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Bucs' Simms: Sprained thumb won't stop me

TAMPA, Fla. (Dec. 20, 2005) -- Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Chris Simms practiced and said the sprained thumb on his throwing hand will not keep him from playing this week against the Atlanta Falcons.

"I'm young and I'm resilient," the third-year pro said. "It's a physical sport. You expect to get hit and be ready to go the next week."

Simms was sacked seven times Dec. 17 in a 28-0 loss to the New England Patriots, absorbing the worst physical pounding of his brief career. He injured his thumb during the second quarter, but continued to play and finished 21-for-34 for 155 yards.

The injury did not limit him in practice as the Bucs (9-5) began preparation for a crucial NFC South matchup Dec. 24 against the defending division champion Falcons (8-6), who desperately need a victory to stay in the playoff race.

"He threw the ball great. I was pleased with him. ... He's been tough and resilient. That's a great trait to have," coach Jon Gruden said.

Simms, who's 4-4 as the starter since taking over for the injured Brian Griese, said the rest of his battered body was improving, too.

The loss to New England dropped Tampa Bay a game behind division leader Carolina with two games remaining in the regular season.

There are several scenarios in which the Bucs could clinch a playoff berth this weekend, though none is possible without the team first beating Atlanta.

While Simms was able to practice, tackle Kenyatta Walker -- arguably the team's best offensive lineman -- sat out with a shoulder strain that Gruden said is improving.

"He's a little sore from the game, but hopefully he can practice (Dec. 21) and be ready to go," the coach said.

The Associated Press News Service

Copyright 2005, The Associated Press, All Rights Reserved

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