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Garcia appears to be Bucs' No. 2 quarterback

Jeff Garcia, being hit by the Saints’ Kendrick Clancy, has been the inactive third quarterback for the past three games.

BRIAN CASSELLA | Times

Jeff Garcia, being hit by the Saints’ Kendrick Clancy, has been the inactive third quarterback for the past three games.

TAMPA — Brian Griese has not been sacked in his past 97 passes, but that doesn't mean he should feel too comfortable in the pocket.

By all indications, the Bucs are planning to make Jeff Garcia the No. 2 quarterback for Sunday's game in Denver.

Garcia, 37, has been the inactive third quarterback since being benched after the season-opening loss at the Saints on Sept. 7.

But coach Jon Gruden has voiced his displeasure about Griese's six interceptions over his past two starts. Wednesday, Garcia took some reps with the No. 1 offense and, according to quarterbacks coach Greg Olson, had increased reps overall.

For the first time in three weeks, Luke McCown, not Garcia, remained after practice for extra work with Olson. That time is normally reserved for the No. 3 quarterback, who runs the scout team.

An announcement won't be made until one hour before kickoff Sunday.

"Jeff is coming along, and (Gruden) tries to give them all work. Some get more than others," Olson said. "Jeff got some (Wednesday), and Luke will get some, I'm sure (today).

"(Gruden) … likes to watch them and listen to them in the meeting room. We meet every day, and he meets with them every day. And he questions all of them. He's trying to see where Jeff is at right now and how he's coming along, and he's coming along good."

Wednesday, Griese said he isn't concerned about the perception that Gruden could have a quick hook if he turns the ball over. Griese has won eight of his past nine starts for the Bucs dating to 2005.

"I don't get into all that. I take it week by week," Griese said. "I think that's the only thing I can offer right now.

"We talked ad nauseam about the interceptions on Sunday. One of them was a bad read on a coverage. I wasn't expecting the guy to be there in that situation, and he made a great play. One was a telegraph. I got down in my check-down a little too early in my read. Those are things I plan on fixing."

Garcia, who threw only four interceptions last season and was named to the Pro Bowl, missed most of training camp and did not play in three preseason games because of a right calf injury. He also jammed the pinkie on his throwing hand and sprained his ankle against the Saints.

But Olson said Garcia's mobility has improved each week.

"He seems healthy now, and his legs look better," Olson said. "Even he said, 'I was watching myself in the preseason games and in the opener, and I thought, gosh, I look so slow.' So he started concentrating on the separation from the center."

The finger injury, which bothered Garcia when taking the snap, no longer is an issue.

"He was getting the snap, and something would hurt it about every third day," Olson said. "So he told me he moved his hand tighter and once he gets (the ball), he slides it out. He said, 'Now when I get it, it seems to have helped.' "

Garcia was unavailable for comment, but Olson said he has benefited from the rest.

"I think he's refreshed now," Olson said. "I think it was good for him to come back and watch Brian a little bit. Watch Brian operate and listen to Brian in the meetings rooms, and I think they've both learned a lot from one another. They've both had success in different places.

"Obviously, Brian had a ton of success in Denver when he came out and Jeff had a lot of early success in San Francisco. Both of them have managed to have the peaks and valleys, highs and lows, and they've learned a lot from each other."

Garcia appears to be Bucs' No. 2 quarterback 10/01/08 [Last modified: Saturday, October 4, 2008 9:51am]

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