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: March 30, 2007, 12:16:20 PM

From St. Pete Times.com: http://www.sptimes.com/2007/03/30/Bucs/Gruden_expects_Quarle.shtml

Gruden expects Quarles to play


Shelton Quarles, who had tests on an undisclosed problem this week, appeared in 12 games last season because of injury.


PHOENIX - Bucs coach Jon Gruden said he believes linebacker Shelton Quarles will be cleared to play.

Quarles has had tests on an undisclosed physical problem but hinted this week that the decision rests with the Bucs.

"I think he's got some issues physically that he's still looking at, but I'm confident he's still going to come back and play," Gruden said. "If you ask me, he's allowed to play. We've got to let the medical people do their part also, and we'll just keep our fingers crossed and hope it works out. Shelton still can really play well."

If Quarles, 35, is forced to retire, third-year linebacker Barrett Ruud is expected to take over at middle linebacker. The Bucs also signed Colts free agent Cato June.

"It's big, you know? We didn't have him for (four) games last year, and it wasn't a lot of fun," Gruden said. "You want to have him on the football team because he's not only talented, he's a great leader."

GARCIA WILL HELP SIMMS: Chris Simms will benefit from an open competition with Eagles free agent Jeff Garcia, 37, Gruden said.

Simms, 26, signed a two-year extension in December. He went 0-3 as a starter last season with one touchdown and seven interceptions before his splenectomy.

"Chris is in his fifth year. He's not a young guy anymore," Gruden said. "It's good for Simms; it's great for Simms. I really believe it's great for all the quarterbacks to have a veteran like Garcia.

"Garcia is not your everyday veteran. This guy is a madman. He's like Mad Max in the huddle. I think some of our offensive players are in for a culture shock when they get a feel for Garcia. It's good for Bruce Gradkowski to have a guy who's done what Jeff Garcia has done in pro football. He was a third-string quarterback for the Calgary Stampeders making $28,000 Canadian dollars. It's a hell of a story. But it's going to be competitive and it should be because it wasn't good enough last year."
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