- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 26, 2007

If it’s 2007, this must be Tampa Bay for Jeff Garcia, the poster boy for journeyman quarterbacks.

Garcia is learning a new playbook and a new route to work for the fifth consecutive year, following stints in San Francisco (2003), Cleveland (2004), Detroit (2005) and Philadelphia (2006).

With the Buccaneers, Garcia, 37, is the opening day starter for the first time in four years.

Such is the crazy nature of the NFL. Last year, most viewed Garcia as a backup on the back nine of his career. But Garcia subbed for the injured Donovan McNabb and led the Eagles to a 5-1 record in the regular season, the NFC East title and a second-round playoff appearance, and the perception changed.

Garcia joins a Bucs team in transition. Two years ago, they finished 11-5 and won the NFC South, losing to the Redskins in the playoffs. Last year, quarterback Chris Simms ruptured his spleen in Week 3 and didn’t return. The Bucs slipped to 4-12 and into the division cellar.

Garcia joins linebacker Cato June, offensive tackle Luke Petitgout and tight end Jerramy Stevens as free-agent additions.

“Change, in our opinion, was necessary,” Gruden said during training camp. “We won 11 games two years ago and tried to bring back the core group of players that we had, and obviously that didn’t work for a lot of reasons. … We felt we needed an injection of the free-agent market.”

Enter Garcia. He could have stayed in Philadelphia, but he wanted one more shot as a starter.

“Things are coming together really well,” Garcia said. “Being here in the offseason and being able to work with Coach and be a part of the minicamps helped us work through those growing pains. I just want to be able to meet him halfway as far as what he expects out of me and what I expect out of myself.”

Said Gruden: “I describe him as a piece of barbed wire. … He’s going to compete his butt off. I don’t think I’ve been around too many guys like that in the huddle. I’m excited to see what he does, I really am.”

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