It turns out that QB Jeff Garcia has more than a sprained ankle. He now also has a bruised ego.
Garcia believes the Buccaneers are benching him not because of the condition of his ankle, but because of his play. Garcia said Thursday he is healthy enough to play — but he is not scheduled to start. Brian Griese is.
“The ankle, I’m going to go out and run around today,” Garcia told Tampa-area reporters Thursday. “I feel like it is healing up fast. It was one of those things where I just rolled my ankle unfortunately it was stiff on Monday. It got better as the week has progressed. It is at a point now where I feel like if I was the starter I would’ve been able to practice yesterday and today.
“I’ve played through a lot worse before and that is not anything new. Everybody in this locker room is going to play through some nicks, some pain, and some sort of injury. That is just the way that this game is and I don’t expect anything less. I feel like there are some things that I can definitely play through.”
Only for now, he will not be given that chance. It has been a trying time for Garcia, who failed to collect $1 million in playing-time incentives last season when Tampa Bay rested him in one game against San Francisco. Then Garcia watched as Tampa Bay flirted with the idea of trading for Brett Favre. Then he strained his calf on the opening day of training camp. And now, after struggling versus New Orleans on opening day, Garcia has been benched, causing some to wonder about his relationship with Buccaneers coach Jon Gruden.
“Our relationship is not fractured,” Garcia said. “We’ve had some good talks and some good meetings, and as much as that is difficult to take as far as not being the starter this weekend, we are going to work through this together and I’m going to do whatever I have to do to better myself.”
And that, ultimately, is the bottom line on this Garcia story: He is frustrated with the Buccaneers but professional enough to try to play through it.