Buccaneers quarterback Chris Simms is expected to report to Celebration Hotel for the start of training camp with the rest of his teammates on Friday.
Simms, who made some critical comments towards Jon Gruden for the way he felt he was treated by Tampa Bay's head coach after the spleen injury he suffered during the 2006 regular season, skipped the Bucs' voluntary workouts and the team's three-day mandatory mini-camp during the offseason because he does not believe he has a long-term future in Tampa Bay.
Simms lobbied for a trade or release through local newspapers and radio stations, but to no avail.
Not only do the Bucs not plan to trade or release Simms, Tampa Bay expects the former 2003 third-round draft pick to compete for a 53-man roster spot.
"I met with Chris last week and told him what I envisioned for him," said Bucs general manager Bruce Allen. "He will be reporting to training camp. This will be a good chance for him to get back out onto the football field and get back into a practice- or game-like situation. We expect Chris there."
After finishing the last two seasons on injured reserve, the Bucs are anxious to see how Simms performs on the football field. Simms has maintained that he has regained his throwing form and is 100 percent healthy.
Tampa Bay has five quarterbacks – Jeff Garcia, Brian Griese, Luke McCown, Josh Johnson and Simms — on their roster, and there's a decent chance the team is prepared to keep four signal callers on its 53-man roster.
But the Bucs see some value in keeping Simms around. Should Garcia, Griese or McCown suffer a long-term injury in camp, Simms, who received a $3 million signing bonus in Dec. of '06 and has one year remaining on his contract, likely would become the No. 3 quarterback on the team ahead of Johnson, a 2008 fifth-round pick.
Simms suggested earlier this offseason that he would welcome the media circus that could follow him into training camp, but the Bucs do not appear to be concerned with that possibility.
"I think the p.r. stunt from a few weeks ago did a disservice to Chris," said Allen. "I'm concerned about our football team and what is going to help us win. I don't always listen to the background music all of the time. What some might consider distractions isn't even a blip on our radar."
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