TAMPA, Fla. -- Tampa Bay's Jeff Garcia wasn't happy with his performance in a season-opening loss to New Orleans, however he didn't think it was poor enough to cost him his starting job.
The Buccaneers quarterback spoke out Thursday about coach Jon Gruden's decision to bench him following a 24-20 loss to the Saints. Brian Griese will start Sunday's home opener against Atlanta.
"Having only played one game, I would have liked to have been given a chance to battle through whatever Im going through," Garcia said. "I mean, there are some quarterbacks out there that played worse than I did last week."
Gruden announced the change Wednesday, two days after the coach revealed Garcia sprained an ankle against the Saints and would be listed as questionable to play this week.
In turning the offense over to Griese, however, the coach made it clear that the decision was not based on the injury.
Garcia said he twisted his ankle, but that it was improving. He was limited in practice Thursday, but feels he would be ready to play by Sunday if he were still the starter.
"I've played through a lot worse," said Garcia, who completed 24 of 41 passes for 221 yards, one touchdown and one interception against the Saints. "Everybody in this locker room is going to play through some sort of pain, nick or injury."
Garcia missed most of training camp and the preseason with a strained right calf. He also has had a jammed pinkie finger on his throwing hand and said Thursday he also had a lower back problem during the offseason.
Also detracting from the quarterback's focus since last season was a lack of progress on a contract extension and Gruden's decision to pursue a trade for Brett Favre the first week of training camp.
"I don't know if coach just believes that because of things that have stockpiled it seems to have taken away from the edge I normally have on the field or what," Garcia said. "But if that's what he believes, then I need to do my best to get that back and prove to him that it's there."
Gruden said despite the benching, his relationship with Garcia is fine.
"He knows exactly where I'm coming from," the coach said after practice.
"Jeff will not start. ... I expect him to be active, and hopefully he can get back here soon and play with the style that we all know and need around here."
Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press.