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August 16, 2009 @ 11:51 am
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Morris Talks Injuries, Performance

Written by Charlie
Campbell
Charlie Campbell

Charlie
Campbell

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Bucs head coach Raheem Morris updated the Bucs injuries on Sunday. C Jeff Faine and WR Michael Clayton are expected to be back this week. Morris said he was pleased with the team's tackling and run defense in Saturday night's game, and discussed the play of his quarterbacks and offensive line.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Raheem Morris updated the injury status of his team the day after the Bucs 27-20 loss to the Tennessee Titatns. Morris said that center Jeff Faine (groin), wide receiver Michael Clayton (hamstring), linebacker Angelo Crowell (hamstring), and wide receiver Joel Filani (hamstring) will return to practice this week.

Punter Josh Bidwell will be evaluated more through this weekend about the long-term status with his hip injury. Kicker Matt Bryant will be evaluated on Thursday for his status to play next Saturday against the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Morris updated the team's injuries that occurred during the game against the Titans. Safety Will Allen (shoulder) will be evaluated later in the week to see if he can play against the Jaguars. Wide receiver Dexter Jackson (ankle) will also be examined later in the week. Cornerback Torrie Cox (hand), tackle Demar Dotson (knee hyper extension), cornerback Kyle Arrington (groin), linebacker Rod Wilson (hamstring), linebacker Donte Nicholson (quad), and linebacker Matt McCoy (ankle) are all day-to-day with their injuries. Morris said that wide receiver Antonio Bryant is recovering quickly from his minor knee surgery. Bryant is off crutches, and is not expected to play in the preseason games.

Morris discussed a number of topics with the media from Saturday's game. The topic is bold below followed by Morris comment.

(On the game in general)

"Against a team that won 12 or 13 games last year, and you go out in your first preseason game, and first defense and perform like that, and stand up and play the run like they did, and did a lot of really positive things. We came out in the beginning on offense and we struggled a little bit early with blocking some of their monsters up front, and then we started to get them blocked a little bit down the stretch. They played a lot of their starters throughout that first half. People started to pick it up and we got some movement. That was encouraging. It was encouraging for the first time out, and I was excited."

(The offensive line performance)
"Early on we saw Earnest [Graham] get the ball a little bit and couldn't find any holes. We missed a couple, and what I am going to stress to the team I haven't told them yet so I shouldn't tell you but I'm going to anyway, the backside cut off blocks. It is hard to execute in practice because you can't cut them in practice. We got better as the game went along as you have seen some of the guys execute and take one more step. That is why you saw [Clifton Smith] hit some of those holes, and you saw Derrick Ward get a few holes early when he got in. Earnest got the bad lick of it because people we're just getting used to it, and when Byron Leftwich got in. Luke [McCown] didn't get hit because he had the two starting tackles play with him. Next week the two starting tackles will be playing with Leftwich, and they will come out with Leftwich like they came out with Luke this week. Then we had [Xavier Fulton] go in there and big Dotson go in there, who held their own. They did a good job, but they got Lefty hit a little bit. The big man got hit a little bit, but one of my other talking points today or tomorrow for the team is you can't let those guys get hit. We can't let those guys get hit. That is good experience for some of our young guys. Some of those guys are going to be swing guys for us. Some of those guys have to be the backups and rotate through along the line of scrimmage. We got to create some depth at the offensive line position. The first group, the only thing that they really struggled with is those cut blocks we were talking about. Faine wasn't there. [Sean] Mahan and Davin [Joseph] that is what they have to do is the backside cut off blocks, but when you are talking about getting bodies in protection-wise there wasn't a real problem. We did identify a few blitzes in protection, which was good in blitz protection. We had a hot throw out there early in the game. We missed it. It was the first play of the game, and could've been a positive play for Luke [McCown]. Those are the little kinks that you work out, but for the most part it was mainly positive."

(Tackling and run defense)
"For the first preseason game, I don't know if I've seen us tackle that well. Maybe it is because of the physical camp, but for the first preseason game I was very pleased and ecstatic about the way we tackled. I don't the actual count, but when we meet with the defense at six tonight we will know how many missed tackles we had exactly, but if I had to guess I would say it was less than double digits. That is where you want to be. You want to be less than 10 in a game as a unit, and I think we were. I'm not sure, but I don't remember many missed tackles. I remember the one, the big one (linebacker Adam Hayward in the backfield on running back Javon Ringer's 36-yard touchdown run). Again tackling, hustling, physical play, that was there."

(Is the defense ahead of the offense?)

"In the preseason and in the beginning of the regular season the defense is usually always ahead for the most part. Really when you talk about the offense, you had [Byron] Leftwich coming in and throwing a touchdown, and you talk about [Josh] Freeman if you take away the hitch, shoot, he played pretty well. You take away that one bad throw on the hitch, and I know you can't, but that might have been a bad call by me. You can only go to the well so many times. When you throw the ball in the flat in the preseason some body is going to get antsy and jump it. But those guys played well. Josh Johnson came in and played well. The only time we struggled was in the beginning with Luke and Earnest. We'll come back this week. Byron will get his first start, and then everybody will love Luke because he'll come in and do well."

(Will you have a decision on a starter next Sunday?)

"That week of preparation. The decision might be made on Sunday, but you got to have that decision done going into that third game. That third game is when we game plan. That's when you say this is what they do, this is what we do, and not just the little of we took these eight plays from what they did last week, and go against it in these 12, 12, 12 settings. Next week is a game plan. It is like Dallas kind of, it is not the same, but you want to give them a look at what some of this stuff looks like. You want the quarterback to have a feel what it is going to look like against Dallas."

(Is the loser in the starting quarterback competition automatically the backup quarterback or is he fighting with the others for a roster spot?)
"Yeah I think they are all fighting for spots in my opinion. I gave all those quarterbacks, I don't if Josh [Johnson] got equal reps, but close. I think I timed it out, I think we could have gotten another series for Josh Johnson, but this thing is up man. One, two, three, I don't know. I'm not ruling anybody out. I know you guys are ruling people out, Josh Johnson, but I haven't in my mind. I might not have given him the reps, like I told you, but the backup quarterback got to be the guy who can do it and he has to be able to do it (without a lot of reps). When you think about Josh Freeman and Josh Johnson, I wasn't able to do my young guy periods the last week because of all the nicks and bruises. For those two guys to step in and have some success, and throw some pretty good balls, was pretty impressive because they haven't had a lot of practice. I might have given them a couple of periods at the end there right before the game, but the control, the poise, of both those young guys nobody felt like a shocker for me. It wasn't like ‘oh God I'm in the game.' It was like ‘let's go, what are we calling.' One time Josh Freeman had a communication issue and he called his own play. What we called was scrambled or something, but we ended up running a play and got seven yards. How did we get that out of that? I don't know whatever, but he called it. He called a run. He called a draw. That's stuff not everybody sees, but it was awesome."

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