Bucs Expected To Release At Least One QB

April 27 - Tampa Bay added another quarterback to its roster on Saturday when they selected Texas' Chris Simms, but they are expected to release at least one signal caller this week prior to mini-camp. The Bucs seem intent on taking just four quarterbacks to training camp, which means yet another passer will be released at some point this summer.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers suddenly crowded quarterback situation will become thinned out this week before the team's first mini-camp of 2003 takes place this weekend on May 2-4. The Bucs' addition of Texas quarterback Chris Simms late in the third round currently gives Tampa Bay six quarterbacks on their roster, including starter Brad Johnson, holdover Shaun King and newcomers Jim Miller, Shane Matthews and Greg Zolman.

But don't expect the team to keep all six. Tampa Bay head coach Jon Gruden said that at least one quarterback will be released in the next day or two.

"There's a chance we won't have six quarterbacks when we go to mini-camp," said Gruden. "A roster move is obviously in the mix here. We've just got to decide what's best for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and that's going to be a very difficult decision. That decision will be made and executed shortly."

"It'll be (Gruden's) call," Tampa Bay general manager Rich McKay said of which quarterback will be released. "It won't be done because of the numbers. It may be done because of the reps. You want to be sure that everyone gets enough reps and gets enough work."

Bucs officials suggest that Zolman, a young player with little NFL experience, will be the likely cut, but the team will look long and hard at the quarterback position to decide what is not only best for the Buccaneers, but also for the players. Releasing one quarterback would leave the Bucs with five passers on the roster, but only four capable arms as Miller is still rehabbing from rotator cuff shoulder surgery this offseason.

"He's a wild card in this whole mix," Gruden said of Miller. "He's working real hard on his rehab and he's suffered some serious injuries. This is a rotator cuff injury that has been surgically repaired. He's making great progress, and while he's progressing in terms of his rehab, he's learning our offense. But we won't make any formal decision on Jim Miller until the later part of June. In the meantime, we're going to take a good look at our rookie quarterback and Shaun King and let those guys go after the reps that are available."

Team sources have told Pewter Report that a healthy Miller could be the front-runner for the backup job behind Johnson, but that his ability to throw and throw effectively in training camp will ultimately be the deciding factor on whether he makes Tampa Bay's 53-man roster.

"It's going to take a little while and he's going to ease into it," McKay said of Miller. "By the trainer's prognosis, he's way ahead of schedule and should be able to throw the ball in the next couple of weeks. As far as participating on the field, I've got to think that that's going to be six weeks away. Now he's participating in the sense that he's watching more tape than you should watch in trying to learn the offense at a very fast pace. As far as being on our team and throwing with reps, that's still a ways to go."

McKay indicated that Miller will miss the team's mini-camp and 14 organized team activity practices, but will be ready for training camp.

"I think that's very possible," McKay said. "Our object going in was to have him ready for training camp. It was no sooner than that. He would like to think, and I think the trainers think that he's ahead of that. That's still our schedule."

If Miller's progress is sufficient enough to merit the Bucs taking him to training camp, Gruden hinted that there could be another quarterback released during the summer in order to get down to just four quarterbacks.

"Historically on the teams I've been on, we've normally taken four guys to training camp," said Gruden. "There is a good chance that that is the number we take to Orlando this summer as well."

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