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Saturday, August 23, 2008
Garcia's debut doesn't create QB controversy for Bucs

By Pat Yasinskas
ESPN.com

Posted by ESPN.com's Pat Yasinskas

TAMPA, Fla. -- If you're looking for a quarterback controversy from the Bucs, stop.

Despite a disappointing debut by Jeff Garcia, he's still ticketed to be the starter. Garcia, who survived the Brett Favre rumors, missed the first two preseason games and most of training camp with a calf injury.

Garcia looked out of synch, throwing two interceptions in his first preseason action. He finished with 11 completions on 18 attempts for 79 yards and did hit Michael Clayton with a 10-yard touchdown pass in a 23-17 loss to Jacksonville.

"This is a game you've really got to be out there and play with your teammates,'' Tampa Bay coach Jon Gruden said. "He'll get better because of what happened tonight.''

Backup Brian Griese, who entered the game in the second quarter, was sharp. Griese finished with seven completions on 11 attempts for 71 yards. Luke McCown finished the game and completed 11 of 19 passes for 104 yards and a touchdown. But McCown was sacked once and threw an interception.

Garcia is known for his efficiency, but Gruden didn't sound like a coach about to make a change because of one bad outing.

"It was not trademark Jeff Garcia,'' Gruden said. "I think he tried to do a little too much a little too soon. We've got to get him back on the practice field. We've got to get him in the fold here in terms of his reps and things of that nature. He'll be ok, but there were some situations he tried to get way too much out of.''

If the starting quarterback job isn't in doubt, everything else is at the position. Griese may have the edge for the backup job, but the Bucs remain high on McCown. That doesn't mean the roster is set with those three quarterbacks. Rookie Josh Johnson has played only very briefly in the preseason, but the Bucs believe he's a project and want to find a way to keep him. That could mean carrying four quarterbacks on the roster.

Perhaps the most certain thing about the quarterback position is that Chris Simms won't be with the team for long. He didn't play Saturday night after being showcased in the first two preseason games. The Bucs will look to trade Simms shortly. If that doesn't happen, they'll have to release him.