With Chris Simms on the mend but likely headed for injured reserve after undergoing emergency surgery Sunday to remove a ruptured spleen he suffered during Tampa Bay’s 26-24 loss to Carolina, the Buccaneers spent Tuesday working out several quarterbacks.

The Bucs named rookie Bruce Gradkowski the starting quarterback and promoted Tim Rattay to the backup role on Monday. They are searching for a third-string signal caller that can fill the void left at the quarterback position until Luke McCown, who is recovering from a partially torn ACL he suffered in June, is eligible to return from the physically unable to perform list after the Bucs’ sixth game of the season.

Among the players Tampa Bay is considering signing is former Bucs quarterback and St. Petersburg native Shaun King, who visited One Buc Place on Tuesday.

The 6-foot-1, 228-pound King originally entered the NFL in 1999 as a second-round pick out of Tulane. He spent five seasons (1999-03) with the Bucs, starting 22 games, including five in ’99 and all 16 in 2000.

King, 29, has completed 56.2 percent of his passes for 4,566 yards and tossed 27 touchdowns and 24 interceptions during his pro career. In ’04, King left Tampa Bay and signed with Arizona via free agency. He has had short stints with the Detroit Lions and Indianapolis Colts in ’06.

The Bucs also worked out QB Tommy Maddox and QB Kliff Kingsbury on Tuesday, according to both Tampa Bay area newspapers.

Maddox, 35, has completed 57.2 percent of his passes and has thrown for 8,087 yards, 48 touchdowns and 54 interceptions during his pro career. Maddox (6-4, 219) entered the league in 1992 and played with Denver, St. Louis, the New York Giants before leaving the league in 1996. He returned to the pros in 2001 with Pittsburgh, where he played five seasons. Maddox lost his starting job in 2004 when QB Ben Roethlisberger replaced him.

Kingsbury 6-3, 220) entered the league in 2003 as a sixth-round pick with the New England Patriots. He has completed 1-of-2 passes for 17 yards during his short career. He has had short stints with the New York Jets and Buffalo Bills, who released him in August.

Former Dallas Cowboys QB Drew Henson was also mentioned in the newspaper reports, but sources told Pewter Report that the Bucs have not scheduled a visit with him nor have they expressed interest in him as of Tuesday afternoon.  

During the first week of the regular season, Tampa Bay brought in former New Orleans QB Todd Bouman and former Carolina Panthers QB Stefan LeFors for workouts, but neither player was signed.

On Monday, Tampa Bay head coach Jon Gruden said the team would search for a third-string quarterback in free agency, but he also mentioned the possibility of a trade.

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