Below is a collection of quotes from One Buc Place after Wednesday’s practice. Find out what Lovie Smith and some select players had to say regarding the team and their upcoming game against the Buffalo Bills.
HEAD COACH LOVIE SMITH(Opening statement)“Day two of preparing for the Buffalo Bills, which is good. I think just about every day that I’ve come in here, I’ve talked about good practice and we’re getting better. I’m definitely going to say that today. Our football team got better today. As good a practice as we’ve had. Good work. Hot. [We] finished up with our two-minute offense and defense. We do see progress being made, but we still have a long ways to go. This time of the year, you have to eventually – we’re at 90 [players] right now, we need to get down eventually to our 53-man squad. So you have to release some good football players. Letting Lavelle Hawkins go, he did a great job for us here. We feel like we have a lot of receivers, especially young receivers, that we like. Again, it’s always tough when you tell a player he won’t be on our football team anymore. But it’s about the rest of the group. We do have a couple of injuries. Can’t give you a lot more information on the injuries. Steven Means was able to go through team stuff today. Beyond that, Alterraun Verner continues to get better. Making progress. The rest of our guys, we didn’t have anyone off the top of my mind that came back from their injuries.” (On defensive end Michael Johnson’s injury)“Mike has a knee bruise. It’s not anything serious so he should be good to go this weekend at least.” (On if the evaluation process for the players has been completed)“The evaluation process for most of the players has been done. This week, the group that plays is telling you an awful lot. Telling our guys, telling our team what we think up until this point. But we haven’t had extended play. We’ll play into the third quarter with our starters this week. But to answer your question, most of it has been done, but every year, there are some positions in the latter part of our roster that will be decided by some of the play this week and of course next week also.” (On making the decisions for who makes the roster and who does not)“My comment was that, in the end, there aren’t a whole lot of hard decisions, and I’m going to stay with that. It becomes clearer and clearer as we let players play. You have to earn play time by what you do on the practice field. Then, it’s about performing in the game. And they are telling us. So again, right now, for the most part, we know. We want to confirm a couple of things.” (On if he likes the NFL expanding the practice squad to 10 players)“That’s an easy one: a coach getting more players. I think it’s a great thing. They add more players. There’s a lot of young players that just aren’t ready for whatever reason. So I’d say it’s universal in all the coaches of course loving that decision to add two more football players to our squad. And we have a good group of young players. You can’t keep everyone. There are a lot of players that deserve to stay in the league, and as many as we can keep in the league and continue to develop, it’s a good thing for our game.” (On if the changes to the practice squad will change any of his roster decisions)“Yes it will. It affects a couple of our players. A couple that come to mind. As much as adding two football players, the requirement on how and who all can stay does affect [my decisions]. Our roster, in my mind, has probably changed just based on that decision.” (On how he will handle playing the starters in the third preseason game)“I’m telling them, ‘You have this much time.’ The guys that start the game will play into the third quarter. They know that. From there, we’ll kind of see how it all works out. They do know that. We’re trying to hit on all those different situations. Right now, we’ve done it for the most part. But now, it’s about players learning how to come in at the half, us to make adjustments, and then finish up strong in that third quarter. So this is a big part of the evaluation for us to get ready and I look forward to this team each year.” (On what he is looking for from the starters in the third preseason game)“Improved play. When you come in as a new staff, we can’t set a whole lot of lofty goals. Based on what? We’re starting from scratch right now. So for us, we set the bar against Jacksonville. We wanted better play last week; we got that. Now we need to take another big, big step as I see it. I mean, we’re playing the division champs to open up the football season. We need to play our best ball. We need to be peaking about that time. So we need to see something that we really like this week.” (On the play of Michael Johnson during the preseason)“I’ve seen good play from Michael. But the dominating play that I feel like we’re going to get? No we haven’t seen that. But we haven’t seen that from any guys on our football team. Gerald McCoy has been dominating. But I would say, around the league, a lot of the players that will end up playing great ball during the season haven’t played this great ball during the preseason. So I don’t look into too much from the preseason on how guys play. One thing, of course, is stay healthy and get the defense down and we’ll turn them loose from there. Very pleased. No disappointment in Michael Johnson.” (On the advantages of practicing in the heat)“It has to be an advantage for us. I’m new to the area. You feel the heat. It does make a difference. Green Bay, Chicago, those outdoor teams have an advantage over warm-weather teams that come up. We feel like we have the same. Not feel like – we do. It will affect our game and we need to be ready. That’s why – I understand other people and other teams, what time they practice during the day early to avoid the heat – no, we’ve got to get ready for it. Only way to get ready for it is to practice in it. So we’ll continue to do that and it will be an advantage for us.” (On how many tight ends the team will carry)“I liked this question. A little, ‘Have I figured it out?’ I better know. Have I figured it out? Yes, we have, and I’m assuming you would like for me to tell you that right now too? I would like to. I’m just going to say tight end is a valuable position and you can’t have too many tight ends. I can probably say that about O-line, quarterback and every other position too. I’m not trying to go around your question, we have figured out – we have an idea about how many we want to keep and we like all of the tight ends we have right now. Again, I don’t think there are hard decisions to make that tell you who stays on the team.” (On defensive end Adrian Clayborn switching to the left side)“It’s a tough transition to make, but he has just a nonstop motor and it seems like wherever we put him, he finds a way to be successful at that position. With [defensive end] Michael [Johnson] coming in at that position, this was an option for Adrian and he’s accepted that role and again hasn’t missed anything since I’ve been here. The guy has just shows up like the [Energizer Bunny]: he just keeps going. We’re expecting good play out of him. I like to think that every person that gets sacks, [there] has to be some effort involved in it and he does have that. He has ability too, it’s not just [his effort]. I just don’t think an effort player gets sacks just based on that and relying on you just working harder every play than your opponent. That is a part of his game though. I think when you have some talent and you have a non-stop motor, then you have something special.” (On defensive tackle Gerald McCoy and starters playing into the third quarter)“When you say how important he is to the team, that’s giving the impression that – we have to get better and a part of our progression to get ready for Carolina is for our starters to play into the third quarter. That’s just a base part of it, if injuries happen – we had practice hard at practice today too, that just happens. We’ll watch Gerald as much as we can and when the players aren’t out there live on the field, we have benches on the sideline for them to rest, but besides that it’s just nonstop go.” (On McCoy taking the step to being a next-level player)“For me, again, it’s the first time I’ve been around him and all I’ve seen is just a player at another level based on what I’ve seen. I don’t know what he’s done in the past, but I just know I heard he’s a great player coming in and he was a good leader, now I’ve seen it firsthand. All of those things are true, great player by his play, he’s played dominant ball. No one works harder than him out there and as a coach ‘Gerald we need to get this done,’ you can’t coach him too hard, you can’t critique or criticize him too hard. He’s going to lead us to a lot of wins. Love – every team would want Gerald leading them.” (On bringing back a dominant pass-rush)“In my mind nothing has [changed]. Of course nothing has, I still believe as much now as I did then, that you can’t just rely on [blitzing] – and we will blitz. A misnomer a little bit is that we’re a Tampa-2 team and that we never blitz – we’ll blitz. I like to blitz about a third of the time, but we want to be able to rush and get pressure based on a four-man rush and blitz because we want to, not because we have to because we can’t get pressure up front. Our guys know that when in doubt if we don’t get the call in, the defensive line assumes that it’s green, which means just pass first rush up the football field. Until we can do that, we’re not going to win any football games. Players know that and we insist on it.” (On what position is challenging in determining who to keep)“Well then I would have to get into details on who we really like and I didn’t say much on tight end either, I just kind of answered the question on tight end. When you have 90 guys in camp, there are a lot players that you like. A lot of those guys you only have to end up cutting that you like and I don’t think it’s any different at any position really. We like someone at all of the positions – there’s a reason why we have four quarterbacks here. There’s a reason why we have two kickers, two snappers; we like more than one guy.” (On defensive end Da’Quan Bowers hurting his chances to make the football team by not practicing)“I think every day you don’t practice you’re hurting your chances [on making the team] and we’ve seen enough to like Da’Quan a lot, but the old reps that he’s not getting, someone else is getting them. The best way to beat your competition sometimes it’s just to stay on the field. You can’t get Walley Pipped. Da’Quan is trying to get back and again I think he has a future in the league whether it be as a defensive end outside or a more of a third down rush-guy inside.” (On cornerback Rashaan Melvin)“He’s shown us enough to like him a lot, good size. When he has played a tough guy, as a cornerback, if you see a cornerback on our roster, when we come out with our final roster of cornerbacks, if a guy won’t tackle and he’s not a tough football player he’s not staying. ‘Cover corners,’ that’s an insult, that’s a bad name. I wouldn’t say that about him, I would say that he’s a tough guy, he will tackle, he’s got good size, but again there’s a lot of guys like that on the sideline. He has to figure out a way to stay on the field and right now he’s losing that battle.” (On how concerned he is with Verner and Jenkins not practicing)“Verner was out there today, so he’s back practicing. I was concerned and he’s missed a lot of work, but he’s picked up and it’s not like these ACL injuries that the guys are dealing with. With muscle injuries eventually they get okay. Have they missed some valuable work? Yes, but I’ve found that you can make it up. They’re not rookies and for the most part, man coverage is man coverage, tackling is tackling. Some of the basic things that in the end it comes down to, they’ll be able to do. (On the chances Jenkins plays)“No, zero chance.” (On long it will take Verner to get into game shape)“I don’t know exactly how long, I just know how long we have. We have this week and next and then it’s game week. He’s on pace, he practiced the entire day today out there so he’s back, he’s healthy now. We’ve just started the process really with him, don’t expect him though to play like the rest of the guys. This is his first preseason game, that’s how we’re looking at it with him, play some this week, not as much as the rest of the guys. He got more reps today than he did yesterday. He’s right on pace the way we planned it for him to be practicing this week, which he’s doing.” DEFENSIVE END ADRIAN CLAYBORN(On what the defense wants to accomplish this week)“Everyone knows the [first team] is going to be playing a little bit more, we just want to put a good showing out there and do it for more than 20 plays.” (On if the team is ready to face Carolina)“No, I don’t think anybody is ready, any team is ready. We still have a lot more to do to get ready as far as getting together as a unit. We’ll be ready though.” (On the defensive line working as one unit)“I think it’s getting better. It’s showing up in the games, but I think we still have a long way to go.” (On wanting to improve on his numbers)“I think with this defense, they’re just going to allow us to use our natural ability. I’m not really putting too much pressure on myself besides just going out there and playing hard and letting the rest handle itself.” (On the importance of the defense setting the tone)“I think it’s important. We just want to get back to playing the way they used to play by getting takeaways and controlling the game. I think that’s the way it should be played anyway.” (On getting double-digit sacks)“That’s the goal I think every defensive lineman should have and I think it’s reachable this year for everybody.” GUARD ONIEL COUSINS(On the offensive line taking time to come together)“We’re spending a lot of time together and not just at work, but off the field. I think doing stuff like that really builds our camaraderie up and we’re definitely getting better and trusting each other. That’s what we used to do in Cleveland, we hung a lot off the field and we had a pretty good offensive line for the most part in Cleveland.” (On why it takes longer for the offensive line to come together)“I personally think that we’re getting better. I think that we’re getting closer, I think we’re starting to trust each other. I think the technique is getting better, and that’s main goal.” (On what the next step is for the offensive line)“The next step is to go out there and beat Buffalo on Saturday and to play great as an offensive line and get after it – that’s what we’re here for.” CENTER EVAN DIETRICH-SMITH(On what he brings from Green Bay that could help the offensive line improve)“For me, I played with a lot of good players up in Green Bay, I know how they go about their business, I learned how to watch film with them on my own and those kind of things. I’ve seen how we’ve been successful up there and from that standpoint I tried to bring that down here to these guys and show them some of those things, but for the most part once we get the five guys solidified I think that will definitely help as far jelling and then being able to move forward in that process.” (On how close the offensive line is to coming together)“I think we’re taking steps in the right direction, that’s for sure. I was just saying having some consistency with the guys being next to me is definitely starting to help because we just started learning how to communicate with each other nonverbally, not always having to make lengthy calls, you kind of just say one word and the guy just knows what you mean. Just little nuances where you’re not always having to talk so much at the line, everything is a little more nonverbal and you’re not tipping your hand. Defenses aren’t going to be able to pick up on your calls and those kinds of things.” (On this week’s game being a good measuring stick for where the offensive line is)“Like I said, having the consistency with the guys next to you and being able to work with them throughout a week. I remember even when I was in Green Bay, even if one guy got hurt, having that week where you were playing next to that guy, knowing his nuances, you were able to pick up on it pretty quick. The consistency of knowing who was going to be there and they’re going to be there day-in and day-out for you, that’s going to help with the process.”
Mark Cook currently is the director of editorial content and Bucs beat writer and has written for PewterReport.com since 2011. Cook has followed the Buccaneers since 1977 when he first began watching football with his Dad and is fond of the 1979 Bucs team that came within 10 points of going to a Super Bowl. His favorite Bucs game is still the 1979 divisional playoff win 24-17 over the Eagles. In his spare time Cook enjoys playing guitar, fishing, surfing and family time at the beach. In addition, Cook can be found in front of a television or in Doak Campbell any time the FSU Seminoles are playing. Cook is a native of Pinecrest in Eastern Hillsborough County and has written for numerous publications including the Tampa Tribune, In the Field and Ya'll Magazine. Cook can be reached at [email protected]
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