Below are the quotes from head coach Lovie Smith and select players following Thursday afternoon’s practice that wrapped up training camp. Tampa Bay will host the Dolphins on Saturday night, marking the first home game of the Smith era.
HEAD COACH LOVIE SMITH(Opening Statement)“It’s kind of the countdown for us for camp and for the game this week, which we’re looking forward too. The rain has cooperated with us throughout camp. Every day there’s been a threat of thunderstorms and lightning, but we’ve for the most been able to get everything in. [We’re] just kind of finishing up, really. I feel like we’ve had a good camp. We realize what’s at stake this week. We want to play a lot better. Any time you open up the preseason or regular season at home, it’s kind of special.”
(On who won’t play Saturday night)“We’re not that far along in the process. Alterraun Verner, Mike Jenkins, those guys get better each day but they won’t [be able to play]. Besides that we haven’t ruled out a lot of people right now. [Charles] Sims will not play, I should’ve said. It’s unfortunate with his ankle injury, but that happens. So I know those three won’t [play]. You saw him in the walking boot, that’s normally not a good thing. He won’t play in the immediate future for sure.”
(On newly signed defensive end Larry English)“You can never have too many pass rushers in general. We talk about getting pressure with a four-man rush. I remember Larry when he played at NIU. [He’s a] good football player. Injuries have kind of held him up a little bit. But he’s what we’re looking for, speed, edge rusher. I had a chance to see him work out a little bit yesterday, so we feel like he might be able to give us something. We’ll try to give him a couple reps this weekend.”
(On being able to see safeties Mark Barron and Dashon Goldson play together against the Dolphins)“I’m very eager to see those two together. Dashon Goldson has done a lot of things, but it’s a little different playing in the game. I know he’s excited about playing as much as anything. When you’re healthy, of course we want to get them in [the game]. I’ve been very impressed with [Goldson’s] football knowledge. Right now that’s all we’ve been able to do, talk ball and see a little bit of what he can do in practice.”
DEFENSIVE TACKLE GERALD McCOY(On the end of training camp)“Training camp has been good and different, definitely different from past years. But everybody’s starting to bond and come together. We still have a long way to go. We still have three preseason games. But I like what I see so far.”
(On the criticism of the offensive line)“Get over it. It’s one preseason game; we have three more. Let’s just hypothetically say they look terrible all of preseason, who cares? We’re out here working and we know what we have to improve on, and we’re just going to keep working until we improve. I think it’s a little over-hyped, I think people are a little too worried after one game. But we know what we have to do, and I guarantee you, if anyone’s worried, we’re a little more worried than the fans because we’re the ones out here playing.”
QUARTERBACK JOSH McCOWN(On what he’s learned from this team so far)“More than anything, we learned that we’re a group that’s willing to work. That’s what I found out. The guys came out every day and put the time in and got quality work. Guys pushed themselves. Every guy on the roster is trying to help us get better, so I think that’s the most encouraging thing. When you’re starting out in a new system with a new head coach and all those things, that’s the main thing you want to make sure you have is guys that’ll put the work in. I think we set that standard for ourselves this camp. From the highest paid guy on the roster, down to the last guy, everyone worked hard and that’s what you want to have.”
(On playing the first home game on Saturday)“I’m excited about it just from the feedback we’ve gotten from the fans, and the support that’s been here at practice. I’m excited to play for these fans. Not only myself, but everybody in the locker room is excited about being able to go out and give these fans something to be proud of and rally around.”
SAFETY DASHON GOLDSON(On the new scheme)“It’s a new scheme, new faces, and it’s a new attitude for the most part. So I’m excited to be out here and plug my role into this defense.”
“[The scheme] fits us well. There’s a mixture of both worlds for us. We can play the pass as well as we can play the run. So I think he’s going to mix it up with us to showcase our talents.”
(On the emphasis on creating turnovers)“We’re excited about it. [Lovie Smith] put pressure on the defense, but it’s good. Like they say, defense wins Super Bowls and that’s what we want to do. We come out here and work every day and work at it, stripping the ball, getting picks. We have goals every time we come out here.”LINEBACKER LAVONTE DAVID(On where the team is at right now)“Everybody just knows what they’re doing. It’s a new defense; everybody is learning a new scheme, a new system. These couple of weeks that we’ve been in training camp, things have been progressing every day. Hopefully by the time the season starts, everything will be where we want it to be.” (On how training camp went)“I think it went well. But we still have things we need to fix. I think we’re going to do that by the time Week 1 gets here. We’ve still got a couple of preseason games for us to see everything – we’ve still got time.” (On how this new defense will allow him to elevate his game)“I think I can make an impact in all areas. Whether it’s forcing turnovers or making tackles, tackles for losses, all type of tackles. I’ve still got a lot of learning to do. I’ve still got some film to watch to be at the top of my game.” (On his expectations for the defense this year)“Every year, you want to improve on what you did last year. So for the defense as a whole, we want to top that number in all categories. At the end of the year, we want to be the No. 1 defense.”
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