QB Chris Simms finished up the week of practice before learning he had been selected as the NFL Air Player of the Week
Friday Notes: Chris Simms' was the fans' national choice for NFL Air Player of the Week, leading to a $5,000 donation to a Bay area children's hospital…Plus injury updates and more
When he hit Joey Galloway with a perfect, 50-yard bomb in the end zone against Carolina on November 6, Chris Simms felt as if he had notched his first "real" NFL touchdown.
Simms had actually thrown a pair of long touchdowns in previous games, a 78-yarder to Michael Clayton in last year's season finale and an 80-yarder to Galloway at San Francisco the week before the Carolina game. In both of those cases, though, the receiver took a short pass and did most of the work after the catch. The Carolina touchdown helped Simms feel as if he had arrived.
Now he has another welcome-to-the-NFL moment: His first weekly award.
Simms has been named the Air NFL Player of the Week for Week 10, thanks to favorable fan voting. The Buccaneer quarterback was nominated for this week's award along with Indianapolis' Peyton Manning and Detroit's Joey Harrington, and fans chose the winner through balloting on NFL.com.
Simms, who completed 15 of 29 passes for 279 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions in Tampa Bay's thrilling 36-35 win over Washington, barely edged Manning in the voting. Simms received 38% of the votes while the Colts' Pro Bowl passer got 36%. Harrington was a distant third.
Fans choose Air and Ground NFL Players of the Week each week during the season. This is the first time a Buccaneer has won either award in 2005.
Simms' award is also a victory for the Bay area community. In recognition of his selection, a Bay area children's hospital received a check for $5,000. At the end of the year, a full-season winner will also be chosen in each category and the children's hospitals in the winners' communities will be given $25,000 each.
Wait 'Til Sunday
The Buccaneers have three players listed as questionable on their official injury report for the Atlanta game, and all three will await game day decisions on whether or not they can play.
Wide receiver Michael Clayton, safety Dexter Jackson and defensive end Greg Spires – all starters – share an injury status that is too close to call.
Clayton sat out last weekend's game with a deep knee bruise but has practiced this week and certainly has better mobility than he did seven days ago. Still, as Head Coach Jon Gruden pointed out on Thursday, the question isn't just if the receiver can play but how well he can play. The final determination on that has not been made and two more days of rest could play a part.
"We'll have to make that decision the day of the game," said Gruden. "He practiced and he's moving around better. We'll decide in the next 48 hours."
Jackson and Spires are in similar situations. Jackson has missed about a month with his hamstring injury but was finally able to practice this week. Spires, on the other hand, just suffered his shoulder injury against Washington on Sunday and was limited to light work on the practice field this week. Like Clayton, those two defensive starters were too close to call on Friday.
"We'll just let them sleep on it, get all the information and make the decisions when all the information's in," said Gruden. Guys did participate and are getting better, but that's about all I can say until I talk to [Head Trainer] Todd [Toriscelli] after these guys sleep on it."
Nece Gets Man of Year Nomination
Thirty-two players are vying for the 2005 title of Walter Payton Man Of The Year, the only league award that recognizes player off-the-field community service as well as playing excellence. This year's finalists – one player from each NFL team – have demonstrated an outstanding balance in their lives between civic and professional responsibilities.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have nominated LB Ryan Nece for the Man of the Year award. Nece is one of the most altruistic Buccaneers, as he sponsors several programs, participates in numerous charitable activities and takes a very hands-on approach to his work in the community.
The prestigious award was renamed in 1999 for the legendary Chicago Bears Pro Football Hall of Fame running back. The Walter Payton Man of the Year Award has been given annually since 1970. This year's winner will be announced during NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue's annual news conference prior to Super Bowl XL in Detroit. The winner will receive $25,000 to donate to his selected charity. Each finalist will receive a $1,000 contribution towards a charity of his choice.
Nece starts on the same linebacker crew as a former Man of the Year winner, as Derrick Brooks was the co-winner in 2000.