Bucs head coach Jon Gruden on his team’s overall performance: “I am very happy, obviously, with a lot of the plays tonight, particularly early in the game, outside of the penalties. We had a couple of sluggish plays offensively with miscommunication, but we came out ready to play. I don’t have any news with regards to injuries.”
Gruden on whether he feels the running game has improved: “Yes, I feel better about it. It doesn’t guarantee us anything, but we have been committed to it. We like to be committed to it, but we need to get results.”
Gruden on the significance of false starts on both the defense and offense: “It is big. We felt good coming in here tonight. We had two third-down plays where Mike Clayton and Brian Griese weren’t on the same page, which hurt us, disappointed us, but our defense started extremely fast. They were dominant early.”
Gruden on Thursday night’s game being a momentum builder: “It really is. You feel a little better tonight. You feel, obviously, not as good last week and the week before. Preseason is what it is; spring training, an opportunity to evaluate certain phases of your scheme and certain players within your scheme and try to keep the right guys. I will say this about the game tonight, it really puts a lot of things in perspective. We are just lucky to have a chance to play the game, given the hurricane and what is going on in this country. Who really cares about football at a time like this? It was a great way to end the preseason. We are just pulling for everyone who has been hit as hard as they have been.”
Gruden on the kicker position: “We have two NFL kickers here. We have two guys who can kick the ball. They have proven that. I realize it is the preseason, but I have never been around two guys who have had more head games played with them – my wife maybe, but not these guys. We have tried everything we can to try to confuse them, to keep them off balance, to put pressure on them, but every day they have come out there and responded, but unfortunately we can’t keep them both. Somebody is going to get a guy that we don’t keep that is going to be a heck of a kicker.”
Bucs QB Chris Simms on the preseason overall: “I thought it was a pretty strong preseason for us. No major injuries. One thing I can say is the offensive line. I thought they had a great preseason, from really the start of camp until now. They had an impressive preseason, in the running and passing game both.”
Simms on his own preseason play this year: “I definitely had two good games in a row. I’m not going to say I had four good games in a row either. I know I wasn’t quite as sharp as I could have been those first two games, but I didn’t play bad by any means either.”
Simms on his confidence after his performance: It calms you down. That’s probably the best way to describe it. Knowing that you got out there and you made big throws, and that if you do get your number called here in the regular season, you know you did it and you can just go out and play.
Bucs FB Mike Alstott on his touchdown: “It felt good getting some live carries. One was good for four yards and getting at the goal line and seeing at a live pace and scoring.”
Alstott on the preseason overall: “I think we feel good. I think we’re going to eliminate the penalties. I think that’s hindering us a little bit. Overall, we’ve got a lot of things to work out, but so far tonight, it looks good.”
Bucs RB Cadillac Williams on if he’s ready for the regular season to start: “Yes. I am ready for the regular season. I can’t wait to play four quarters.”
Williams on the offense putting up 10 points in the first quarter: “That’s the start we want to come out with. Coach Gruden always stresses about starting fast. That’s exactly how we want to start. We want to start with a touchdown.”
Bucs RB Eanrest Graham on his preparation: “I just prepared myself mentally. I didn’t do to much thinking this year because I had everything down. I was always the first one on the field, and the last to leave. I kept myself in shape. I studied and am on top of everything. I think just getting prepared mentally ever day gave me an edge. Doing well everyday, you make some strides and it shows up on the field.”
Graham on being on the active roster after practice squad years: “It’s not something you can think about. I learned not to concern myself with that. You never know what’s going to happen. The only thing I concerned myself with is to get up every day, focus, and get better. That’s what I did.”
Bucs WR J.R. Russell on playing in front of the home crowd: “It’s not regular season, but it’s still good to come home and play in front of the home crowd. We gave them what they wanted, we put up a lot of points tonight. Things happen for a reason. For whatever reason I ended up here, playing at home, which is a blessing. It’s not just about coming here and playing, we still have to perform and do the things we need to do to win.”
Russell on if he feels he’s solidified a roster spot: “Oh yeah. I always have been confident in my abilities. Everybody has seen what I’ve done in college on Thursdays and Saturdays. My thing is to make plays. I tell myself ‘Make plays every game’ and that’s what I do.”
Bucs WR Joey Galloway on getting his first punt return of the preseason and if that’s going to be a habit: “I don’t know to be honest with you. I always try to get one in the preseason. Unfortunately, it was a fair catch situation but at least I got to catch one. I just really do it to let the coaches know that I’m ready for it. Whenever they need me to punt return, I’ll be ready.”
Bucs DT Anthony McFarland on the defensive performance: “Obviously we took some steps forward tonight. We’ve been a little static in the preseason but tonight we took some steps forward. So, we’ve got to feel good about that and hopefully we can have some good days of practice started and get ready to go to Minnesota.”
Bucs CB Juran Bolden on playing in front of the home crowd: “I guess all the Tampa guys stood up today. J.R. (Russell) had a nice touchdown catch, and big Drew (Andrew Williams) came in and had a nice sack. We’re fortunate to be back home. A lot of players in the league don’t get a chance to play in their hometown and I’m just blessed. My career has been kind of long and I’m here now so I’m going to make the best of it.”
Bolden on the game next week vs. Minnesota: “Come that first game, I think this team is going to be rocking. We’re going to go in full-tilt. Coach Gruden is asking so much for the defense and I know what he expects from this defense. All guys are coming in and we’re taking this on our shoulders and going to play the kind of ball we want to play.”
Bucs CB Ronde Barber on his interception: “We’re continuing to feed Mike Tomlin’s family with all the turnovers in the secondary. We’ve been showing the defense. We plan on setting plays. We had two three-and-outs and one one-and-out, seven points total for us, which is a great way to end the preseason.”
Barber on how he feels about the preseason: “I think it’s been as good of a preseason as I’ve ever had. I’ve been healthy for the first time in a couple of years and I’m excited about it. It’s always a long offseason but this one’s been particularly long, considering how we ended last year. I think everybody came in a little rejuvenated, a little excited, especially myself. I’m ready to go.”
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