With the heat index reaching over 100 degrees the last two days in Orlando, Bucs head coach Jon Gruden gave his players the morning off from the sun by holding practice inside the Milk House. The Milk House is a gymnasium on the Disney Wide World of Sports complex that is normally home to AAU basketball games. However, the Bucs took advantage of the indoor facility on Wednesday.

There were 18 players that had to receive IV’s yesterday, either during or after practice, so Gruden gave the players a walk-through to give them some rest from the heat.

“Yeah we are going to practice outside later today,” Gruden said. “We’ve had two practices in the last two days and the heat index as been well over 100 [degrees] all four practices. I think it’s the right thing to do. We got a lot plays done, a lot of situations looked at, some good film to study so that was planned today. We figured we would let the players replenish some of their fluids.”

The Bucs participated in a two-hour walk-through and went over every situation that would occur during a game, whether it was on offense, defense or special teams. The special teams worked on defending a fake punt and quarterback Jeff Garcia even booted the football in a formation that was set up in the shotgun.

Gruden was very vocal during the two-hour practice and didn’t allow the players to loaf off or get complacent mentally. He applauded tight end Alex Smith for running his route correctly to clear out the short middle of the field. Gruden, however, scowled at rookie tight end Matt Herian for not knowing the play and getting into position before the ball was snapped.

Florida Gov. Charlie Christ, former Bucs linebacker Scot Brantley and former Bucs quarterback Steve DeBerg were in attendance during Wednesday morning’s practice. Christ showed up just before practice concluded and met with Gruden afterwards. Christ also talked with the players as they huddled after practice.

President George W. Bush visited the Bucs in 2006 and Tampa Bay won only four games, so Gruden was hoping to get some better luck with Christ’s visit.

“It was great having him,” Gruden said. “I told him we had President Bush here last year and we only won four games, so give me something, man. Give some good stuff, brother. But I’m a big fan of his because he’s got a tough job. That’s a tough job making sure the state of Florida and the United States is in order and I admire the people tremendously for what they do and it was great to meet him personally today and have him around the guys. I was excited to meet him, it was neat.”

Brantley is currently with 1470 AM WHBO in Tampa and was the color commentator for the Bucs for nearly a decade. Brantley played for the Bucs from 1980-87 as a linebacker and also worked for the Florida Gators as a color commentator. DeBerg played quarterback for the Bucs for six seasons from 1984-87 and then from 1992-93.

For the majority of this season’s training camp, quarterback Chris Simms’ health has been a major focal point. Most of the questions about his health have been aimed at Gruden. After a story that was on PewterReport.com stating that Simms would sit out the 2007 season if he had to in order to get healthy, Gruden had to answer questions about Simms’ health again.

“I’m tired of talking about him, every day you see him out here practicing, he’s healthy,” Gruden said. “Why the hell would he go on IR? I don’t understand why – he’s practicing. I’m not trying to mislead anyone, though I have to be honest at times and say we have cleared him to practice. If he was injured, he wouldn’t be practicing and throwing 125 balls a day. It’s the performance that needs to improve and I’m confident in time it will. He’s been inactive for a long period of time. That’s all I’m going to say. It’s a work in progress right now. He’s behind and he knows that, and we will adjust accordingly.”

Simms didn’t see any action in the Bucs’ 13-10 victory over the New England Patriots and probably will see limited, if any, action on Saturday against the Jacksonville Jaguars. Simms has struggled to find his form throwing the ball and hasn’t looked comfortable during this summer’s training camp.

Gruden didn’t hide the fact that Simms is behind in his progression from the injury, but realizes that the Bucs must move on and continue with the preseason with or without Simms in the mix at quarterback. When asked if Simms was in jeopardy of not making the team this year despite being the starter in 2006, Gruden said: “There are jeopardies for everyone – coaches and players, if the performance level isn’t good. I’m not going to stir headlines up here. He is a great kid and he’s played a lot football here. He had a serious injury and we are moving on with the preseason and when Chris is ready to go, you will see him. Hopefully a little bit in Jacksonville on Saturday night, but right now, as I said, it’s a work in progress. He’s clearly behind, but he could catch up.”

The success of a team during the preseason means about as much as NBA Summer League basketball games in Las Vegas – absolutely nothing. Preseason games can be viewed as glorified practices and are mainly used for evaluation of second and third-string players trying to make a team. For Bucs quarterback Jeff Garcia, the preseason is just time to work out the kinks and get comfortable with teammates.

“You know you can’t compare preseason to regular season,” Garcia said. “With the way I play and the way I feel in the regular season doesn’t even translate to the way I feel in the preseason and so it’s one of those things where yes I was excited for the first game at home. I wasn’t overly excited because I don’t think I even got close to where the excitement and energy that I will have in a regular season game. It’s one of those things where you learn more about your teammates, the more you get comfortable with the players around you, the more relaxed, the more comfortable you are with the system, the better the decisions are, the more accurate you are with the football. So those things are just a work in progress and they are all going to come in the next couple of weeks.”

Even though Garcia has been in a West Coast offensive system for most of his career, Gruden’s version of it has more terminology and much more formations and plays than what Garcia is used to. So Garcia is using the preseason to get comfortable with calling the plays and learning how his teammates react in a game-time situation. If he puts points on the board, that’s a plus, but Garcia is looking for more than scoring preseason touchdowns.

“It would be nice [to score touchdowns] but it’s not everything,” Garcia said. “It’s preseason, it’s a different sort of feeling a different vibe. We want to go out there we want to do positive things and eliminate mistakes and make good decisions and if those translate into scoring drives then that’s great, so be it. But it’s more about preparing for the first regular season game and that’s when it all comes down to being prepared and doing the right things. Hopefully we can work out the kinks in the preseason games.”

Defensive lineman Kevin Carter has been praised for his versatility on the defensive line being able to play both defensive tackle and defensive end. Gruden, however, wants to have Carter settle in to one of those positions and see what he can do. Carter has been taking reps at left defensive end for the majority of practice this week and will see a good amount of plays against Jacksonville on Saturday.

“Yeah I would [like to see him settle on one position], you know everyone has talked about versatility and flexibility and all that, we want to see him center in and play a period of plays in succession at the left end position and that’s what you will see Saturday night a little bit,” Gruden said. “We will adjust quickly, he won’t play all night, but here’s a guy that can play any position on the defensive line and I think play it well. But we are going to try to get him centered here a little bit and let him square away at the left end.”

Carter and defensive end Greg Spires are battling for the starting position on the left side and will continue that battle for the rest of training camp. There is competition on the entire defensive line and Gruden likes having that competition.

“There’s a lot of competition yes I believe there’s a lot of competition at left end, at right end, at nose guard,” Gruden said. “There’s just a lot of competition period.”

Gruden, when asked about getting players more playing time during the preseason:

“Some of these questions are tough on me, I don’t how to answer that other than there’s a lot of people that talk, and talk and talk and talk. It’s hard to be right all the time, and I don’t know where to go with that question. We are trying to do what we think is right for our football team and we can’t please everyone or whatever and we apologize.”

Because the Buccaneers held an indoor, walk-through practice on Wednesday morning, there was not a morning Inside Bucs’ Training Camp: Wednesday AM story.

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