Tampa Bay has opted to keep four quarterbacks on its 53-man roster for now, but how those signal callers line up on the team’s depth chart in Seattle might not be determined until Sunday.
The only certainty is that Jeff Garcia will serve as Tampa Bay’s signal caller.
The right to back up Garcia in Seattle is still up for grabs.
Chris Simms is still attempting to regain his throwing form and mechanics, and he’s also nursing a hip injury, which essentially eliminates him from the competition for now.
The real battle for the backup job is between Bruce Gradkowski and Luke McCown. That battle was quite competitive throughout training camp and the preseason.
Gradkowski completed 62.1 percent of his passes and threw for 408 yards and tossed four touchdowns and no interceptions in Tampa Bay’s four exhibition contests.
McCown completed 72 percent of his passes for 394 yards and tossed four touchdowns and one pick in preseason.
Tampa Bay has not announced which player will back up Garcia, so it looks as though the competition between Gradkowski and McCown has carried over into the regular season.
“I’m not sure,” Gradkowski said when asked about whether there was any indication on which player would be Tampa Bay’s No. 2 quarterback in Seattle. “This is kind of how it went last year. You kind of just go with the flow because everyone has to be prepared.
“I really don’t think the depth chart matters. It’s exactly how it was last year. Me and [Tim] Rattay didn’t have a clue what was going on during the week. You just need to prepare like you are going to be the starter. Luke and I both have to be prepared going into the Seattle game. You never know what’s going to happen. But right now we are both just backing Jeff up because we would like to see him stay healthy, do well and have a great year.”
The one thing that could give Gradkowski the nod over McCown is his playing experience. As a rookie, Gradkowski started 11 games for the Buccaneers in place of Simms. McCown missed almost all of the 2006 season with a knee injury and has just four career starts, all of which came with the Cleveland Browns.
Regardless of which player earns the No. 2 quarterback job, Gradkowski feels like he’s come a long way since his rookie season.
“I just feel like a year makes a whole lot of difference,” said Gradkowski. “I feel more comfortable in the offense and just more confident. I’m actually able to help other guys out there on the field now as opposed to just being worried about what I am doing.
“I just feel more comfortable in the offense and I love the offense. I love what Coach Gruden does and how he tries to improve it week in and week out.”
Gradkowski and McCown will have to wait to resume their battle for the right to back up Garcia on Wednesday since Tuesday is the players’ day off.
But overall, Gruden is pleased with the quarterbacks on his roster.
“You have to admit that Luke McCown showed great promise in the preseason for a guy that’s been totally been gone for the last year and a half,” Gruden said. “Bruce showed tremendous promise. Bruce Gradkowski didn’t take a sack. He did well and is a young guy with promise. And Chris Simms is a young guy with promise. We have three young guys now with that have some playing experience and talent, and we have a veteran guy that we’re high on."
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