As expected, Tampa Bay second-year quarterback Chris Simms took the first-team reps during Wednesday’s practice at One Buccaneer Place. However, that doesn’t mean quarterback Brian Griese, who is listed as questionable with a foot injury, won’t start Sunday against the Arizona Cardinals.
“He’s missed several Wednesday practices,” said Bucs head coach Jon Gruden. “A lot of quarterbacks still have lingering effects from games, at least the ones I’ve been around. But if he’s healthy, hopefully he’ll be ready to go on Sunday. If not, I get a strong feeling that there are some people who want Lefty to go. If that’s the case, that’s the case.”
Simms made his first pro start in Week 5 against the New Orleans Saints after quarterback Brad Johnson was benched due to poor play and the team’s sputtering offense. But Simms suffered a left shoulder bruise in the first quarter of that contest, and that injury sidelined him for several weeks, which gave Griese the opportunity to start.
Gruden said Simms will have to earn the opportunity to start Sunday, just as he did through the first quarter of the 2004 regular season.
“He’s not going to get any charity appearances because this game is the final game or it doesn’t matter,” Gruden said of Simms. “We’re going to continue to try to get Brian Griese ready to be great, and when Chris Simms earns the opportunity he’ll play, whether it be because of injury or performance. We’re working with Chris very hard. A lot of people don’t see that. I’m encouraged by his progress and I consider him a threat next year to win the job.”
Simms would like to get the opportunity to start, especially since it would only be the second of his pro career.
“It would be great for me, just to get out there again and get that experience,” said Simms. “I really haven’t played a full game yet, maybe two quarters or three quarters if you add it all up. Like I said, it’s whatever Coach decides. I’ll be ready.”
Should he not get the opportunity to start Sunday, Simms said it’s something he’s already prepared himself for.
“It won’t be hard,” Simms said when asked if he’d be disappointed if he didn’t start. “I’ve had other weeks this year where I’ve prepared to be the starter because Brian was banged up. I’ll be ready, like I said, and you never know. You’re always one play away, so you’ve got to be ready. I’m an example of that.”
Griese didn’t practice Wednesday and said he wasn’t sure if his foot would be healthy enough for him to play in the regular season finale against the Cardinals.
“I’m feeling better,” Griese said. “I still have a ways to go. The biggest thing is my foot. I sprained the ligaments in the bottom of my foot and it’s hard for me to plant right now. But the rest of my body feels pretty good.
“I don’t know. I really don’t know. Each day it keeps getting better; hopefully, it will continue to do that. But I’ve never had this injury and I don’t really know how fast it’s going to come back.”
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