."

Joanne Korth can be reached at korth@sptimes.com or 727 893-8810.