Simms hoping for return on Saturday night

Chris Simms knows he's getting better. He knows he wants to play on Saturday against Miami. He's just not sure if he will. Neither is head coach Jon Gruden. But Simms' opportunities to restore the coaching staff's faith in his health and ability are disappearing.

Chris Simms is still on the outside looking in. And that window is closing fast.

He said on Monday that, in the past seven days, he's seen a difference physically in his play. He has better control over his body and his arm. There's more zip on the ball. Things are beginning to click. The mechanics of playing quarterback are becoming more natural now. The soreness in his throwing elbow is easier to manage every day.

But Simms still didn't play on Saturday against Jacksonville, and there's no guarantee that he'll play this Saturday against Miami. His opportunities to restore the coaching staff's faith in his ability are drying up.

"I want to be on the roster and part of this team, but some of these things I can't control," Simms said after practice at One Buc Place. "I just wasn't ready to go, so I continue to keep on working and rehabbing and make sure I'm right where I need to be on Saturday night."

Simms said he underestimated the impact his injury — a ruptured spleen, which was surgically removed last September — would have on him. In fact, he said that two months ago he couldn't have envisioned himself on the field. Everything was too hard.

"It's been more of an obstacle to overcome than I thought," Simms said.

Simms said it's getting easier, but that doesn't mean he'll play Saturday night in Miami, perhaps his last chance to sway the coaching staff — period. The first cuts are on Aug. 28, and the Bucs must pare the roster down to 75 players.

Head coach Jon Gruden didn't have much to say about Simms when asked if he might play on Saturday.

"I don't know," Gruden said. "We'll have to update you here, see how he does. He's got to earn the snaps on the practice field, and when he does we'll play him.

Practice time has been hard to come by since this bout with soreness in Simms' throwing elbow began shortly after training camp began.

Simms spent the majority of Monday's practice — mainly a walkthrough — watching from the sideline. He's had way too much of that during training camp, especially during the five-day period early in camp where he dressed out, but barely participated in practice.

Simms did pass a training camp physical in July, so officially he's healthy. He said on Monday that he thinks he's 100 percent healthy. His blood pressure is fine. He can go 10 minutes on a treadmill "all day long."

The difference is apparently between being 100 percent healthy and 100 percent recovered — as in "football shape."

"That's where I can say I'm not exactly the way I was before I got hurt," Simms said.

Gone are the big goals Simms had for himself before training camp began. Now he just wants to play, even a little bit.

You just realize that the reality of the situation, you know it's hard to tell sometimes from day to day, but I know it's been two days since I threw my last ball and I threw better today than I did warming up in Jacksonville," Simms said. "So I think it will just gradually get better.

"I'm definitely hoping to give it a go this week."

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Matthew Postins covers the Buccaneers for and the Charlotte Sun-Herald in Port Charlotte, Fla. He is a member of the Pro Football Writers Association and has won national awards for his Buccaneers coverage from the PFWA, the National Newspaper Association and the Associated Press Sports Editors.

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