TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS

Simms eyes No. 2 QB job


Published: Sunday, August 1, 2004 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, August 1, 2004 at 1:14 a.m.

LAKE BUENA VISTA - All the extra hours spent in the film room and on the practice field are paying off for Chris Simms.

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Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Chris Simms looks down field for a receiver Saturday.

The Associated Press

The 23-year-old quarterback entered his second training camp with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers this weekend, coming off a rookie season in which he felt he made significant progress despite not playing a down.

He's competing with Brian Griese for the backup job behind Brad Johnson and hasn't given the Bucs any reason to think he doesn't have a future as a No. 1.

"I would love to be the No. 2 guy. I'd love to be the starting quarterback," Simms said between practices Saturday. "I'm just going to go out and be myself, try to play good every day, make smart decisions and let the coaches make decisions."

The son of former New York Giants quarterback Phil Simms completed nearly 59 percent of his passes for 7,097 yards and 58 touchdowns at the University of Texas before being selected in the third round of last year's draft.

He was declared inactive for all 16 games as a rookie, but impressed the coaching staff with his ability to grasp Jon Gruden's complex offensive system.

Simms also soaked up as much as possible by watching Johnson, a 13th-year pro who led the Bucs to a Super Bowl title two seasons ago. By the end of the year, he felt he could have played if needed.

"I learned a lot and enjoyed the whole year," Simms said. "I think any competitor would want to be playing. I would have loved to have played. ... But I never hit a low point."

Simms' progress in a relatively short period of time has caught the attention of teammates, who say he has the potential to be a star.

"I'll be ready if they need me," he said.

In six pro seasons, Griese has thrown for 12,576 yards, 76 touchdowns and 59 interceptions. The Bucs feel he still has some productive years in him, but Simms will get every opportunity to earn the backup job.

"It's going to be a battle that's well-earned by someone," Gruden said.

"And they're not just battling for the No. 2 job their whole lives, either. They're going to compete to someday become a starter, and they've got to perform at an unbelievably high rate to ever win that job because The Bull (Johnson) was looking sharp and very impressive today."

He spent much of the offseason watching film and working with the coaching staff to expand his knowledge of the system.

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