LAKE BUENA VISTA — Ryan Sims was fighting for more playing time during the first week of training camp. Now his battle might be to prove he can start.
Sims, the No. 6 overall pick in 2002, replaced Jovan Haye at under tackle Thursday. Haye suffered a groin pull, which defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin said appears "significant."
In nine games last season, Sims, acquired from the Chiefs in May 2007, had 11 solo tackles, five assists and one sack. Five stops came in the final regular-season game against Carolina, when the Bucs rested many starters.
"He played well for us last year," Kiffin said. "He did a nice job when he was in there. We expected all along to play him more this year because he's had a good camp. But Jovan Haye is a special guy now. We've got to move on and get somebody ready."
Sims, 28, has played both tackle positions in the Tampa 2 scheme. But in the offseason he was exclusively working at nose tackle behind starter Chris Hovan.
"Last year, I spent half the season learning the defense," the 6-foot-4, 315-pounder said. "I stepped in in the middle of the season, and now I feel pretty good. I have the opportunity right now to show everybody on the coaching staff that I can play the position.
"It felt pretty good to know they called on me. I just want to go in and try to make a play."
LUKE-FREE ZONE: There have been few Luke Petitgout sightings.
The 32-year-old left tackle started four games last season before a season-ending knee injury. He failed his physical and was placed on the physically unable to perform list. But unlike running back Cadillac Williams, on the list and very visible during practice, Petitgout is rehabbing away from the practice field.
Where has the 10-year veteran been spending his days?
"I really don't know sometimes," coach Jon Gruden said. "He's with the trainer. He's under the careful watch of the training staff . … I get an update at lunch, and I get an update in the evening. And every day I get a page of written documents of who did what.
"Anybody that's on PUP is concerning. We have to make some adjustments and move on at some time. But at the same time, I'm confident that (he and Williams) will play."