Bucs Training Camp Preview — Quarterbacks

BucsBlitz.com's countdown to training camp concludes today with a preview of the Buccaneers' quarterbacks. Each day BucsBlitz.com will break down a different position leading up to reporting day in Orlando on July 26.

QUARTERBACKS : Jeff Garcia (starter), Chris Simms, Bruce Gradkowski, Luke McCown, Zac Taylor, Jake Plummer.

Jon Gruden has collected quarterbacks this offseason as if he's trying to put together a trading card set.

Garcia is the starter, even though it's not official yet (it will be when the first depth chart is released at training camp). Garcia best fits the mold of a Gruden quarterback — an undeniably accurate passer who minimizes mistakes, can move the football and find the end zone. His age may not be as big a factor as some might thing. Quarterbacks in their mid-30's, such as Rich Gannon and Brad Johnson, have had great success in the offense. But those two quarterbacks also stayed healthy. Garcia must do the same.

Simms is having problems with his mechanics, a result of his September surgery to remove his spleen. He's all but lost the starting job, and now has a tenuous hold on No. 2. He has to prove during camp that his fundamentals are back in tune and that he's capable of moving the offense as he did in 2005.

Gradkowski's first season was a downhill slide. But he could again be the immediate backup if he overtakes Simms. The Bucs must first make sure that his confidence is intact after all the bumps of last season. Then, Gradkowski has to improve his defensive recognition, decision-making and his arm strength. At this point he seems to be a poor man's Jeff Garcia.

McCown is possibly the most athletic quarterback on the roster. If not for blowing out his knee, he likely would have been Simms' backup last year and spared Gradkowski his travails. Like Simms, McCown has a big arm. Like Garcia, he's exceptionally mobile. He recognizes defenses well. But he really hasn't seen a game snap since his rookie season in 2004 in Cleveland. Gradkowski actually has more game time logged than McCown. The Texas native will have to overtake either Gradkowksi or Simms to survive a roster cut.

Taylor is nothing more than an extra arm for training camp. A nice arm, but nothing more. He could be their practice squad quarterback, though.

Plummer is on the roster in name only. He's shown no interest in coming to camp. If he doesn't show, it shouldn't be a distraction, though, except for the logical questions about Plummer the first day. But, if for some reason he does show up, look out. The quarterback race changes and the distractions will come like a flood. Expect him to be either released or traded if he doesn't show.

Click here to see the other stories in the series so far:

Special teams

Defensive tackle

Defensive end

Linebacker

Secondary

Tight ends

Offensive line

Wide receivers

Running backs


Matthew Postins covers the Buccaneers for BucsBlitz.com and the Charlotte Sun-Herald in Port Charlotte, Fla. He is a member of the Pro Football Writers Association. Included among his more than two dozen writing and editing awards are national awards from the PFWA, the National Newspaper Association and the Associated Press Sports Editors, and state awards from the Florida Press Club and the Florida Sports Writers Association, for his coverage of the Buccaneers since 2004.


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