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Rick Stroud, Greg Auman and Matt Baker

Gruden: Simms in good spirits



During a news conference at  Bucs headquaters this morning, coach Jon Gruden said injured quarterback Chris Simms is in good spirits following emergency surgery to remove his spleen.

The Bucs starting quarterback is potentially out for the season, Gruden said. Even if Simms can return, it may not be wise to bring him back very late in the season, Gruden added, calling Simms "extremely tough mentally and physically.

"He's gonna be okay," said Gruden, who visited Simms Monday morning. Simms is recuperating at St. Joseph's Hospital in Tampa.

When asked repeatedly to clarify what team physicians believed the extent of Simms' injuries to be during the game, Gruden said the quarterback was showing symptoms of fatigue and was treated accordingly when he went to the locker during the third quarter. But numerous players said Simms was clearly suffering, complaining to some of shortness of breath, and to others, pain in the ribcage area.

Gruden said team doctors checked the player thoroughly and believed the discomfort was the result of a hit Simms sustained in the ribs. Gruden said there were no indications Simms' spleen had ruptured.

"I was concerned about him throughout the whole game, as was our medical staff," Gruden said. "But he persisted on being able to play and he was confident he could perform and fight through it. After he went to the locker room and got checked out, it was a matter of 'Can you go? Can you play? Do you want to?' All indications were that he could play."

In any event, rookie Bruce Gradkowski becomes the starter when the Bucs return to the field Oct. 8 at New Orleans. Gradkowski performed well during the preseason, when he received the bulk of the work during exhibition games.

"That's one of the reasons we gave him extensive playing time in the preseason," Gruden said. "I thought he did some very good things. He'll get a lot of work this week and we'll see what happens. We have a great schedule ahead of ourselves, 13 games to go. This is going to be a tremendous challenge indeed. I believe he's a fine quarterback and he'll rise to the challenge."

The Bucs' personnel department will now turn their attention to locating a quarterback who would likely be the backup or the emergency No. 3. Gruden said that search had already begun, and he expected several candidates to be brought in for workouts this week, when the Bucs have a bye.

"We'll see who's available," Gruden said. "It could be via a trade. It could be a guy who's out there at this time. It could be someone on someone else's practice squad. There are a number of issues. We just have to see who's available."

[Last modified: Wednesday, May 26, 2010 2:43pm]


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