The Tampa Bay Buccaneers held their first two mandatory mini-camp practice at One Buccaneer Place on Tuesday.
The Bucs had close to 100 percent attendance. The only player that did not report for duty at One Buccaneer Place was quarterback Chris Simms.
Simms' absence might not come as much of a surprise after he made critical comments to the media regarding head coach Jon Gruden and the Bucs' decision to hold onto him as opposed to releasing trading him, just as they did with QB Bruce Gradkowski earlier in the offseason.
According to Bucs general manager Bruce Allen, Simms' absence was not excused.
“Those questions are really for Chris Simms,” said Allen. “Chris obviously made a decision not to come and he’s the only one that can speak to that.”
Last week, Simms said he did not want to play for Gruden anymore due to the way Gruden treated him after his spleen injury, which has caused Simms to spend the majority of the past two seasons on injured reserve. Simms went as far as describing his relationship with Gruden as "totally broken."
Gruden did not have much to say regarding Simms on Tuesday.
"I don't know where Chris is," said Gruden. "I like him a lot and wish him the best in his situation, but I'm going to coach the guys that are here. I'll let you guys handle that story. I don't have much knowledge other than he said what he said, and I don't agree with everything he said. I can only comment on the guys that are here working. His situation will resolve itself."
A 2003 third-round draft pick, Simms has played in 19 games for the Bucs, completing 59.1 percent of his passes for 3,087 yards an tossing 12 touchdowns and 17 interceptions.
Before his injury, Simms threw one touchdown and nine interceptions in his final four starts. The Bucs went 0-4 during that stretch.
Despite his spleen injury and poor play, Simms was offered a two-year contract extension with the Bucs, and he accepted it before the 2006 regular season ended. That deal included a base salary of $2 million per year as well as a $3 million signing bonus.
But with Simms' future unknown due to the injury, the Bucs, who were coming off a 4-12 season during the 2007 offseason, signed QB Jeff Garcia and traded for QB Jake Plummer. This offseason, the team added more signal callers to the mix, trading for Brian Griese and drafting Josh Johnson.
Tampa Bay's stable of quarterbacks and Gruden's supposed mistreatment of Simms prompted the 27-year-old quarterback to ask for his release or a trade, neither of which have been granted.
The Bucs are scheduled to report to training camp on July 25, but it is unlikely that he will still be on the team's roster at that time since the team must trim its roster down to 80 players before the start of camp.
"You can write his autobiography yourself if you want. I don't have anything else to say," said Gruden, who grew tired of answering questions regarding Simms on Tuesday. "It's not personal for me. I like the guy a lot. I spent a lot of time with him and I wish him well."
If they deem him a holdout, the Bucs could fine Simms and even file a grievance against him in an effort to recover as much as half of his signing bonus, which would be $1.5 million.
Allen, who spoke with Simms on Monday and deemed the conversation a "good" one, would not comment on what the Bucs planned to do to Simms as a result of him skipping mandatory practices.
“We’ve never really discussed what we do with players, whether we do or we don’t [fine them], and we won’t start now,” said Allen.
The Bucs just settled their grievance against another quarterback – Jake Plummer – who remained retired after the Bucs traded for his rights during the 2007 offseason. Tampa Bay settled the grievance for $3.5 million earlier this month.
In related news, Bucs running back Earnest Graham, who had skipped all of Tampa Bay's voluntary organized team activities this offseason, participated in the team's mandatory mini-camp practices on Tuesday.
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