LAKE BUENA VISTA - Rare is the day when a large band of ominous gray thunder clouds doesn't build up over the Bucs training camp complex, threatening to wash away a workout with a deluge of showers.
And rare now is the day when quarterback Chris Simms doesn't feel as if one of those dark clouds has been following him ever since he first put on an NFL uniform.
'It does seem as if there have been a lot of 'What ifs' in my career,' Simms said. 'I mean, I get my first start in New Orleans in my second year and I get hurt. What if that doesn't happen?
'And what if we get that completion to Edell Shepherd in the playoff game against Washington two years ago? And what if I don't get hurt last year? It just seems to go on and on.'
Indeed it does. That dark cloud that seems to be following Simms appeared to rain down on him again Monday when his work in practice was limited, perhaps because of a sore left throwing arm.
An Internet report said Simms is being forced to take anti-inflammatory medication just to get on the field and also may be suffering from symptoms similar to those associated with proprioception.
Proprioception is a kinesthetic sixth sense that allows the body to protect itself through the immediate involuntary interaction between the brain and the involuntary response in muscles.
An injury such as the one Simms suffered to his spleen last season can cause the ailment, which can have a detrimental effect on someone's body movement and posture. In Simms' case, it appears to have resulted in a sore throwing arm.
Simms refused to comment on the issue Monday, but during an afternoon news conference Bucs general manager Bruce Allen called the Internet report, on the St. Petersburg Times' Web site, on Simms 'completely inaccurate.'
'Chris, as all quarterbacks that go through training camp, deal with different sorenesses,' Allen said. 'We have defensive linemen that have sore elbows, sore shoulders from the pounding - nothing unusual.
'I saw the report, the headline and all of that. That's inaccurate. His arm is not an issue. His health is not an issue. Does Chris feel like he's at his 'A' game right now? Probably not.
'He missed a lot of time last year with his spleen injury, but he's been, this offseason, working very hard and he wants to get back into a rhythm. There's no doubt about that. And he will work to get there.'
Coach Jon Gruden did not address the Simms situation Monday but when asked Sunday if Simms was hurt in any way or being limited because of physical problems, he said no.
'He's healthy,' Gruden said. 'He wouldn't be out here playing if he wasn't healthy. He's got to pick up his play. That's the big thing. I'm not going to address the health thing anymore.'
Simms suffered a ruptured spleen during the Bucs' Week 3 game against Carolina last season. His spleen was removed later that night and Simms was placed later on injured reserve.
He began rehabbing from the injury late last season and by the spring of this year he was back throwing again. However, Simms says he developed some poor throwing mechanics as a result of favoring the area around his incision.
Simms got the majority of the second-team reps on the first day of camp Friday and his arm looked strong in most of those drills but the results were varied.
Allen said Simms has had only about five or six fewer reps than projected starter Jeff Garcia has had, but Simms' throwing reps clearly have diminished the last couple of days.
He threw during several team drills in both practices Sunday, but he only threw during the pre-practice warm-up period Monday morning. Monday's afternoon practice was rained out.
According to Allen, Simms did participate in other team drills Monday. He also said Simms is slated to throw in 7-on-7 and 11-on-11 drills during workouts today.
'That's the plan,' he said.
The controversy surrounding Simms comes while he is embroiled in a battle for the backup quarterback's job with second-year pro Bruce Gradkowski and fourth-year pro Luke McCown.
Both combatants are believed to be outplaying Simms, who has long been the subject of trade speculation. News of Simms' apparent ailments could hinder the Bucs' chances of trading Simms, but it could lead to other actions.
The Bucs could cut Simms outright or they could place him on injured reserve if problems with his arm or anything else hamper him. Allen said repeatedly, however, that Simms' health is not an issue.
'What he's been able to, he's proved that physically he's fine,' Allen said. 'We just have to see if we can get a little bit better each day. That's all we're trying to do as a whole football team.'
Allen's comments strongly echoed those made by Simms following Sunday's morning workout. Though he admits he's got plenty of room for improvement, he said he feels good and is on pace to regain his form.
'I feel really good,' Simms said. 'I don't feel like I am where I was before I got hurt last year. I don't feel like that yet, but I'm going to continue to work and I know it will come.'
Reporter Roy Cummings can be reached at (813) 259-7979 or at email@example.com.