The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have played four straight regular season games with two active quarterbacks on game days, but it looks as though the Bucs could have three signal callers for their upcoming game against the New Orleans Saints.
Quarterback Chris Simms has been out since suffering a ruptured spleen that required emergency surgery on Sept. 24.
Bucs QB Luke McCown was sidelined for all of training camp and preseason, and spent the first six weeks of the season on the physically unable to perform list after suffering a partially torn ACL during a June organized team activity.
McCown returned to the practice field on Oct. 18, which started the clock on a three-week timetable that the league permits teams to evaluate the status of players coming off of the PUP list before requiring them to either place the player on the active roster or injured reserve.
While they have until Monday, Nov. 6 to make that decision, Bucs head coach Jon Gruden suggested Monday that the team could activate McCown sometime this week.
“That situation will probably resolve itself this week,” Gruden said of McCown. “We like the fact that Luke has come back as quickly as he has from the injury. He’s taken some snaps on the practice field. We’ll make that determination here in the next 4-5 days. But we are gaining confidence in his return.”
Unfortunately, McCown's return probably will come at the expense of Simms, who is recovering from the Splenectomy and is expected to be placed on injured reserve when McCown is activated.
“That will be an ongoing process,” Gruden said when asked about Simms. “If McCown comes up and takes someone’s spot, does he take Chris’ spot? That will depend on what we hear from our trainers in regards to the progress Chris has made. Without speculating, we’ll gauge it based on what we hear from our medical people here this week.”
When asked if he thought he’d be made active this week, McCown sounded confident he would be.
“Yeah, I think so,” said McCown. We still have seven days to go as far as this grace period is concerned. We’ll see if they want to take all of it or activate me this week. They haven’t let me in on anything, so we’ll see.”
McCown, 25, has been taking his reps with the scout team since his return to the practice field on Oct. 18. That’s allowed him to ease his way back into action and test his surgically repaired knee, which is doing quite well.
“Each day [my knee] feels better,” said McCown. “There’s never a day that goes by where it doesn’t feel better. It’s really been a blessing that I can keep the progress going as far as the strength in the knee and everything like that.”
The 6-foot-3, 212-pound McCown joined the Bucs during the 2005 offseason when the team traded a sixth-round draft pick to the Cleveland Browns in exchange for his services.
Although Tampa Bay’s offense has struggled lately, failing to score a touchdown in two straight games and in four contests this season, McCown isn’t expecting to take away rookie quarterback Bruce Gradkowski’s starting job or the backup QB role, which is currently held by Tim Rattay, or at least not right away.
“I’m still with the scout team, and I presume that’s the way it will be for a while anyways,” said McCown. “As long as Bruce keeps playing well, and he’s not turning the ball over, so that’s a positive for us. I don’t see why they’d make any sort of drastic change.”