Postscripts — A 'sore' issue

In this edition of 'Postscripts,' Bucs Expert Matthew Postins writes that there may be nothing more wrong with Chris Simms than a sore shoulder. But GM Bruce Allen's repeated denials simply put fuel on a fire he wanted to put out.

We did everything short of pinning Bruce Allen against a wall and shaking him down as if we were dirty cops. But he never broke.

Give him that. He never broke.

Allen called the St. Petersburg Times report on Chris Simms' ailing shoulder a bunch of bunk. Then he and media engaged in 10 minutes of verbal fencing, none of it contentious, mind you. It actually proved to be great debate.

We think there's something wrong with his shoulder. He says there isn't. And the tiebreaker — Simms — isn't talking right now.

How much do you want to bet Simms gets the "morning off" on Tuesday?

Maybe this will all blow over, as Allen's words suggested Monday. He said Simms will be participating in 7-on-7 and 11-on-11 drills on Tuesday, and that he expects him to be ready for the preseason opener on Aug. 10. If that's the case, then this will likely be forgotten.

We with the notebooks and the TV cameras can do some crazy things sometimes. But one thing we don't do is make stuff like this up. That's why I think it's likely that there's more than a little truth to this report, and certainly not the "inaccurate" report that Allen made it out to be.

I've watched every practice since the opening of camp, and I can tell you these things:

Physically, overall, Chris Simms is fine.

Up until Sunday afternoon, he was getting plenty of reps in all drills.

On Sunday afternoon, I first noticed that he wasn't getting as many reps in team drills, but felt that it was because they wanted to get Luke McCown and Bruce Gradkowski a little more work.

On Monday morning, I noticed that he wasn't seeing any passing reps in 7-on-7 or 11-on-11 drills. He did participate in the pat-and-gos at the start of practice, which is basically light tossing.

Why? That's what we're trying to find out.

If it's just your typical shoulder soreness, then don't worry about it. It'll pass, Simms will be fine and the competition for No. 2 will be complete again. Of course, if it's your typical shoulder soreness, Allen shouldn't have spent 10 minutes denying everything. All he did was pour gasoline on a fire I'm sure he was trying to put out.

If it's more than that, Simms should be concerned for his employment. It's four quarterbacks for three spots, remember?

This year this franchise hasn't been kind to those with injuries. Shelton Quarles earned his release after failing a postseason physical in January. His release came four months later, even as Quarles thought he still had more time to get himself right. The Bucs had Barrett Ruud. So the Bucs let him go.

Simeon Rice was cut Thursday when he failed a pre-camp physical. The Bucs dropped the ball in a bigger way. They could have put Rice on the PUP and left him there into Week 8 of the season. Sure, they would have had to pay his big salary, but they had the cap room and that still would have given Gaines Adams all the reps he needed at right end. Rice is going to have a big year somewhere, and Tampa Bay is going to regret letting him go.

This organization hasn't been kind lately to those that have gotten hurt. Granted, Quarles and Rice were both in their mid-30s, and Simms is still on the short side of 30. But this franchise has had a propensity in the Gruden-Allen era for dropping players with the tag "failed physical." Same thing happened to John Lynch. Does he look infirmed in Denver?

I can't say Allen is being dishonest, because I haven't spoken to Simms and because Allen is denying everything. And, in the words of the CIA, it's "plausible deniability." It's easy to assume that Simms just has a sore shoulder and nothing more. It's also easy to assume that the information Allen is denying is also true.

I believe there is something wrong with Simms, but it's not that serious. But Simms has trade value, even if he is forced out in the quarterback competition, and the Bucs don't want to jeopardize that. A story like this, as it spreads like wildfire, is kryptonite to a player's trade value. So the Bucs try to control the message.

So Allen denies everything, as if that will kill the story. The only thing that will do that is Simms showing up at practice on Tuesday and saying, "I'm fine."

And some actual throws would help, too.


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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