NASHVILLE — Chris Simms trotted onto the field for the final series of the Titans' final regular-season game, a 23-0 loss at Indianapolis three days after Christmas. The numbers show he completed 1 of 2 passes for 7 yards and was sacked once for a 10-yard loss.
But for Simms, just returning to the field was a victory.
"It is a different role," Simms said. "But it's maybe the most fun I've ever had not playing in my whole football life."
Until a few weeks ago, Simms had not played in a game that counted since rupturing his spleen as a Buc playing against the Panthers during the third game of the 2006 season.
"Maybe I have a little bit different perspective," Simms said. "I wasn't sure if I'd ever be able to play again. I'm happy to be out here and just to be part of a team."
Simms, 28, never made it back with the Bucs. He was placed on injured reserve for the remainder of 2006, deactivated for the first five games of 2007 and went on injured reserve again. Simms asked the Bucs to release him last offseason, but the team waited until Aug. 31.
He is the Titans' No. 3 quarterback, behind Kerry Collins and Vince Young. Young's knee sprain sustained the first week of the season prompted the Titans to sign Simms for insurance.
The Titans had always liked Simms' size (6-4, 220 pounds), arm strength and pedigree (he's the son of former NFL quarterback Phil Simms). But they wanted to help Simms regain his form. So strength coach Steve Watterson and trainer Geoff Kaplan went to work on improving Simms' core strength, especially his abdomen.
"I felt I had no control of arm and body at times," Simms said. "I had lost the core stability in supporting my spine and stomach muscles to control my body and let my arm come through.
"What they've done to further my rehab has been phenomenal. It's taken me a long way. I'm getting reps in practice, and with the work I'm doing after practice, I'm extremely close to being the old Chris Simms where I can bomb it in the air."
Simms signed a one-year contract, but coach Jeff Fisher said he would like to have him back next season. Meanwhile, Simms is enjoying the ride with the Titans, who could wind up playing in Super Bowl XLIII in Tampa.
"I want to see them succeed," Simms said, "and see Kerry Collins do what he's doing and have a chance to go back to Tampa where he lost a Super Bowl (while with the Giants in 2001)."