TAMPA, Fla. (AP) -Training camp is more than three months away, however Chris Simms and Jeff Garcia are already gearing up for an interesting race for Tampa Bay's starting quarterback job.
The Buccaneers held their first wave of voluntary offseason workouts this week, with Simms taking the majority of snaps with the first team and free agent signee Garcia still trying to get a feel for coach Jon Gruden's offense.
Simms, who missed most of last year after rupturing his spleen, is considered the early frontrunner because he has been in Gruden's system since 2003 and has started 16 games over the past three seasons.
Garcia, though, is a three-time Pro Bowl selection and a player the Bucs coach has wanted to add to the roster ever since the offseason following Tampa Bay's Super Bowl victory four years ago.
Gruden finally landed him last month when Garcia agreed to a two-year contract after spending last season in Philadelphia, where he led the Eagles to the playoffs while filling in for the injured Donovan McNabb.
``I've been getting a good amount of first-team reps. But the way coach does it this time of the year, we're kind of all over the place. ... You're going to get mixed and matched with everybody,'' Simms said.
``As far as who's starting and who's not, I'm not worried about it. I'm really not. The way I look at it is the competition is with myself, and it's to see how good I can be.''
Garcia concedes that even though he's played in West Coast systems throughout his NFL career, he still has a lot to learn about Gruden's version. He's getting married this month, but said the time he'll be away this spring will not interfere with his preparation for the season.
``I won't be here on a day-to-day basis, partaking in the offseason workout program, but I will be on the phone with (quarterbacks coach) Paul Hackett,'' Garcia said. ``I will be receiving meeting scripts ... and staying on top of things.''
While there are some similarities between Gruden's offense and other West Coast systems Garcia has played in, the veteran quarterback said there are enough differences that it will take a little while to get comfortable.
``He's definitely put his own stamp on it. He's created his own style. He's made it his,'' Garcia said. ``So there are some things that I'm learning. ... I need to retrain my mind. I need to grow and learn again. I don't have a problem with that. It's just going to take time.''
Simms missed the final 13 games of last season after taking several hard hits and having his spleen removed following a loss to Carolina on Sept. 24. He said he felt no lingering effects from the injury during the three days of voluntary workouts this week, adding that the defense even jostled him around a bit.
``I'm not supposed to get hit, but I guess they wanted to test the spleen, or wanted to test the space where it used to be,'' Simms said. ``So far, it's holding up good.''

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