The Buccaneers practiced Thursday afternoon as they continue to prepare for their Sunday showdown with Carolina Panthers. Guard Jamon Meredith is questionable for Sunday's game and head coach Greg Schiano said the Bucs are hoping for the best but ready to move forward.
Can you tell us about Jamon Meredith and what has happened there?
“Yes, Jamon (Meredith) really unfortunately in the last period of practice yesterday somebody fell onto his leg and he hurt his ankle. Not sure if he is going to play Sunday or not. They are aggressively treating him and we will see. We just have to wait and see.”If he doesn’t go is it going to be Roger Allen?
“A lot of different guys that we are rolling through there and probably make a decision closer to game time. I hope it is Jamon (Meredith), but if not then the next guy who we think gives us the best chance to win will get lined up there and move forward.”Did Eric Wright have a setback we didn’t see him during the portion of practice we were able to see?
“No, Eric (Wright) was excused for personal reasons today. If he is healthy he will play Sunday.”Is that anything related to the previous incident?
“Just personal reasons I excused him from practice.”Can you speak about the job Daniel Te’o-Nesheim has done stepping up for Adrian (Clayborn) since he has been put in that role?
“I think Daniel has done a really good job. Before he was out into the fire, he worked his tail off and tries to do exactly what we coach him to do. Just gives great effort [and] is a joy to coach.”What have you thought of LeQuan Lewis so far you have not seen him too much in this league last couple of years?
“Yes, no one has. He is a rookie. So we are all trying to figure out what he can do. We didn’t have a choice on Sunday and he stepped up and did a good job. That should earn him more playing time this week. Let’s see how he does.”
Can you talk about Gerald McCoy a little bit and that hidden play making ability that he has?
“Well Gerald McCoy is very active. And that’s the thing like we have said from the beginning he has got a leap get off. Causes disruption in the backfield. Sure would he like to have a little more stat sheet production I am sure he would because he is capable. People are sliding protection to him and that kind of thing because he is that force. I have a feeling this second half of the year those plays are going to start to come. When you play as hard as he does those plays will come. He plays his tail off and he tries to do what we ask him to do and that’s what we really are asking our guys to do. Is try to be 1/11th of the scheme and go out and do it. Sometimes the play will come to you and sometimes they will come to other guys, but at the end of the day they are going to come.”Do you have to remind these guys not to worry about what the stat sheet says?
“Well, I think it is more just if I am happy with it. It is if it helps us win. That really is the ultimate goal. I think he can see how what he does helps us play better defense. We are not anywhere where we want to be, but without Gerald (McCoy) we wouldn’t be where we are. So he is an important part.”You guys have gotten interceptions in bunches this year and is there anything about the personnel in the secondary are guys being aggressive what is it that you think is the common thread there if one?
“Well, I think when you have interceptions it is always a combination of things. Number one is pass rush. There are a lot of ways to measure pass rush, but we measure it on disrupting the quarterback. Just marring the throwing hand if you can force a guy to alter the release by this much, 20 yards down the field it is this much. In this league this much is a lot of space. Our guys have done a good job especially I think with timely interceptions. When you really need one, they come up with one. So it is a combination of pass rush and then pass coverage. Guys doing their job. I think we have some instinctual guys back there. Especially in the back end we have some instinctual safeties that have made some interceptions. When corners make them in man to man coverage that is a rarity, but it happens. So spread around we need to keep making them because without them we are not playing good enough defense to win games. Now we start playing a little better defense, especially pass defense, then they are not as imperative. Again, you always go back to the turnover margin is the most correlated stat to winning. We got to make sure that we keep ending up on the plus side of it because when you don’t it is hard.”Can you talk about the type of season Ronde Barber has had at a new position and how important he has become?
“He has really done an excellent job and more than just his on field performance. Just a seamless transition. Never not even one gripe. Team guy and setting an example for the rest of the players. his professionalism [and] his experience, the way he prepares is so important for a young team like we have. And it is also so important at serving him well at changing positions. I don’t care how long you have played; he has never played safety until this year. To be able to go study it, learn it, and go do it as efficiently as he has is impressive. Nothing surprises me with him. I am glad he is on our team. Back when we first got here we didn’t know if he was going to come back. I am sure glad he came back. He has been a big help to me.”Are you surprised by the success of your offensive line given the injuries you have had?
“You are right in that it seems to be like we are rolling someone new in there every couple of weeks which is unfortunate. I think it starts with Bob Bostad and Steve Loney doing a great job coaching those guys. Then I think the players themselves. The guys the vets that are left on the line with Jeremy Zuttah and Donald Penn really providing solid leadership and getting the guys together. They work hard. I won’t get into whom, but there are guys in here at six in the morning with their coaches just watching extra tape and trying to learn the position. The ins and outs of it. It is not like they lucked into their performance. They have earned it. We got to keep earning it. Now if Jamon (Meredith) can’t play it is another new guy. So the old saying adversity reveals character [and] I think we have some guys there with some strong character. It is being tested for sure. This is going to be a big test to me. You look at-- this may be the best pure pass rush defensive line we have played against. All their sacks come from the defensive line. 20 of the 25 come from three players. So it is going to be a challenge. They do have some scheme sacks and things, but a lot of it is just their d-linemen out working other people’s o-linemen. It is going to be a battle for sure.”Are there other reasons for the lack of sacks and keeping Josh Freeman from being sacked?
“Well, what I said and then I think Josh (Freeman). I think the way he is performing and the way Sully (Mike Sullivan) uses the backs to help in protection. The tight ends to help in protection. Again, you do things in protection with the auxiliary guys. The backs and the tight ends. You move the launch point a little bit. The heart of it is those five offensive linemen battling their guts out and you add all that up and you have a chance to protect your quarterback. We know you don’t have to look very far. Guys that are top flight quarterbacks have gone down recently. We have to keep ours protected and that’s a big challenge this week.”
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