The Buccaneers finished their fifth training camp practice on Wednesday after a full day off. The temperature was more bearable, and the crowd (season ticket holders only) was in full force. PewterReport.com compiled quotes from head coach Lovie Smith and a handful of select players coming off the field.
HEAD COACH LOVIE SMITH(Opening Statement)“I tell the guys always we don’t want a lot of fighting because in the game they throw you out of the game and that’s not good. As we get ready for the season we want it to be as game-like as possible. But, I tell them if you feel like you have to mix it up with a guy, fight him the way you would fight your brother; no cheap shots or anything like that. After that you’ve got to get back in the next play while you’re tired so we shouldn’t have a lot of that. Good work, today we put in our reds on—offense and defense—which is always a fun time. Once you get into the red zone you need to get touchdowns offensively and to get a take away down in the red zone really puts the offense behind the eight ball. Coming back from the day off you want the guys to be fresh, we don’t have a lot of injuries which is good this time of the year.”
(On middle linebacker Mason Foster)“I think in general just by position if our best players going at the wheel linebacker positions—that’s the reason Derrick’s going into the Hall this week—this has to be our special place and that’s the case with Lavonte David. That’s tough on Mason to have to play next to a great player and always be compared to a player like Lavonte. Mason Foster is a good football player—he’s made a lot of plays through, I like what he’s doing. He’s growing into the position. He couldn’t have a better tutor than Hardy Nickerson teaching him how to do it.”
(On rookie guard Kadeem Edwards)“Kadeem Edwards has [impressed me]. I could say the same thing for O’Neil Cousins, he’s had his moments. All of the guys really have. But for them it’s really about day-to-day work and just seeing what they’re doing. I haven’t seen pass rush yet, I don’t now how they did against that. We feel like we have a good stable of guys to choose from. As I said before, it will become obvious at the end based on all the work we have on who needs to start, who needs to play, and who needs to make the team.”
(On safety Mark Barron)“Mark Barron, he’s a top-10 pick. We expect big plays from him. He looks the part, he’s a good football player. I’ve been pleased, impressed with him. We know he’s a big guy and he can hit and play in the box. But for him it’s about developing his pass coverage skills, zone and man, and that’s what we’ve seen the last couple days. He’s had a couple of interceptions the last few days which is good for a safety.”
(On middle linebacker Dane Fletcher)“[He has] good athletic ability, good speed. A lot of times what you see, the players that are reckless and don’t mind hitting on special teams, they end up being good regular down players for us. That’s kind of the trend and the progression that you take. Saw the same thing in Dane, he has made a big jump for a guy that has never played the mike linebacker position. He’s taken control of the huddle with the calls, so [we’re] pleased with him. He’ll continue to compete with Mason for that job.”
CORNERBACK LEONARD JOHNSON(On his big hit at practice)“You’ve got to tackle well and do the small things. The most important thing is just to come out and compete and that’s my goal every day. Make the most of the opportunity I’ve been given.”
(On how physical the practice was)“Yeah. It’s been a long time since these guys put on pads and hit someone and I think being down in the red zone, the field is twice as wide as it is long, and it kind of forces us to get a little physical.”TIGHT END TIM WRIGHT(On his success in the red zone)“It was good work. Guys came out here and we had a direct plan from the walk through earlier and we just came out here and executed it and the defense made some good plays but as a whole team we just went out and executed.”
“Guys spent a lot of time in the meeting room going over plans and going over getting their mentality right so that when we came out here today, there was different levels as far as what guys were bringing to the field.”DEFENSIVE TACKLE CLINTON MCDONALD(On head coach Lovie Smith)“He gives a lot of respect. And a guy that carries himself like that, he’s going to get a lot of respect. He doesn’t have to say much to us for us to get the message. And his track record doesn’t hurt either. He’s a great coach and a great motivator. A lot of guys’ heads are up when he talks. It’s quiet in the room when he talks and that’s a sign of how much respect we have for him. And he respects us, He gives us encouragement out here, he gives us time off when we need it, when we deserve it, so he’s a great coach.”
(On winning a Super Bowl)“A few guys have come up to me and talked about it and [defensive coordinator Leslie] Frazier, asked me to speak about it as well, because he was on a Super bowl team. And a lot of guys get excited when you talk about it. You tell them what it takes and how it feels and when they come out here, they actually experience the struggle that you have to go through and that’s what it takes, and it takes a hard nosed tough team, a team imposing its will on the other and camaraderie and brotherhood. And even though we’re out here fighting, I’ve got an older brother, we used to fight all the time when we was kids. And he used to beat me up, but I love him to death. That’s the type of thing that goes on in football.”
KICKER CONNOR BARTH(On recovering from his injury)“I’ve been since Day one out here, since April, pushing it and it feels great. The main thing was getting back out here and putting the helmet and pads back on. I haven’t done that in a long time because I missed training camp last year, so that was the biggest thing. It’s just like riding a bike.”
(On what he will do this season)“I can do anything, I’ll do some kicking off this year, in the preseason at least. And it feels great. That was the biggest thing for me, doing the kickoffs, because that’s a lot stronger of a technique, but it feels great. Everything is right on target. Everything is 100 percent.”CORNERBACK JOHNTHAN BANKS(On how he feels about the Tampa 2 defense)“I love this defense; I played this defense in college. A lot of people said I wouldn’t fit, but I caught 16 interceptions and won the Jim Thorpe award in college playing in this defense, so we’ll see.”
(On wide receiver Mike Evans)“Mike’s getting better everyday, I can tell he’s getting better everyday. He was about like I was last year, like a deer in headlights. The game is slowing down to him, he’s getting back to his comfort level he was at A&M, and Mike’s going to help us a lot this year.”
(On cornerback Alterraun Verner)“Verner is a first class guy. He’s a lot different than the vets I had last year. Verner is like a Harvard grad to be honest with you, I like him a lot. His IQ, his knowledge of the game, and life itself, he’s a very smart guy.”
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