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Buccaneers QB Simms has spleen removed

TAMPA, Fla. (Sept. 24, 2006) -- Tampa Bay quarterback Chris Simms had his spleen removed after taking several hard hits in 26-24 loss to the Carolina Panthers and was resting comfortably in a hospital afterwards.

There was no immediate word on how long the fourth-year pro might be sidelined. The recuperation time for a normal person is four to six weeks, though it's unclear how long it might take to heal enough to play football.

"Chris is doing well and we anticipate a full recovery," team physician Dr. Joe Diaco said in a brief statement, adding the 26-year-old son of former New York Giants quarterback Phil Simms was in stable condition.

Simms had a blood transfusion as part of his treatment and was expected to be hospitalized for several days, Peter King said during a break on NBC's Sunday Night Football, citing a conversation the Sports Illustrated reporter had with Simms' mother, Diana Simms.

The spleen is an organ located in the upper left side of the abdomen, storing blood and breaking down old blood cells to help the body fight infections. Many people live productive, healthy lives without it.

Simms, who left the game briefly but returned, was taken to St. Joseph's Hospital, a few blocks from Raymond James Stadium. Coach Jon Gruden said during his postgame news conference that Simms hurt his ribs early in the game and was also battling dehydration.

"He is hurting right now, there is no question," Gruden said. "He left the game. I don't know that it was because of his ribs, dehydration or both."

The loss of Simms is certainly a blow to a Tampa Bay team looking to recover from an 0-3 start.

Simms was replaced by rookie Bruce Gradkowski for the last play of the third quarter and first play of the fourth. He went to the ground on one knee before leaving the field and walking to the locker room under his own power.

The Bucs punted two plays later, and Simms returned to the game when Tampa Bay got the ball back. He led a fourth-quarter drive for a field goal that gave the Bucs a 24-23 lead, but the defense couldn't hold.

When he left the game, the team announced he was cramping. Simms finished the game, which Carolina won on John Kasay 's 46-yard field goal with 2 seconds remaining, and left the field with his teammates on his own power.

Simms completed 13 of 24 passes for 139 yards, one touchdown and one interception. He was sacked once and also took a hard hit from linebacker Adam Seward when he scored on a 2-yard run that gave Tampa Bay a 21-20 lead in the third quarter.

Gradkowski, a sixth-round draft pick from Toledo, earned the backup quarterback job in training camp. Journeyman Tim Rattay is also on the roster.

Simms was a third-round draft pick in 2003. He took over the No. 1 job last season when Brian Griese was lost for the year in the sixth game and helped the Bucs finish 11-5, win the NFC South and make the playoffs for the first time since their 2002 Super Bowl run.

He has struggled this year, though, playing poorly in a 27-0 season-opening loss to Baltimore and following that up with an equally disappointing performance in a 14-3 loss at Atlanta.

His first pass against Carolina was intercepted, setting up Carolina's first touchdown. He settled to lead an 82-yard TD drive in the second quarter and took advantage of three turnovers to overcome a 17-0 deficit and nearly beat the Panthers.

In 15 career regular-season starts, Simms is 7-8. He also lost his only playoff start last year.

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