Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Just a Little Rusty

Tuesday Camp Notes: Though he does have a sore arm, QB Chris Simms expects to be back in action soon…Bucs sign DL Tim Jones…Gruden, Garcia remember Bill Walsh

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QB Chris Simms hopes to be throwing in practice again within a day or two

Yes, Chris Simms has soreness in his left (throwing) arm. No, it's not a big deal.

That was the quarterback's own assessment of his health on Tuesday, one day after rumors surfaced that he was experiencing significant health problems possibly still related to his spleen injury of last year. Simms has participated in practice the last two days but has essentially not thrown any passes thanks to an arm that is "sore, but not crazy sore." A better word for his current state: "Rusty."

Essentially, Simms wanted to make it clear that he has no issues he believes he will be unable to overcome with some more hard work.

"Don't make a big deal out of it because it's not a big deal," he said. "It's nothing that I feel like is going to hurt my career or hurt me in camp. I mean, I'm okay. It's going to be fine."

Simms said he does not believe he has nerve damage as a result of his splenectomy in 2006 and he does not expect to go on injured reserve.

"I don't think it's anything like that," he said. "I think more or less, I'm not quite where I need to be, and I've told [the media] that. Right now, I'm just trying to work and get back to the point where I was last year before the injury, and I'm just not there yet."

"I don't quite feel like myself. I don't quite know how to say it. The only thing I can say is that I'm going to continue to work, and I'm not quite where I need to be. I'm just going to continue to do that until I feel like I'm ready to go and 100 percent."

Simms could be throwing again as soon as Wednesday.

He has a sore elbow, and we hope to have him on the field throwing tomorrow," said Gruden. "That's all I can say. Chris Simms is cleared to play, and we're going to try him on the field again tomorrow."

Neither Simms nor Gruden were thrilled to be putting so much attention on a specific ailment during a camp that has been mostly productive and injury-free.

"You're going to get guys at that position that do have soreness in their elbow," said Gruden. "I went through that every year with Brad Johnson and [Brian] Griese. Unfortunately, it's happened early in camp. Chris will be back hopefully in a limited fashion tomorrow, and he'll be a more focal part of the practices once his elbow returns to full health."

Indeed, Gruden also indicated that starting quarterback Jeff Garcia, who has looked sharp in practices thus far, experienced a twinge in his hamstring on Tuesday. Gruden said he was a bit concerned about that development but otherwise was thrilled with Garcia's camp efforts.

That's an issue on which Gruden would much prefer to focus.

"We've got a lot of good things happening here," he said. "If you've watched practice, you've seen Garcia really do a hell of a job."

Reserve quarterback Luke McCown has drawn more snaps with Simms taking it easy, and he has also impressed Gruden in recent days.

"I'm pleased with Luke," said the coach. "There's another really good story here at the quarterback position. He missed last season with a serious knee injury, and he's getting about 40 percent of the work right now. He's taking advantage of his opportunities, and I'm pleased with what he's doing. I really am pleased. He's athletic. He's managing our football team. He's making a lot of plays."

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DE Jones Grabs Last Roster Spot

The Buccaneers finally filled the open 87th spot on their training camp roster Tuesday, signing first-year defensive lineman Tim Jones.

Jones is a University of South Florida product who first caught the Buccaneers' eye during the team's 2006 rookie mini-camp. Jones was in that camp on a tryout contract, and though the Bucs didn't find a spot for him that spring, they kept an eye on him over the following year and again this spring as he participated in the final NFL Europa season.

Jones was a starting tight end at USF until injuries to the Bulls' line in 2002 prompted the coaching staff to put him at defensive end. By his senior campaign, he was the starting left end, opening all 11 games and producing 48 tackles and 2.5 sacks.

The Buccaneers intend to try the 6-2, 282-pound Jones at defensive tackle first, similar to the switch it made with Jovan Haye last year. A team scout describes Jones as quick and versatile, a good athlete with the necessary power to play inside in the Bucs' system.

The Bucs had held that 87th spot open for the first few days of camp, waiting to see if a specific roster need developed. The spot had been earned through NFL Europa participation and had to be used on a player who was in the NFLEL this spring.

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Remembering a Football Great

As a former assistant under Mike Holmgren in San Francisco and Green Bay, Gruden can proudly claim to be a member of the Bill Walsh coaching tree. On Monday, Walsh, one of the most influential figures in football history, passed away at the age of 75 after a battle with leukemia.

Gruden, who invited Walsh to speak to his team in Tampa two seasons ago, learned a lot from the coach who as often simply referred to as "The Genius."

"You better work at this business, and you better try to surround yourself with great people," said Gruden of Walsh's legacy. "You better work, and when you get tired you better work some more because the other guys are working. And don't ever look past the player. You give everybody an opportunity to develop. He would coach anyone. At any time, he would coach anyone. And I gave him a lot of credit for that.

"He meant a lot to me; not only me but a lot of people in this business and in this world. It was a tremendous loss for me personally and I know for a lot of football people, and I just wish his family the very best. I can only tell you he'll be sorely missed by a lot of people."

Count Jeff Garcia among those people. The veteran quarterback, who shares an alma mater with Walsh (San Jose State), came to San Francisco in 1999 largely because Walsh, then in management, believed in him. Deeply saddened by Monday's news, Garcia released this note:

"The life of a champion has physically come to an end, but the legacy of the man will live on forever. So many times Coach Walsh used boxing analogies, and in his own life he was a fighter all the way to the end.

"There are so many people that are thankful that their lives have been touched by the man who is Bill Walsh. I am one of them. He believed in me when not many others did; he was willing to put his reputation on the line in order to give me an opportunity. I always respected and appreciated that and never did I want to fail him. Several times I went to him at moments of change in my career and asked for and leaned on his advice. Even at a time of struggle in his own life, he made time for me. He gave me advice like a father would give to his son and I know that I am not the only one he did that for.

"He touched people's lives, he made people smile. He had an element of surprise about him – you never knew what he was going to say but he had your attention. I love that man like so many others do and I will miss him.

"I thank you Bill for your guidance and belief in me, but more so than that, I thank you for your friendship. I love you and I thank you."

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