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: November 14, 2007, 06:17:32 PM

HEAD COACH JON GRUDEN
(On injured players)

“Greg Spires did not practice today and we had a number of guys that were limited.”

(On if Michael Pittman and Alex Smith will play on Sunday)
“As far as I know. Again, Mike Pittman, [Michael] Clayton, [Patrick] Chukwurah, amongst others, were very limited today. They have been out of use for some time so…I don’t know. I do not know.”

(On if turnovers have been the biggest issue in the Bucs’ road losses)
“Well, Peyton Manning had a lot to do with one of the losses. We turned the ball over self-inflictedly – if that’s an adjective – in Detroit, fumbling snaps and exchanges. That certainly was a big problem. We didn’t play particularly well defensively against Detroit. We had a punt blocked – that had a lot to do with the outcome of that game. Yeah, turnovers always are a big reason why you don’t win.”

(On preparing for Atlanta)
“I think Bob Petrino is a great coach. He’s doing a hell of a job, if you ask me. They’ve won back-to-back games, they lead the NFC in turnover ratio and their defense is unbelievable right now. They are all over the opponents that I’ve seen them play against. Pressure, full pressure…and it’s a credit to them. They’ve got a lot of really good players and they’re playing hard and they’ve won two in a row.”

(On Warrick Dunn continuing to excel despite having doubters)
“I don’t know who ever questioned his ability. He’s a great back. One of the sick days in my life is when we lost him. He’s, I think, 60 yards shy of 10,000. You don’t get 10,000 yards unless you’re a Hall of Fame talent. He’s one of the great guys there are in football. I just hope he doesn’t get that 10,000 milestone against us. But we’re proud of what he did for our franchise and we look forward to competing with him, as always.”

(On this game being particularly important)
“You say that every week. ‘Huge game this week.’ Big game – any time you play, it’s big. And when you play a divisional game on the road against a common opponent like Atlanta it’s certainly going to be exciting. We’ve got to have the game. We’re no different than anybody else that’s in business in this league.”

(On some players talking about struggling to get restarted after a bye)
“That’s their problem. We’ll get our butts kicked if that’s the case. A couple years ago we came off the bye and we beat Minnesota at home. It was a convincing victory, probably our best performance as a football team. If you’re sluggish coming off the bye or you’re sluggish coming off the great win you just had, you’re going to get beat. Our players understand that. Hopefully, my message gets to them here today.”

(On how different it is this year to have a quarterback staying healthy and bringing continuity to the game plan)
“It’s a miracle, based on what we’ve been through. Unfortunately, we’ve lost continuity all over the place, especially on offense. It’s something we’ve never had but hoped to acquire this year. But losing our tight end, our left tackle, our running backs and multiple receivers has hurt us. I’m really excited about what these young guys have done, stepping up in the last three games. They’ve clearly gotten better and proved they belong. Now we’ll see if they belong in a playoff stretch.”

(On how imperative it is to have more than one reliable running back)
“It is imperative. I think it is important. If you’ve got a great back that’s got the whole package, you’d like to get him the ball as many ways as you can.”

(On if he has gotten the health news he wanted after the bye week)
“No, not really. We still have 13 players on IR and we have 10 or 12 guys that were very limited today. It’s still a challenge and it will be a challenge for this season. But we are optimistic that some guys will have a chance to play this Sunday that haven’t played in the past. But at the same time, I don’t see it right now.”

(On John Abraham)
“Abraham’s a great player. I’ve got a lot of respect for the job they’ve done there in Atlanta, bringing in Abraham and Roderick Coleman. I think DeAngelo Hall’s stellar; he’s at the top of his game. Lawyer Milloy is still one of the ringleaders of this league. Jamaal Anderson and [Chris] Houston – those two guys come in from Arkansas. And Keith Brooking has been a pain in my rear end for five years; he’s just a great player. You put that together with the job [Mike] Zimmer and his staff have done with pressure, it’s been very effective for them.”





LB DERRICK BROOKS
(On if he is feeling refreshed after the bye week)

“Yes I do. The bye week came at a good time as a lot of the players are saying. Right now the bye week is over. As we got back in here on Monday that was a real big emphasis on letting go of the bye week and really getting your attention focused on Atlanta. For the past couple of days we have watched a lot of tape on them. I think to a man, we feel that this team is a lot better than their record. They are on a two-game winning streak, and we have to go into their place and find a way to get a win.”

(On the division race)
“If you look across the league all division races, except New England, are one and two games. Everyone feels that they have a chance to make a push. That is good for the league as a whole. It is going to keep this season exciting all the way up to the last game of the season. Right now we are sitting in the driver’s seat, and we really control our own destiny. Win our games; take care of our business we will have nothing to worry about. Divisional games, there is nothing more important. We got off to a good start, 2-0, now we are trying to make it 3-0 in our division.”


DE/DT KEVIN CARTER
(On the team)

“We like our chances. We like who we are that this point of the season. Our record isn’t what we would have it ideally. However, given the circumstances, I think we really fought well. We got ourselves in a position obviously, by the turn of events elsewhere in our division that really put us in a position as to where we can have a profound effect on our own destiny. I can’t say we control our own destiny because you never know what is going to happen but we have a shot.”

(On coming out of the bye week)
“Sometimes people have a hard time getting it going again. It is a lot to take a week off from something like this and expect to come back and be full speed and everything else. You have to be professional. We all have a job to do. The bye week, for me, couldn’t come at a better time. It gave me a chance to rest up, get back on track, and get the battery recharged and ready to go.”


WR MICHAEL CLAYTON
(On the bye week helping)

“Definitely. We’ve got a lot of guys banged up right now but we were able to get a lot of guys back. As well, we were able to have some teams in our division lose some games over the bye, so that helped us out a whole lot. If we finish off strong we control our own destiny. We’re really excited that the playoff atmosphere is coming around right now. The weather’s getting chilly and we’re pretty excited about the feeling that we’re getting right now.”


QB JEFF GARCIA
(On how he feels coming back from the bye week)

“I feel good, I feel great. Coming back, I feel very motivated, very energized, very excited to get back to doing what we need to do and just get back on the field. I think sometimes when you take a break like that it gets you out of a little bit of rhythm. It is important to make sure that today and tomorrow are good work days for us. It is important for me to get back out there and get moving around, throwing the ball, running around, and all the things that I feel like I need to do in order to be where I need to be on Sunday.”

(On looking ahead to the second half of the season)
“I just really look at this second half of the season as a great opportunity for this team to really establish what we have been trying to work on for the first half of the season. I think that we take this one week at a time, I mean, that is the old saying but it is true. We can’t look too far ahead of our next opponent. Atlanta poses a difficult challenge in the sense that we are playing there. Their defense has been a strong point for that team. They have played really well defensively; they have given themselves a chance to win football games because of their defense. That is something that we are going to have to face this week. I am not even really concerned about what is ahead of that, it is all about this week and that is what I have to focus on, and that is where all the energy has to be.”


RB EARNEST GRAHAM
(On using three running backs)

“It gives us a lot of options. Especially with the type of speed of Michael Bennett, the versatility of Michael Pittman, the way I am running the football right now. It gives us a lot of options, a lot of versatility. I think it is going to be hard for teams to really prepare for that. To keep a fresh back in the game all the time, I think you are going to see it help Jeff [Garcia] a lot too, to keep a fresh back in the game, and have an extra option at receiver. I am sure you can find ways to give us all game time, because that is how our coach works. I think it is going to help our offense a lot.”

(On being in a groove as a running back)
“Yes that definitely carries over. Just the momentum, the confidence, knowing where the offensive line is, the chemistry, and the expectations going into the game are already done with. It definitely carries over game to game.”


WR IKE HILLIARD
(On if the Bucs have noticed other teams having trouble coming out of the bye)

“I don’t think we even worry about what anybody else is doing. We just have to look at what we did in the past. We haven’t played well after the bye week ourselves, so that’s something that’s been addressed. We’ve given it enough attention to where we know what we have to do. We know what situation we’re in and we just have to go out and play ball.”

(On if the team has been recharged by the bye week)
“We’re not worried about that. We just take it one day at a time, one game at a time. We understand in the back of our minds what situation we have but we don’t want to get outside of that box. We have to take care of Atlanta. That’s the next game and it’s the biggest game of the year. We’ll go no farther than that.”

(On if the Atlanta defense is playing well)
“Yeah, there’s no question. They have guys we have to account for: [John] Abraham, [Lawyer] Milloy, DeAngelo Hall’s going to play good football. We’re going to have to account for those guys – not to take anything away from the rest of the crew, but they are guys who are going to get them going. They’re going to bring a lot of heat.”

(On the Falcons feeling like they can win)
“They feel good about what they’re doing, regardless of what the record says, regardless of how things haven’t worked out I’m sure as well as they want it to on the other side of the ball. Offensively, we know we have a tough defense to face and we have to meet that challenge.”


G DAVIN JOSEPH
(On the second half of the season)

“Oh, yeah, it’s going to be exciting for us. The second half of the season, we have a lot of divisional games and a chance to go on a run and make the playoffs.”

(On Atlanta getting on a roll)
“Their defense is playing really well. I think that’s the strong point of their team right now. Hopefully we can keep the ball in our hands and do our thing on offense.”

(On the Falcons’ defense getting a lot of takeaways)
“Yeah, a lot of turnovers. They’re making a lot of things happen – getting after the quarterback, stuffing the run, doing things of that nature. They have talent, there’s no doubt about that. Now they’re just playing well.”


RB MICHAEL PITTMAN
(On how he’s feeling)

“I’m feeling good, and very excited to be back. It’s going to be a tough game this week, but I’m feeling great. I’m just going to go out and try to do my part to help this team win.”

(On if he is surprised to be back this early)
“No, not surprised at all. I told everybody I was going to try to get back as fast as I could. I did everything to get back. I did acupuncture, all that type of stuff. All the vitamins and things to get my ligaments right in my ankle, and all the help from the trainers, the people who have been here. I’m not surprised. I keep myself in shape, also, and that’s a big way to heal a lot faster, because my body is already healthy.”


G ARRON SEARS
(On facing tough competition at Tennessee)

“It’s not the NFL. The NFL is All-Americans each week, week-in and week-out.”

(On how much John Wade has helped him)
“Oh, amazingly. I don’t know if I’d be here right now if it wasn’t for him. He’s a guy who knows the offense like the back of his hand. Whenever I’m in the wrong, he’s able to set me back into place, week-in and week-out.”

(On having such a young offensive line)
“Wade helps everybody across the line. We’ve got four guys under 24 years old starting on this offensive line, so it’s big to have an older guy with his knowledge in the middle.”


TE ALEX SMITH
(On what stands out about Atlanta)

“Their defense is playing extremely well. Their defense is playing about as good as ever, especially with those guys on the outside. They’re good in coverage and [John] Abraham is putting that pressure on as well. So it will be a tough challenge.”

In Football, RESPECT is never given freely by your opponent. It must be TAKEN from them...VIOLENTLY

Great players cost a lot of money but help win games. High-priced players - a byproduct of poorly run front offices with bad scouting departments - only cost a lot of money.
"Our greatest glory consists not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall."
Oliver Goldsmith
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