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Bucs QB Garcia says he's healthy to start

TAMPA — An ankle injury is not what will prevent quarterback Jeff Garcia from practicing or playing this week.

Only coach Jon Gruden is responsible for that.

Garcia, wearing no special support for a sprained ankle he sustained in Sunday's 24-20 loss to the Saints, said he disagreed with Gruden's decision to bench him for the Falcons game.

But Garcia acknowledged that he could have played better in the opener and vowed to correct his mistakes while getting his 38-year-old body healthy. Veteran Brian Griese will start Sunday.

"Right now, having only played one game, I would've liked the opportunity to battle through whatever I'm going through," Garcia said Thursday. "But Coach made that decision early in the week, and I have to live with it.

"I understand in the game on Sunday there were a couple plays I left out on the field. … I know I can … learn from whatever I didn't do."

Garcia was limited in practice Thursday. He said he hurt his back early in the offseason. He injured his right calf Aug. 31, which force him to miss most of training camp, and he has a jammed pinkie finger on his throwing hand. Now the ankle.

"I've played through a lot worse before, and that's not anything new," he said. "It's just one thing after another, and I know everybody will say, 'Hey, well, he's old, and he's running out of gas, and this is what happens to old guys.' … All I can do is focus on getting better and being supportive."

Emotionally, Garcia said, he has tried to move on from the offseason's disappointments, including the Bucs' failure to make up for a missed play-time incentive bonus and the team's attempts to trade for Brett Favre.

"I feel like I'm emotionally stable. I'm not a basket case," Garcia said. "I'm not somebody who's going to take away what this team's focus is. I don't know if Coach believes that things that have stockpiled … and that maybe I have allowed to stockpile, have taken away from the edge that I normally have on the field. If that's what he believes … I need to do my best to get that back and prove to him that it's there."

Bucs QB Garcia says he's healthy to start 09/11/08 [Last modified: Monday, September 15, 2008 2:36pm]
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