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Run over for two longtime Bucs

TAMPA — This is how it ends after spending all five seasons in the NFL with the Buccaneers.

On a rainy Saturday night, Chris Simms made a final drive to the team's training facility, turned in his playbook and had a brief meeting with general manager Bruce Allen.

But before he could leave the building, there were hugs and well wishes from assistant coaches, equipment managers and trainers.

Then an unexpected flood of emotion came over Simms. Across the street to the north was the hospital where he had an emergency splenectomy that saved his life and altered his career.

A block to the west was Raymond James Stadium, where he was cheered for leading the Bucs to a 5-1 record against NFC South opponents, a division title and a wild-card playoff berth.

At 28, Simms is at a crossroads in his career, too. But he knows the Cowboys, Packers, Bears, Ravens or some other team will give him a chance.

"There should be plenty of good spots," Simms said Saturday night. "It's exciting from the aspect to see what life will bring me. At the same time, it's a good thing but a sad moment, too. Lot of other assistant coaches and personnel people there, it was sad. I got a little choked up, saying goodbye to all the equipment managers. I made a lot of great friends."

And Ryan Nece has never worn another NFL uniform. But unable to keep his job with younger, faster players ahead of him on the depth chart, Nece reached the end of the road with the Bucs. He was one of the few players remaining from the Super Bowl team, an undrafted rookie who started for three of his seven years.

Regardless of any declining skill or injuries that affected their performance, Simms and Nece are two of the most popular players in the Bucs locker room and in the community.

But few careers in the NFL end with having a number retired or a big farewell party. Most of the time, it's just a few handshakes and a walk in the rain to the parking lot.

"And I think about the players I've played with," Nece said. "I've had a chance to play with Hall of Famers. You wish it didn't happen like this, but that's part of the game you have to understand."

Breaking it down: Let's take a closer look at how the Bucs' 53-man roster breaks down. Keep in mind, it's likely to change in the next few days.

• The strength of the team is the secondary, as reflected by keeping nine defensive backs, including undrafted rookie Elbert Mack. The Bucs kept seven linebackers, including sixth-round pick and former FSU standout Geno Hayes and Jets free agent Matt McCoy.

• All but two of the Bucs' seven draft picks made the club: Dre Moore, a fourth-round pick from Maryland, was released, and running back Cory Boyd, a seventh-round pick from South Carolina, was placed on injured reserve.

• They are light on the offensive line. They kept eight offensive linemen, but guard Davin Joseph could miss a month with a broken foot. Look for them to acquire a veteran offensive tackle in the next week.

• Tampa Bay has seven receivers, which will make for some interesting decisions about which players to use Sunday. The list includes newcomers Antonio Bryant and Dexter Jackson, a rookie kick returner.

• The team has more quarterbacks (four) than tailbacks (three).

Run over for two longtime Bucs 08/30/08 [Last modified: Tuesday, September 2, 2008 3:01pm]
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