Everyone is accounted for on check-in day at training camp? "Yeah, everyone is accounted for, and that's exciting. That's the way we wanted to kick off this training camp. We wanted to get everybody in here and give them a chance to compete. That was important for us this offseason and for CAA and Josh Freeman to understand the importance of getting to camp on time. It's a big deal. I give them a lot of credit for making sure we got a deal done."
Arron Sears isn't here. Do you expect him at all in camp? "I'm not sure. As of now we've put him on the reserve/did-not-report list. Right now he's able to come, but we're leaving that door open right now. If he comes and reports Arron would count against our 80-man roster limit, but right now he doesn't."
When was the last time you talked to Arron? "It's been a while, but I've been in constant contact with his agent. I actually spoke to him this morning to let him know what we were going to do if he did not report."
What is your level of frustration with this? "No frustration. For us, I'm not frustrating. I'm just looking out for Arron and we're hoping everything comes together for him and that he reports. That's probably the best way to say it. We want to be there to support him, and that's the most important thing from our standpoint, and there's no frustration on my part."
But it hurts you from a football standpoint. "It does, but that's truth, that's not frustration."
Has there been any change or progress made with whatever Arron is going through? "We're in constant communication with his agents, with his father and also with Arron, to make sure we're all talking and finding out exactly what is the best thing for Arron."
Nobody is limited tomorrow in any way except for Greg Peterson? "We'll have a few guys that will be evaluated practice by practice. We're excited that Carnell has gotten himself back in shape. It's a fantastic story for him. He may be somewhat limited in what we do in terms of how many practices he does in a row just to be smart with him."
You have a crowded backfield. How will you work with that? "That will work itself out in training camp. We'll let the guys compete. For what we want to do offensively I think it's a great problem to have that we have several qualified running backs."
What differences will Bucs fans see in this camp compared to the previous seven years? "I think one of the biggest differences they'll see is right off the bat we're practicing in pads, whereas in previous years we wore shorts just to get going and loose. I think that's where the competitiveness will show up. I think you're going to see a different mindset and team, and a different feel from our team. I think it's great we brought camp back to Tampa and it's great that we can reconnect with our fans in the Tampa Bay area."
Are you guys wearing full pads for both practices tomorrow? "As far as I know we're doing full pads in the morning and shells at night. I don't think we're going to have lowers on tomorrow night."
Is setting the tone early a factor – you saw what Raheem Morris did today with the conditioning drill? "Raheem is doing a great job in terms of setting the tone as far as what we're looking for from our football team. I think he did that today and the players responded well. I was happy with how the players ran and their conditioning."
Do you like how not many people are looking at this team predicting the Bucs to win the division? "There's nothing wrong with that. It makes our players feel loose and makes them ready to compete at different positions. As we prepare for preseason and regular season games it puts a small chip on your shoulder. Let's go out and show people what we're about."
There's been a lot of talk about Tampa Bay's unused salary cap space. What would you say about that and players not getting long-term extensions, like Barrett Ruud and Antonio Bryant? "We've done a lot of long-term extensions. We just made a commitment to our first-round pick for $35 million. We signed Michael Clayton to a $23 million contract. We signed Derrick Ward to a $17 million contract and Kellen Winslow to a $30 million contract extension. Antonio Bryant was informed from the beginning regarding our intentions and we talked to his agent all the way up to the final day we had. I think they understood our position. Barrett Ruud is a player we see as a Buccaneer, and we'll just let that play out."
If your rookie quarterback is better than the players he's competing against and he starts vs. Dallas are you okay with that? It wouldn't match up with the plan you had in May. "We'll let that play out as the preseason goes along. I'd say there would be more Mock Draft people disappointed than us because everybody thought he couldn't play. Raheem and I have spoken on this a number of times. The best plan is to let Josh sit and learn. We'll let all those guys compete on the field, but the best plan is to let Josh sit and learn."
Do you have enough reps for the quarterbacks to all have a chance? "Yeah, we do. Having been "The Turk," I've been in a situation where I had to tell guys we're letting them go, and sometimes they believe they weren't given a shot. But a lot of players now understand that OTAs do count for something. Practices count for something. Just because a player isn't getting a lot of reps in a game doesn't mean he's not getting evaluated on a daily basis."
When you think of leadership what players come to mind? "Jeff Faine has done a good job on offense and along the offensive line. Earnest Graham has stepped up and really pulled guys together. I've seen Michael Clayton and Antonio Bryant, too. There's a lot of guys. On defense, Barrett Ruud has stepped up. I think you'll see more from Angelo Crowell. Will Allen has stepped up. Jermaine Phillips, too. I think everyone will see that at practice. Chris Hovan has always been a leader, so I don't see him as a new one."
You didn't mention any of the quarterbacks as leaders. "I think a lot of the times quarterbacks lead by their play. I think a lot of the leadership qualities for quarterbacks are build and earned in practice and the games."