Simms' long recovery takes a good turn

Tampa Bay Buccaneers backup quarterback Chris Simms told reporters on Monday that his abdominal muscles shut down after his splenectomy and were the main cause for his throwing problems during training camp. With some new exercises designed to activate those muscles, Simms said he should be back to his old self by OTAs.

This time, Chris Simms said, he finally has it figured out.

Simms spoke to the media on Monday for the first since being played on injured reserve on October, and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers backup quarterback said it took a visit to a local doctor with experience with his type of surgery to help him figure out what ailed him.

It turns out Simms skipped a couple of steps in his rehabilitation.

"I found out that it's pretty common that, in traumatic surgeries like I had, that I had a lot of muscles that had shut off behind the scar," Simms said. "I guess it's pretty common when you have a big scar like that, the body kind of knows to shut off the muscles and protect the scar. So that's why I lost power and didn't feel like myself throwing the ball. I had muscles that weren't doing anything. They were just sitting there hanging out."

Those muscles were the ones that kept Simms from progressing during training camp. At the time, he told reporters he just felt rusty and just needed to keep practicing and working hard.

That was the stubborn athlete in him, he said.

"All that time I basically wasted because I guess you could say ignorant to the whole situation," Simms said.

Simms lost his spleen to emergency surgery after playing against Carolina in September of 2005. The track record for this type of injury is rare because it rarely happens in the game of football.

Simms' new doctors put him on a regimen of simple exercises two months ago designed to stimulate his dormant abdominal muscles, which are important to quarterbacks and pitchers in athletics.

"The way it was explained to me, I probably started off with steps three, four and five before steps one and two," Simms said. "I just had to get my body doing some functional exercised to get it back going."

A couple of weeks ago Simms began throwing full throttle and after five throws he felt a complete difference.

"As soon as I threw the first five throws I thought to myself, ‘I feel like myself again,' and that's the first time I've felt like myself in a long time. I was extremely excited," Simms said.

Now the hard part. Does Simms have a place on this team?

The Bucs made waves when they kept the five-year vet on the roster during his recovery, and even more waves when they placed him on injured reserve. Simms said he had no ill feelings toward the team regarding the move, saying that the team needed the roster spot and he wasn't ready to play anyway.

During his absence, Jeff Garcia entrenched himself as the No. 1 quarterback and Luke McCown played well enough to be considered the backup entering the offsesaon.

Does that leave room for Simms, who will enter the final year of his two-year contract in 2008 and should be ready to resume team workouts in March? He isn't sure, but he hopes the fact that the team has kept him around is a positive sign of his status.

Plus, he no longer has the doubts about his ability that he found himself with at times this season.

"I think the one thing the last month has proven to me — and trust me, there were times when I said, ‘I don't know if I'll ever feel the way I felt before the injury — is that I've been throwing a lot and I have no reason to believe that I won't be my old self," Simms said.

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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.


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