TAMPA, Fla. -- There's a running joke that Jon Gruden never feels like he has enough quarterbacks on his roster.
The Tampa Bay coach took four to training camp five weeks ago and emerged Saturday with the same quartet after deciding to keep Chris Simms, who has struggled to regain his throwing form after missing most of last season with a spleen injury.
How long the Buccaneers, who are hoping to rebound from a 4-12 finish, reasonably can expect to go with four quarterbacks is a question Gruden was not available to answer after the squad was trimmed to the season-opening limit of 53 players.
Jeff Garcia was signed as a free agent in March and given the starting job. Luke McCown and Bruce Gradkowski, who started 11 games as a rookie last year, both had solid preseasons and are ahead of Simms on the depth chart.
Defensive tackle Ellis Wyms, linebacker Jamie Winborn, rookie running back Kenneth Darby and second-year cornerback Alan Zemaitis were among 21 players released Saturday. Tackle Chris Denman, cornerback Carlos Hendricks and receivers Paris Warren and Chas Gessner were waived injured.
Simms led the Bucs to the playoffs in 2005, but played poorly and was 0-3 last year before having his spleen removed after taking several hard hits during a loss to Carolina last Sept. 24. He missed the 13 weeks of the season.
The fifth-year pro signed a two-year, $7 million contract extension and began throwing again in December. But he's struggled with his accuracy, was limited in practice during training camp and quickly dropped behind McCown and Gradkowski on the depth chart.
Simms played one series during the preason, taking six snaps against Miami. He scratched himself from last Thursday night's game against Houston because of a strained hip, an injury Gruden said he was unaware of until the quarterback said he couldn't play against the Texans.
Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press