Quarterback Brian Griese’s season is over.
That news was made official Wednesday when the Buccaneers placed Griese on injured reserve with a knee injury he sustained Sunday during Tampa Bay’s 27-13 win over the Miami Dolphins.
“We did everything we could, and Brian wanted to do everything also, to get as much information as we could,” Bucs head coach Jon Gruden said. “There was a glimmer of hope that we could put it in a cast and possibly get him back in four to six weeks. But at the end of all the research, this is an injury that’s going to cause him to miss the rest of the season.
While they placed Griese on IR, the Bucs would not elaborate on the official diagnosis of the knee injury, which had previously been widely reported as an ACL and MCL tear.
“He’s out for the season. I don’t know the official jargon,” Gruden said. “I’ve heard MCLs and ACLs. He’s hurt, he’s out for the year. He’ll have season-ending surgery shortly and he’ll continue to be with the team and help our young quarterbacks, and hopefully come back bigger and stronger and better than ever next year.”
Although he’ll be sidelined for the rest of the season, Griese is expected to help new starting QB Chris Simms and backups Luke McCown and newcomer Tim Rattay in the classroom.
“We will lean on him,” Gruden said of Griese. “He’s a leader on this team. He’s been voted captain almost unanimously by this football team and his leadership will be a big part of our team this season. There’s no question about that, and hopefully for seasons to come.”
The Bucs, who are in their bye week, spent Monday working on different aspects of their game and preparing Simms to lead their offense. According to Gruden, Simms, a third-year quarterback, will have the remaining 10 regular season games to show what he’s capable of.
“We think he’s getting better,” Gruden said of Simms. “We gave him the ball in Week Five last year, so we obviously felt he showed promise and improvement. No offense to him, but Griese did play very well when he got injured. It’s his turn now and we won’t have a short leash. We’re going to let him play and we’re going to stay with him. We expect him to go out there, take the torch from Brian Griese and play well.”
Gruden and the Bucs hope Simms’ strong work ethic translates into success on the football field for the former third-round draft pick.
“This guy’s worked his butt off,” said Gruden. “I’ve never been around a guy who has worked as hard as Chris has at the game, the nuances of the system, understanding defenses and physically going at it every day. He’s as mature as they get. Whether or not it transfers onto the grass, he’ll prove that. But we’re going to do all we can to help him and we’re excited about that process.”
Tampa Bay’s newest signal caller – Rattay – arrived at One Buc Place on Wednesday morning after being traded by the 49ers to the Bucs roughly 24 hours earlier.
The sixth-year quarterback was on the second hole of a golf course in California when his wife called him to let him know he had been traded to Tampa Bay. According to Rattay, that was good news.
“I was excited and real fired up,” Rattay recalled when asked about his reaction to being traded. “To come to this organization, which has things going with the right coach, I’m fired up about this opportunity.”
The Bucs were interested in acquiring Rattay during the offseason, but talks with the 49ers never really progressed. But with Griese sidelined and Tampa Bay in need of a veteran quarterback, the Bucs landed Rattay by trading an undisclosed 2006 draft pick to San Francisco.
‘It’s always nice to know a team wants you,” said Rattay. “They had mentioned to me that they tried to get me earlier in the offseason, so that’s good to know. Now I’m just eager to go out and prove myself and prove to (the 49ers) that they were wrong for what they did.”
Ironically, Rattay will return to San Francisco on Oct. 30 when the Bucs plays their next regular season contest vs. the 49ers. One would think that Rattay could help his new team plan for San Francisco, but he suggested Tampa Bay’s defense, which currently ranks No. 1 overall in the NFL, doesn’t need to pick his brain.
“I’m sure they’ll ask some stuff, but the defense here obviously does a really good job,” said Rattay. “I don’t think they’ll need my help.”
Rattay will use the bye week to study Tampa Bay’s playbook, some of which is familiar to him from his playing days under former San Francisco head coach Steve Mariucci, who runs a West Coast offense that is similar to that of Gruden’s.
“Just listening to some of the stuff out there, there are some similarities to what I went through with Coach Mariucci in 2000,” said Rattay. “There’s some similarities, but there’s a lot of new terminology. Plays are a lot similar, it’s just a matter of learning how to say them and call them in the huddle.”
He will initially begin his tenure in Tampa Bay as the No. 3 quarterback, but Rattay has to prepare and develop into a quarterback that is capable of starting.
“We didn’t bring him in here to hold a clipboard forever,” Gruden said of Rattay. “We try not to draft players or sign players who we don’t think can eventually play for us. Last year we played three different quarterbacks, started three different guys. In 2002 we started three different quarterbacks. There’s a chance, based on recent history, that we’re going to start three this year. Hopefully we don’t. We expect Chris Simms to play well. But we do feel like we need to get as many guys ready to play as possible and that’s what we’re going to do.”
Rattay, 28, is in his sixth year in the NFL. He’s completed 60.8 percent of his passes for 3,941 yards and tossed 24 touchdowns and 18 interceptions in 32 career games, including 16 starts.
The Bucs like Rattay’s credentials and potential, which is why they traded for him. The team’s plan is to help Rattay develop while Simms takes over as Tampa Bay’s starting quarterback.
“He’s just a solid football player,” Gruden said. “He’s a guy with experience, he’s a touch passer, he’s got more mobility than people think. If you watched him in the first half of the Dallas game you’d think the guy’s really a heck of a player. Today’s really a sad day in a lot of ways because we do have closure on Griese’s situation. We’re very excited for Chris Simms. He had a good workout today and we’re going to rally around him the best we can.”
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