Jeff Garcia's throwing arm is just fine.
Tampa Bay's starting quarterback said Wednesday he was "bothered" by reports that his right arm was sore and that he needed the bye to rest the arm for the remainder of this season.
Garcia said he didn't know where the rumors came from. He even made light of the report.
"I think I'm going to put myself on injured reserve because of some of the things you guys (media) say," Garcia said. "That was news to me."
The reports first surfaced on local TV on Sunday. On Monday, the Bucs coaching staff said Garcia had "normal soreness" common to veteran quarterbacks. Head coach Jon Gruden compared it to the soreness experienced by former Bucs quarterback Brad Johnson in 2002.
"Don't' get me wrong; everybody this time of year — quarterbacks, linebackers, everybody — has got some issues," Gruden said. "It's a tough way to make a living."
Garcia is one of the few NFL quarterbacks to start all of his team's games this year. He is ranked in the NFL's Top 10 in six different passing categories. He's thrown for 1,967 yards on 65.9 percent passing, nine touchdowns and three interceptions.
The 37-year old quarterback said he felt "energized" by the break and was ready for the Bucs' final seven games, which start on Sunday at Atlanta. He's had past success at the Georgia Dome during his days in San Francisco. He threw for nearly 900 yards and eight touchdowns in three meetings against the Falcons from 1999-2001.
The Buccaneers also received a gift during their bye week. Losses by division rivals New Orleans and Carolina allowed them to remain in first place in the NFC South. The Bucs now have a one-game lead over both the Panthers and Saints.
A win over Atlanta on Sunday would give the Bucs a 3-0 division record and knock the Falcons to 3-8, who could make the division race a lot tighter with a victory.
"It would be big to take that next step in the division, to basically secure the first half of the six divisional games," Garcia said. "This would be a great step for this team."
Garcia knows about late-season surges. He subbed for an injured Donovan McNabb and piloting the Eagles to five straight wins and a NFC East title. The Falcons have the feel of a surging team, having won two straight games since their bye.
Garcia knows what it takes to make that sort of late-season run. All it takes, he said, is a couple of victories.
"It really creates energy and excitement," Garcia said. "At this time of the year certain teams start to face because they're getting worn down. The energy starts to leave. It's important we have that energy this week. We're coming off a bye week and we can't have a letdown.
"This team is capable of wining a lot of games. It's important we get excited about that and that it caries over to game day."
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Matthew Postins covers the Buccaneers for Bucsblitz.com and the Charlotte (Fla.) Sun-Herald. He is a member of the Pro Football Writers Association, and his coverage of the Buccaneers has won numerous state and national awards.