Head coach Lovie Smith addressed the media at One Buc Place on Thursday a few hours after the players reported. Below is a full transcript of the press conference.
(Opening statement)“Hope everyone had a great summer, I did. As I left last time I talked to you about you guys going to the Bahamas and different places, and I was so excited about my vacation spot, Tampa Bay. Our football team didn’t have to wake up this morning with an alarm clock or anything like that. It’s pretty special to finally get this day here. To see the players coming in last night, checking in to the hotel. Of course I haven’t seen most of them for a few weeks, a long period of time really. Just to see the excitement on their faces… these six months have gone by pretty quick, a lot of changes, a different look to our football team. All of that was geared towards getting to this spot. As we left, I asked the players to make a commitment. We can get a lot better during this break, starting off with all of us losing weight. We want to be a faster team, a leaner team and early reports say the guys did a great job with that. We put ourselves into a position to take the practice field tomorrow. So I’m excited about going out there with them. We have training camp battles coming up for roster spots, for starting spots, but for us as much as anything to continue our evaluation of our players. I feel like we’re going to be a good football team. I’ve gotten so much response from [the fans] about what they’re expecting from their football team, and that’s what we plan on giving them. A team that shows up each day, each week, giving great effort, playing hard, and making Raymond James a place where teams are afraid, and they talk that week about coming here because it’s so hard to play. So anyways, that’s where we are. Training camp is here. I haven’t had a chance to be a part of a training camp that’s right at your facility for a while, it’s good to see it set up out here. We want our fans to have a chance to see their team. Guys will be accessible for them, get up close and personal. For you, I hope you get a chance to know our players a little bit better, we’re going to try to make your job easy to let our fans see their football team.”
(On training camp message to players)“I know you and I guess players, you want something like this is what it’s about this training camp. But for me, I’m kind of the same every year, with kind of the same message every year. I talk all season about the man in the mirror, I’m a big Michael Jackson fan, which says everybody take care of yourselves, spend all your time with you and improving yourself. It’s just about having a career year. No matter how you’ve played so far, we need all of us to have the best year we’ve had, and it starts out there. It’s not a magic pill, it’s just hard work, going to work from today on, and that’s what we plan on doing.”
(On if his team is distraction free)“It’s definitely just about football. We have a new staff, and as coaches have said, we’re starting from scratch. Show us that you belong on the field, show us you belong as a starter force. And I think along the way, everything we’ve said has come true for us. As a football team, as a coach, yes you want it to be about football, and I feel like that’s what it will be about.”
(On the status of his players health-wise)“Well we had Carl [Nicks], Dashon [Goldson], and Mark [Barron] that missed all of the offseason, really. Two of the players, Mark Barron and Dashon Goldson, will be out on the football field tomorrow. Carl Nicks has been excused right now for personal reasons, so we haven’t seen Carl yet. I think the rest of the guys should be good to go. The first couple days we can’t be in pads, so we’ll run around in our underwear a little bit longer. But eventually of course you want to see the guys out there to get them back into the mix.”
(On Carl Nicks specifically)“He’s been excused today, and that’s about all I really know. He won’t be here today. We’ll be able to let you know a little bit more later.”
(On the unknown of a first-year team)“There’s a lot of unknown. All we know right now is what we look like without pads. We know about all the things we’ve done and that’s meetings, and what you can do without pads. But it’s a contact sport, we need to see them with [pads]. I mean it’s Tampa, from what I’ve seen this summer we play in the elements here too. So there is a lot that we have to find out about our football team still.”
(On if the team went through a conditioning test and how did it go)“That’s pretty personal questions you’re asking there. Some things, of course, we’ll keep amongst ourselves. But that term ‘conditioning test,’ I’ve never been one for big conditioning tests. I feel like we have our players here – they’ve been going through the program we’ve had throughout. And instead of us getting their muscles sore, we want them the first time we see them to be out there really out on the football field. Conditioning test-wise, it wasn’t much. And there really was no a conditioning test, per se.” (On if guys worked out on their own prior to reporting)“I expected that. And believe me, in order for us to have the type of football team that we expect, there has to be a lot of self-motivation like that. As we left with that break, I think the guys used that as an opportunity to really get better. Coaches can only do much. I mean, we’re 4-12. They’re tired of that, and they’ll do whatever it takes, really, to take this next step.” (On changes he has made since last coaching)“There are a few things. Most of the things I found out about, what we’ve done, I really liked – training camp and how we do training camp, the amount of contact, how long we’re on the field, what we do drill-wise, not much will change of that will change based on what I know and what I believe in still. So we’ll have contact. We’re not going to scrimmage every day. At first, you have to just kind of establish what you have training camp for and what you’re trying to get accomplished, goals. And that’s for us, No. 1, to find the best 53 guys and really 61 with eight practice squad guys. And just let the competition play out. But as you come to our camp, there’s not a whole lot of secrets. All 32 teams, for the most part, will be doing basically the same things. We just have different guys doing it.”
(On if there is enough time in camp to evaluate all that is needed)“I definitely think there’s enough evaluation for it. And after a couple days in pads, we will know an awful lot. As a general rule, you just look as a football staff – you have four preseason games. But normally, that third preseason game, we will have a game week routine going into that third preseason game. After that, we should know. The final preseason game, we will play some of the players that we’re maybe not quite sure about. But that’s plenty of time. The two weeks I feel like, of course, before the Jacksonville game we can get some good work done. But we’ll know then. That’s enough time. (On Nicks’ absence)“It doesn’t concern me. It’s part of training camp, part of life. During the course of the year, you’re going to have guys that have things come up where they can’t be here. Which you can’t do is just concentrate on that a whole lot. And everything is fine, and we’ll be OK with it. Just too many other things we have going on with the rest of our crew, the guys that are here right now.” (On his emotions of being back in Tampa Bay)“Just excitement. I know I’m not jumping up with pom-poms right now. But believe me, I’ve seen this day for a long time. We have. There’s a lot of us excited about getting out there on the football field, a lot of new faces that haven’t actually gone through a training camp here. For me, of course, in awhile, but to some of the players ever. I’m anxious to see exactly what we have as a football team. There are so many things that we like from what we did with our offseason work. But now, seeing the team come together. And as players start working out, you know pretty soon you’re in front of a bigger audience. So there’s a definite sense of urgency, which you like. And for me, as a coaching staff, we want a competitive camp and just let the guys tell us exactly where they belong. And then I don’t think the decisions are really that hard as far as who you start, who makes the ballclub. It will be obvious to all.” (On Nicks’ absence affecting the ability to evaluate the line)“Not at all. I look at it in general. When a player is injured, he doesn’t practice. You’re going to have that throughout. So you just move on. It’s a chance to see other guys. So it’s always about who’s there and who’s available to work out. Again, Carl missed all of the offseason. Dashon Goldson, Mark Barron – they missed all of the offseason. And we got other players a lot better. So with many guys, there are a lot of players we have to evaluate.” (On QB Josh McCown) “A decade, I haven’t quite looked at it like that. I was just thinking about that decade. That’s a long time. It is different, and Josh would be the first guy to tell you. He’s a little bit different. He’s just not your average guy that you’re talking about, as far as that’s concerned. As far as the new offense coming in, quarterback, Mike linebacker, they have to be assistant coaches, and they have to be really involved in everything that we’re doing. I think for Josh, he’s just excited still, even though he has been playing for a long time. Like most rookies, he probably had that same rookie feeling right now, which you want. And I can’t be truthful – I don’t know exactly how many years I’ve been doing this, a lot not now – we should all have that same type of excitement.”
(On what the ceiling is for this team)“Well, we are a 4-12 team. That’s the first thing we have to acknowledge. That’s where we’re starting. And that should give us a little more motivation. As for the ceiling for the team, I don’t know. All I’m going to talk to them about, what’s your motto, your slogan, it’s just daily improvement. And let’s see how good we can be. Let’s not put a ceiling on it. Let’s see how good we can become and how soon we can become a good football team. It’s about the daily effort. I’m really big on grading everything, every day, every play. It’s a plus or minus every play and for our players to just grade themselves like that each and every day. We like a player at every position and that normally leads to good things happening.” (On how he will measure success this season)“No, and as a veteran coach I usually stay away from those rookie questions a little bit. But seriously, no. I don’t. Goal-wise the goal is what we always have. From 4-12 to go to Phoenix. Destination Phoenix. We want to win the Super Bowl. I hear some snickers on that right there, but that’s our plan. Goal-wise, we’re going to talk about winning all our games at Raymond James. We want to win the NFC South and then let’s see where we can go from there. What record it takes to do that, I don’t know.” (On pressure to live up to past Bucs defensive success with this system)“No. The pressure, it’s there. But for us, you have to come in with high expectations. And as I talk about what our ultimate goal is, winning the Super Bowl, it’s all a process. But for our players, we have to set that ceiling high right away. To me it’s just as simple as that. The pressure to do well and be patient, yeah, we’re starting off as a 4-12 team. So judge us from there and see the improvement and let’s just kind of see where we go. To me it’s as simple as that. Players like Derrick Brooks, Derrick has been in the system and he knows. Derrick wasn’t a Hall of Famer right away. In 1996 Derrick wasn’t a Hall of Famer, they weren’t talking about us as a great defense then. Things did come around fairly quick and I just think our starting spot right now is a little bit higher up and we don’t feel like we’re that far away, but it’s going to take some time.” (On assistants developing relationships with the players)“Yes, that’s a part of it. And that’s what we’ve been doing. In the offseason, we spend an awful lot of time together. I think part of it is, you just have to see how guys react once we put the pads on. That’s what we haven’t done together. But every day that you’re together you get to know each other and you see each other in different situations. That just comes with the process as you go through it. For players coming in, training camp is long; it’s a long time before we play the first game and you just have to go through the daily grind. And I think most real football players like that.” (On the tight end position, vision for that spot) “Well, it’s not necessarily a fact that you can’t play three tight ends together. They all do things differently as you look at it. Brandon is more of “Y”, line of scrimmage; Austin Seferian-Jenkins can do both. Tim is more of an H-back. So they really have different roles and we will dress three tight ends each week and all three will play and it will be kind of fun to see where they can end up. But they give us a lot of options. And not just them. Luke Stocker, you can throw him in there also.” (On kind of environment you expecting from the fans)“If it’s anything like the response we’ve gotten, it should be and exciting place, the fans excited to be here and see their team for the first time. But we’re going to show up and hopefully it’s full, but for us it’s on the practice field and we’ve invited everyone to come. So hopefully people will want to see their team.”
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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