Buccaneers quarterback Chris Simms discussed his return to the team after Saturday morning's practice, which was the first of the team's 2008 training camp.
Simms missed all of 2007 and 13 games of 2006 with a ruptured spleen injury. In the offseason Simms avoided the Bucs practices because he believed his future was not with Tampa Bay. Simms described his relationship with Bucs head coach Jon Gruden as "broken." Despite the negative tones of the offseason, Simms was happy to be back with the Buccaneers. Both he and Gruden spoke about the reunion after Saturday morning's practice.
"It was great to be back," said Simms. "Everything I've been through with my body. I was as nervous as I've ever been. It was like my first day of training camp as a rookie. I think I missed some throws because of nerves, but I felt good and it is good to be back out here again."
Gruden suggested Simms had some rust to shake off.
"He's been inactive a long time and we have a long way to go to get him some snaps," Gruden said. "We'll do the best we can."
After practice, Simms told the media that he and Gruden have spoken.
"Yeah, we talked last night, we had meetings last night," said Simms. "It is business out here and it is about playing and getting yourself better and I think everybody is on the same page for that.
"Hey, I'm not going to lie, it was a little uncomfortable, but after we got over that initial seeing each other and talking we both realized we are here to get better and we'll see where the future takes us. He said, 'Nice to see you, it is good to have you back, nice hair cut,' and he told us he broke 80 in a golf game and he was excited about that, and that was the initial conversation. The first day is always awkward. Training camp is rough. It is a three-week grind and you're away from your family. There wasn't a whole lot of awkwardness. We all are professionals. It was good to see my teammates and some of the coaches again and get back in the swing."
Gruden echoed much of what Simms said.
"We talked, but not extensively," said Gruden. "We didn't exchange Hallmark cards or anything like that. We're trying to win football games here. One quarterback can play. I'm interested in talking about anything, but I can't keep commenting on what he said and what I think. I respect Chris a lot. We've had a lot of good moments together. I'll just leave it at that."
After missing a lot of football over the past two seasons, Simms indicated that he is completely healthy and ready to play fully in practice. Simms was adamant that he was ready for game action.
"Oh definitely without a doubt," said Simms. "Today was big hurdle for me to get that first practice and get used to people being around me when I'm throwing. I missed a few throws but I made a few throws too. It was good to get over the nerves of the first day, and get one under my belt.
"I think rehab and time together made the biggest difference. Compared to last year it is not even comparable to this year as far as how I feel. I missed some throws but they were not because of an injury. I missed throws because I haven't thrown to Warrick Dunn, or other guys that are going full speed."
In the offseason, Simms asked for the Buccaneers to release or trade him to another team. In making the case for his release Simms boycotted participating in the team's organized team activities and mini-camp practices.
"I made it known on how I've felt with the whole situation," Simms said. "At this point I'm just going to continue to work and get better and let all that stuff take care of itself. I have no control over the situation. I realize that. The Bucs will do what is best for them and I understand that. I totally understand the business side of the game. I'm just going to knock off some rust day by day and continue to get better."
"No the only thing you regret [about missing the offseason workouts] is not having the chance to throw to moving NFL receivers and have the Cato June and Derrick Brooks out there trying to pick off passes, so that takes some time and reps."
Simms also addressed the rumors of quarterback Brett Favre being traded to the Buccaneers. Simms was quoted earlier in the week saying that Bucs general manager Bruce Allen asked about Favre's ability to learn Gruden's offense with the regular season only six weeks away.
"That's what I meant by the quote that was written about me the other day with Brett Favre, I didn't know that was going to be in the media. Nonetheless, that is what I meant by there would be some compromising I'm sure. There is a lot to this offense. Brett Favre would know the basic terminology, but Coach Gruden puts his own twist on it. I'm sure if it did happen they would have to work together and find some middle ground.
"I don't think it has been a distraction. This is the NFL and there are guys moving around on a weekly basis. All you can do is handle your part and let the rest take care of itself. I don't think it is a distraction.
"It is Brett Favre, he is a living legend. At the same time I'm not going to disrespect Jeff Garcia. He had an unbelievable year, is a great quarterback, and is a leader on this team. We have a lot of quarterbacks and you know how it is here we are always looking for quarterbacks and that is the way it is. If Brett comes in we'll be packed in there like I don't know what. It is a small room already and there are five of us quarterbacks with Coach Olson and Coach Gruden. I might be sitting on the screen."
Simms was excited to be around his teammates and stayed after practice to take extra reps with some of them. Prior to camp, Simms spoke with Allen about coming back to the team.
"I was going to come no matter what," said Simms. "I'm not stupid, that is a lot of money to lose on a daily basis and I was coming for even my own personal reasons. I had to come to get back into the groove and get my rhythm and timing back.
In response to Simms' negative comments about Gruden, Allen said that he believed Simms advisors had put him up to a publicity stunt. Simms responded to whether he agreed with that characterization.
"No, I was between a rock and a hard place," said Simms. "I had to have my side be known. I let him know why I wasn't there in the offseason."
While Simms was not able to play last year for the Buccaneers, Simms was a good teammate by offering words of encouragement. Simms did that for friend and fellow quarterback Luke McCown when he replaced an injured Jeff Garcia.
"We are well coached, Coach Gruden gets you prepared," said Simms. "They didn't need to hear anything from me, more just encouraging comments. They can handle it and there is nothing I could really tell him to handle that first start."
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