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Chris Simms on shaky ground in Tampa Bay


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Bucs Might Not Be Ready To Release Simms Just Yet

By Roy Cummings of The Tampa Tribune

Published: August 28, 2007

TAMPA Bucs coach Jon Gruden didn't appear to be in the best of moods Monday. He seldom is on cutdown day.

It may be part of a head coach's job, but vaporizing some kid's dream of playing in the NFL is one part most coaches, Gruden included, detest.

"It's always hard, but you've got to do it," said Gruden, whose most difficult cutdown decision may involve quarterback Chris Simms and is therefore still to be made.

Simms was not among the nine players cut by the Bucs on Monday and he probably won't be among those cut today when the Bucs reduce their roster to the 75-man limit.

He could still be among those who get cut when the Bucs scale their roster back to the league-mandated 53 players Saturday, but even that is starting to border on the unlikely.

Though Simms' preseason performance seemingly has made him a prime candidate for release, the Bucs aren't ready to part ways with him just yet. Some within the organization believe they have invested far too much time and money in Simms to let him go now, even if it means keeping four quarterbacks on the active roster.

Gruden wouldn't say precisely where he stood on the issue Monday, but he also didn't rule out the possibility of keeping four quarterbacks, even though he can't remember ever doing it before.

"I can't say we wouldn't do that," Gruden said of keeping four quarterbacks. "We're going to try to keep our best players and certainly we've got some good quarterbacks."

The best of the bunch is clearly Jeff Garcia. Based on their work this preseason, Luke McCown and Bruce Gradkowski fall into line somewhere after that. Then there's Simms.

His preseason has been abysmal, marred by a sore elbow at the start of camp and the lingering effects of the splenectomy that ended his 2006 season after three games.

Lately, though, Simms has been showing signs of improvement on the practice field and he didn't look out of place or out of sync during his first game action in almost a year Saturday night against Miami.

During his one series of work, Simms handed the ball off three times and threw two passes, including one that was dropped by the receiver and was pitched illegally after Simms was flushed out of the pocket.

The brevity of the outing left some thinking Simms was injured when he took a hit on the last play, but Simms has said since that the outing actually went as planned.

"Coach said he might throw me in there for a series just to get me out there, or in his words, 'smell the huddle again,'" Simms said. "I smelled it.

"It smelled just as I remembered. It was good."

Simms is slated to smell the huddle again Thursday when the Bucs host the Houston Texans in their final preseason tuneup. Beyond that, Simms has no idea what will happen.

"Those are things you have to ask [Gruden]," Simms said. "I'm just going to continue to work and try to get better. I'm not going to worry about the things I can't control."

Gruden has been asked about Simms repeatedly, and he's clearly growing tired of the issue. Still, it's an issue that figures to linger at least until the final cutdown is made.

"We're going to try to keep the best players," Gruden said. "Not a lot of teams keep four [quarterbacks], and some teams keep two. So we have some tough decisions to make there and we'll make 'em."

Quarterback isn't the only place where Gruden has some tough decisions to make. He also has to decide on a starting center and a starting second receiver to work opposite Joey Galloway.

But it seems those decisions may have already been made. Though it could still change, it appears veteran John Wade has retained his job as the starting center.

Meanwhile, at the flanker position, Gruden is talking as though he will at least start the season with flanker by committee that employs Michael Clayton, Maurice Stovall, David Boston and Ike Hilliard almost evenly.

"I don't think guys haven't stepped up," Gruden said when asked about a leader in the battle for the starting flanker job. "They've done what we've asked of them. They've worked their butts off. It's just close.

"With that being said, we might have a committee playing flanker for a couple of games. A lot of teams do that and it's not a bad thing. But we feel like we've got good players there and there's nothing wrong with that."

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Its crazy how fast your luck can change in this league...one day your in playoffs...and then 18 months later you may be looking for another job...

Simms, Leftwich, and Plummer (AFC Championship Game) all started games in 05 playoffs...

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The Falcons say that Harrington is pretty good, and it seems that the receivers and him click better than Vick did. Maybe Joey is the next Vinny T, bust, then have a few good years with a new team.

Petrino is an outstanding offensive coach. That unit is going to exceed expectations with him there.

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