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Simeon Rice's departure from Tampa Bay was, in part, the result of his unwillingness to take a pay cut to remain with the team.

But the defensive end said Friday that he might have been more willing to consider a reduction in pay if he had felt respected and appreciated by the Bucs.

"If I would have felt respected there, maybe it would have turned out different," Rice said by phone from Tampa, a day after his surprising release. "The organization already has money. I'm trying to get mine. All they were doing is adhering to the contract they gave me. I didn't do like a lot of players in this league who have outperformed their contract and demanded another one. But they let their most dominant defensive player go, so good luck."

Rice said he plans to take about three weeks to rehabilitate his left shoulder, which was operated on last season and caused him to fail a physical on Thursday. In the meantime, he said interested teams have already contacted his agent, and Rice plans to sit back and sort out his opportunities after he heals. Already the Titans and possibly the Giants, who are missing Michael Strahan from camp, are interested. The Titans are making arrangements to bring Rice to Nashville for a physical, according to general manager Mike Reinfeldt.

He wouldn't mind playing for a team in the NFC South largely because he would get two cracks at the Bucs. What's important to him is fair compensation and a team that is competitive.

"I don't want to go back to that losing (stuff)," Rice said. "I've had enough of that. I want to have a chance to go to the Super Bowl."

SIMMS SURGING: Chris Simms made his return to the lineup and said taking a temporary step back from football is helping him regain his form.

Simms looked sharp and threw the ball with velocity in Friday's two practices, particularly in throwing the deep ball, which is a strength of his.

"I'm definitely throwing it better now," said Simms, who had a limited role in the team's minicamp in June. "I think a lot of it is I just needed to let my body rest a little bit."

Simms went home to New Jersey and got away from football for most of the past month and appears to be making progress after missing 13 games last season after having his spleen removed.

"A month later, two months later. ... The further away from it he gets the better he'll be," quarterbacks coach Paul Hackett said.

Simms was adamant that his problems the past couple of months were related to technique, not physical problems. He said he has totally healed from his injury.

GOOD RIDDANCE: For Giants general manager Jerry Reese, there is no love lost for former New York left tackle Luke Petitgout. The tackle was released by the Giants in the offseason and signed a free-agent contract with the Bucs.

Asked about the position this week, Reese told the New York Post: "People act like Petitgout was the second coming. He never made the Pro Bowl, and I don't think he ever was a first alternate. Now all of a sudden he's the savior? That's ridiculous. I don't think we're that bad off without Luke Petitgout. He was not a star left tackle. He was a solid left tackle on some occasions and other times he wasn't. Luke has been a marginal player for a long time."

Petitgout didn't offer much of a response, saying only that he now had "something to put up in my locker" for inspiration and, "I don't know why he's worried about me."

Stephen F. Holder can be reached at (813) 226-3377 and