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July 31, 2009 @ 12:50 pm
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Morris Ready To Embark On First Training Camp As Bucs' Head Coach

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The Buccaneers reported to One Buc Place for training camp Friday. New head coach Raheem Morris discussed his plans and hopes for the Bucs as they prepare for their first practices, which will be held Saturday. Read Morris' comments in this Q&A session.

Opening statement:
“All players are accounted for. Arron Sears is (on the) reserve/did-not-report list. We had a great conditioning test. The guys looked pretty good. The guys are coming back in shape, ready to run it. We’ll get the results from that a little later from (strength and conditioning coach) Kurtis Schultz. We have always threatened it in the past, but we’ve never run it. This goes way back from Coach (Tony) Dungy’s days. We’ve always threatened it when they get to camp. It’s a threat to make them in shape. I decided to run it. It was good. It’s a great chance to see where guys are. You can see who has been working out. You can see who has been kind of coasting. Guys sometimes like to come to camp at this level and get in shape in camp. I think next year, we’ve set a precedent for it. I enjoyed it and I think they enjoyed it. It was kind of like a little team-building right from the beginning.”

What happens to players who fail the conditioning test?
“I’m not going fine anybody who misses the test. I’m not looking to do that. We’re just going to make you run it every day until you get it. It’s 300-yard shuttles, 150-yard shuttles and 60-yard shuttles and you have to make it in a certain time. I don’t have the results yet.”

More on Sears:
“He did not report, so he’s reserve/did-not-report. That’s all I have for you. I’m really excited about (Jeremy) Zuttah. I’m really excited about the guys playing around him. We talked about this from the beginning. We talked about dealing with adversity. When people didn’t show up for OTA days … and having people step up and have a chance to evaluate those players. The sky is not falling because one man did not show up on this team. We’re going to keep going. Everybody wants to make it happen. There are high expectations on everybody.”



Morris was asked about Chris Hovan guaranteeing that the Bucs will make the playoffs this year, despite most media outlets forecasting a losing season in Tampa Bay:
“Realistically, I’ve got no problem with my guys saying that they guarantee a playoff spot,” Morris said. “If they are not here to do that, I don’t know why they are here. We’re here to win championships. You should be trying to win your division championship first, because that puts you in the playoffs. I’m not going to come in and say, ‘I want to come in second in the division.’ That’s not what we’re here for. We’re here to win our division. That puts us in the playoffs. I’ve got no problem with that. I’ve got no problem with the way he feels. We have very high expectations in our room. Those guys have very high expectations of themselves. There are doubters everywhere. We love that. We thrive on that. That’s great. Maybe we can sneak up on some people.”

Is the way you enforced today’s shuttle run with the players a sign of kind of head coach you’re going to be?

“I don’t know if that’s a sign of anything to come. I just felt like running the shuttle test. That’s what it’s about – finishing strong. It’s like we talked about from the beginning. How do you finish strong? You have to be better conditioned than everybody. That’s always how we handled the defensive backs room. We always joked that we had to be able to run all day. That’s what we wanted to be. Well, we have to be able to run all day as a team. We have to be able to finish down the stretch and finish strong.”

How else do you plan to assert your authority to the players in training camp?
“Hopefully I don’t have to assert my authority on most people. Hopefully I can dictate what I want, tell them what I want and I’ll get it. Now, we all know that doesn’t happen all the time, so you have to be able to do with that and different situations as a head coach. I’m ready to deal. I’ve got all these little things that the guys know about dating back to OTAs. I’ve got everything from surveillance to tape. It’s a lot of fun being a head coach and sitting around thinking about little things for the guys, nice little shockers. There’s nothing like seeing yourself leave the facility early because the head coach has you on surveillance leaving One Buc Place early.”

Has Cadillac Williams been cleared to play in training camp?
“Cadillac is ready to go. I’m just as fired up about Cadillac as you are. I know he looks great. He looks great today, knock on wood.”

Is anybody going to be limited to start camp?
“Everybody is healthy. The only guy that is going to be limited is [defensive lineman] Greg Peterson. He’ll be limited, but he should be fine in a couple of days. I feel very good about the health of the team. Greg has a knee injury and missed the mini-camp. He’s day-to-day.”

How excited are you to walk out onto the field tomorrow for the start of training camp?
“I’ve been getting that question a lot around town, and I answer it the same way. I don’t feel that excited of the season yet. I’m still evaluating, just like you guys are. We’re going to evaluate up to Tennessee and through the preseason. I’m guessing I’ll start feeling it when we get to Tennessee, but I’m thinking I’ll be really feeling it when we play Dallas.”

What do you need to establish or accomplish in these next few weeks?
“During the OTAs we talked about the timing and precision, and we did that. What are we talking about and stressing now? Our physical play. That’s what we’re going to do. We’re going to go out there in some pads and hit. We’ll have a few live periods, nothing crazy. We will have on pads a lot of the time in camp, hence the two-one process. We’re going to have our fundamental core beliefs still running, but we’re going to up our physical play a notch.”

What’s your timetable in terms of naming a starting quarterback?
“Usually that third preseason game is when you do a test run of your team. I would have to say that is around my timetable, it’s about the time when you have to make a decision. That’s when our starters will play three quarters of the game or half the game, whatever it’s going to be. That’s the time when you have to make that decision.”

Will the Bucs be wearing pads Saturday for the start of training camp?
“We’ll be strapped up and booted.”

Naming a starter going into the third preseason game or after it?

"I think when you go into that game you should know. That is when your team is going to play. That is when your team is going to figure out who they are going to be, or what you shouldn't do."

Giving each quarterback the same opportunity with practice reps?
"It is tough. It is hard to rep three guys. The older guys deserve the privilege to get the most reps in the beginning. The young guy (Josh Freeman) got his reps through the OTA days and got better. He was starting to get into the competition, and you got Josh [Johnson] who came on in the end there pretty strong. We got to find a way to be smart as coaches to get the reps that we need to get for each player to see what we need to see, so when we get into the third preseason game we can make the decision based on games one and two."

Does Freeman have a chance to be the starter in Week 1?

"As you know that doesn't happen every year in the league, the Matt Ryan and Joe Flacco story. For the most part it has been the Philip Rivers story. You sit behind a quarterback, a franchise makes a decision they move on, they trade Drew Brees. He breaks out then. It has been the Drew Bledsoe roles out gets smashed by Mo Lewis, and Tom Brady emerges and now he is everybody's headache. Tony Romo. I could keep naming those kinds of quarterbacks. Brett Favre getting traded to Green Bay and sitting behind the Magic man (Don Majkowski). That is the history of our league so that is what Mark [Dominik] is referring to. If you are being smart as an organization that has the most success, that type of quarterback model. Now you have your few exceptions. You got Peyton Manning, who steps out there and goes 1-15, then 8-8, and the rest is he's a headache for the rest of the league, so you have a couple of different approaches. This situation right now, when we had our conversations that is exactly what we said to each other. We'll get our guy and get him in here and let it play itself out, but here is the ideal plan. Now as you guys have seen in OTA days Josh became a problem, a good problem. We look forward to that. We'll make that decision and let you guys know. I'll make that decision."

Will you have different starters in the first two preseason games?

"Yeah. Somebody is going to start the first preseason game obviously. Somebody is going to start the second. I have to figure it out through practice and evaluation."

Are you going to engage the crowd tomorrow?

"You know I can't do the chicken like [Monte Kiffin], so I don't know if I'm going to engage them as much as Kif did, but I'm a crowd guy and the team is going to come out and sign some autographs at the beginning of practice, and sign some autographs at the end of practice. We got Killeen Mullins, who you guys all know, and she does a great job of involving a crowd. She might have it looking like a basketball game out there shooting stuff in the stands. She might shoot herself into the stands, you never know, but we are trying to involve the community. There is no doubt about that. The is the best part about bringing training camp back Tampa. That is part of having it out here. I don't know if you guys have seen the backyard, but it is pretty impressive. It looks like they picked up Celebration and moved it over here. That is the kind of facility that was built and is a credit to our ownership. That is a credit to everybody in this building, and everything we got going on. You guys too. That media room is pretty sweet. You got it like that."

What are your thoughts on the throwback uniforms?
"The creamsicle, I can't wait. I might get a retro Tony Dungy hat, and really make it look clean."

Will rookies sing to the crowd like they did at University of Tampa?

"I'm not a big hazer, and I'm definitely not a public hazer, so I definitely won't have my rookies sing to the crowd so I won't restart that tradition. I'm not going to do that. I didn't know about that one, but I'm not going to get into the public hazing. I'm not into hazing at all but I do like the occasional haircut, or dining room singing."

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