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Chris Simms knows the question before it's even asked.
After a year of being punched around by injuries, welcoming new quarterbacks and tumbling down a mythical depth chart, how's your mind?
"I'm doing fine, I really am," Simms said after practice on Sunday. "I continue to work and get better and not worry about anything else that's going on. Things will fall as they may."
Physically, Simms is 100 percent, he said. His mechanics, which he admitted in June were faulty, are very nearly back to where they were at the start of the 2005 season. He said even reporters have commented that there's pop back in his ball.
And those notebook-toting reporters are right. His passes have reclaimed their zip and his confidence is growing every day. The passes that were floating behind receivers in June are hitting them in stride now. He's not completely clicking yet, but he's certain that he will be very soon.
Simms said his faulty mechanics were his own fault.
"I told a few people yesterday (that) probably my biggest thing is that I started throwing back too soon, and that's totally my fault," Simms said. "I probably developed some bad habits."
Those habits are rapidly fading. Simms may not be the starter — Jeff Garcia seems to have that job locked down — but he now appears to be a far stiffer competitor for Bruce Gradkowski in the race to be Garcia's backup than he did a month ago in Tampa.
On Sunday, in his first practice in pads since September, Simms looked relaxed and sharp in 11-on-11 drills. His best pass came on a fade route to David Boston in the corner of the end zone, which Simms slipped to Boston perfectly, despite tight coverage by cornerback Ronde Barber.
He says he's not worried about being hit in the area where he ruptured his spleen last September, an injury that required surgery and ended his season. But he said he learned something from that experience last year.
Sometimes, it's best not to be a tough guy.
"I think the biggest thing I learned is being healthy is the No. 1 thing," Simms said. "Not only for myself to be healthy, but I have to think about the teammates around me. Sometimes you just have to say, ‘Get down and don't take the shot. It's not worth it for your team and for yourself.' Those are things I see Peyton Manning and Tom Brady do. Maybe it's not the most graceful play in the world, but it's about being able to play that next play."
Stay tuned for the Afternoon Blitz, BucsBlitz.com's exclusive look inside Sunday's practices at training camp, and Gruden Speaks, which includes the head coach's complete Sunday practice transcript.
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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.