The Tampa Bay Buccaneers not only lost their third-straight game, falling 26-24 at home to the visiting Carolina Panthers, but added injury to insult when quarterback Chris Simms was seriously hurt in the loss.

Simms was hospitalized at St. Joseph's Hospital in Tampa after the game with a ruptured spleen, which was removed in surgery, according to team physican, Dr. Joe Diaco:
"Chris Simms suffered an injury to his spleen during today's game and was taken to the hospital. He underwent a splenectomy (removal of the spleen) this evening and is in stable condition. Chris is doing well and we anticipate a full recovery."
A Bucs team spokesperson would not confirm or deny early newspaper reports that Simms was iin critical condition. Bucs general manager Bruce Allen vehemently told NBC Sports that Simms was not listed in critical condition. Pewter Report's attempts to reach Allen Sunday night were not successful.
 
According to WebMD.com, the spleen is "an organ in the upper left side of the abdomen that filters the blood by removing old or damaged blood cells and platelets and helps the immune system by destroying bacteria and other foreign substances. It also holds extra blood that can be released into the circulatory system, if needed. The spleen is a useful but nonessential organ. It is sometimes removed (splenectomy) in people who have blood disorders, such as thalassemia or hemolytic anemia. If the spleen is removed, a person must get certain immunizations to help prevent infections that the spleen normally fights.”

According to the website of The Michael E. DeBakey Department of Surgery in Houston, Texas, spenectomy patients will typically be hospitalized from “4-5 days” and advises “no heavy lifting or straining for six to eight weeks after open surgery.”  

That kind of timetable could sideline Simms for the remainder of the season and assuredly ushers in the Bruce Gradkowski era in Tampa Bay. Gradkowski, a sixth-round pick out of Toledo in last April's NFL Draft, is expected to start against New Orleans on October 8 after the Bucs' bye week. 
Simms' injury could have occurred during his 2-yard touchdown run in the second half or during a play in which Panthers defensive end Al Wallace slammed him to the ground later in the half.

Simms left the game under his own power with 24 seconds left in the third quarter, but went straight to the locker room with the assistance of team trainers and team physician, Dr. Joe Diaco.

After rookie Bruce Gradkowski finished off the drive, Simms returned to finish the game early in the fourth quarter. But after the game, Simms was not made available to the media. The Buccaneers would not comment on speculation that Simms had been taken to the hospital immediately after the game to treat either dehydration or a rib injury, only saying that he was in with team doctors and trainers.

However, Simms’ street clothes were missing from his locker, and one source told Pewter Report that Simms was no longer at the stadium.

Tampa Bay head coach Jon Gruden did not comment on Simms’ injury in his post-game press conference, except for saying:

“He got hit early and he hurt his ribs. We don’t know the extent of that, but he played hard today and he played tough. He showed a lot of grit. He really did. It’s a credit to him. He made some big plays when we needed them. We tried a lot of things today from flea flickers to going for it on fourth down and responded to a lot of different scenarios. He’s hurting right now, there’s no question. He left the game. I don’t know that it was because of his ribs or dehydration or both. He’s a very sore, tired man right now. I’m just proud of the way that he hung in there against a very good defensive team.”

Simms finished the game completing 13-of-24 passes for 139 yards and tossed one touchdown and one interception en route to Tampa Bay’s 26-24 loss to Carolina.

Scott Reynolds is in his 25th year of covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as the vice president, publisher and senior Bucs beat writer for PewterReport.com. Author of the popular SR's Fab 5 column on Fridays, Reynolds oversees web development and forges marketing partnerships for PewterReport.com in addition to his editorial duties. A graduate of Kansas State University in 1995, Reynolds spent six years giving back to the community as the defensive line coach for his sons' Pop Warner team, the South Pasco Predators. Reynolds can be reached at: sr@pewterreport.com
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