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10 December 2015

Buccaneers Quotes: Thursday, December 10, 2015

BUC BIT OF THE DAY: This season, the Buccaneers’ defense leads the NFL in lowest opponent rushing average (3.47 yards per att.), and ranks seventh in rushing yards allowed per game (94.7). Tampa Bay has allowed only one 100-yard rusher (HOU RB Alfred Blue).
Below is a selection of Tampa Bay Buccaneers quotes from today’s earlier media availability:
Head Coach Lovie Smith
Defensive Coordinator Leslie Frazier
Wide Receiver Vincent Jackson
Defensive Tackle Gerald McCoy
(Opening Statement)
“Injury list: Lavonte David hurt his ankle yesterday so we held him out of practice today and [Jacquies] Smith is getting better. Everybody else was able to at least practice on a limited basis. We are in pretty good shape.”
(On if defensive tackle Gerald McCoy was limited at practice today)
“Yes he was. Gerald McCoy, limited, hand.”
(On linebacker Lavonte David)
“Lavonte David, he has an ankle injury and he did not practice today.”
(On linebacker Bruce Carter’s opportunity this week)
“When you come in as a free agent and you don’t start right away some guys, that could affect them in a negative way. Bruce of course wanted to play all along but sometimes your roles change during the course of the year, during the course of a game sometimes. He’s been a good teammate, has done what we’ve asked him to do. Normally if you continue to work hard you get an opportunity to play. It just works out that way. That’s where we are right now. Whether we go Bruce, Danny [Lansanah], everybody moves up a slot right now. Bruce Carter is a good football player so we feel pretty comfortable playing him.”
(On contract extensions for free agent one-year deals the team signed prior to this season)
“Everything is day to day. I can’t tell you who has a long-term contract. I know Gerald [McCoy] and Lavonte [David] have them. I can’t tell you a whole lot more. It’s just about right now. I think guys, no one is thinking about long-term right now and they can’t be that way. That’s how we’re looking at it.”
(On being nervous as a fan when McCoy, David are not practicing and linebacker Kwon Alexander is unavailable)
“It’s not totally true. Gerald McCoy is limited. There’s a difference between limited and not practicing. I would be concerned if my favorite players aren’t practicing and if they have been here long enough they know I’m going to wait until Sunday to kind of see who plays. If a guy is practicing on a limited basis I’m still pretty pumped up about it. Unless someone has been ruled out – which no one has been – if I’m a fan I’m pretty excited about this Sunday and can’t wait to get there.”
(On the excitement of the fans with team being relevant in the playoff hunt)
“We feel like our fans have been super throughout. I think if there’s a bad product on the field, who wants to come and watch a bad product on the football field? We haven’t played as well as we needed to early on. Now we are playing better. We know in order for us to really make a push we need our fans with us. Raymond James Stadium, we need to have a home-field advantage. At the end of the game this past week, when we really needed it the most, we heard them. To answer your question, we’re excited that there’s excitement about our football team and we are going to have a big crowd this week. I believe we will.”
(On his confidence level that Tampa Bay will make the playoffs)
“You know I guess some people can take that big picture. To me, I’m just about the next game. Right now we’re trying to get to 1-0 in this fourth quarter [of the season]. That is occupying every thought that we have right now. There are a lot of things out there. We have to just think about play the best possible game, making improvements on last week. We didn’t playing a perfect game by any means last week. There are some things to clean up. We can’t wait to get out there again. Each week we see something different from our football team. If we just continue to take care of business each week, then later on we can talk about some of those things. It has to be tunnel vision for us.” 
(Opening Statement)
“Good afternoon everybody. Big game for us coming back at home again and we are looking forward to getting in front of our fans and hopefully putting together a great defensive effort against an outstanding offensive football team. It should be quite a challenge and one that we’re looking forward to.”
(On the depth of the defense)
“No doubt. Last year at this time it was a revolving door of bringing guys in during the week and having to play them on Sunday, whereas this year we’ve kind of had some guys all along, like we’re experiencing now up front, that have been working with us a little bit and they’ve heard the terminology. They’ve actually gone through some of the things that we do and what we’re asking of players so it’s a little bit different. Now we’re facing a little bit at the linebacker position as well. Fortunately we have some depth, we have some guys that have been with us for a while and next man up.”
(On New Orleans wide receiver Brandin Cooks)
“He’s really come into his own. He had a pretty good rookie year, but you watch him, now he’s a guy you have to contend with. You always respected the speed and quickness, but he’s more than just a vertical threats. He can catch those short passes and turn those into big plays. He’s a talented young receiver and we’ve got to try to control him a little bit on Sunday.”
(On New Orleans placing running back Mark Ingram on the Reserved/Injured list)
“Mark was having a very good season, both catching the ball and what he does in third-down blocking as well as running the ball. He was having a very good season, but they’ve got some capable guys – [Tim] Hightower has had some good years in our league, C.J. Spiller is an outstanding back so they have some guys that are more than capable. I don’t think we can let our hair down a little bit and say they’re not going to run the ball. They’ve got some capable guys who can run the football.”
(On what the one thing the defense is going to miss the most about not having linebacker Kwon Alexander available for the next four games)
“There are so many things he was doing well. His play-making ability is the first thing that comes to mind. He’s made a lot of big plays for us both in the run game and the pass game as well. You always want your playmakers on the field. Unfortunately, he won’t be with us this coming Sunday and for a few weeks. The playmaking ability, that’s the thing that stands out.”
(On if he has been pleased with the consistency of the pass rush over the last few weeks)
“We’re getting better. We came away with three sacks last week and I think we had three the week before mixing a combination of four-man rush and sometimes bringing an extra guy. I think that has helped us some. We are going to need it this week. Drew Brees is an outstanding quarterback as we all know. We need our four-man rush to really work for us. I think we’ve gotten better in some areas. Now, we’re missing some guys – not having Gerald [McCoy] last week, not having Jacquies [Smith] who had a big game against New Orleans the first time we played them, but the guys that have stepped in they’ve given us something, they’ve helped us.”
(On if the blitz packages are working well)
“So far so good. It’s been a plus for us and we’ll see what we need this coming weekend but it’s been a good complement to our four-man rush.”
(On how much closer to full-strength the defense could be on Sunday)
“We’re probably still going to be missing some guys. We won’t be where we want to be from a health standpoint, but that gives some other guys an opportunity. We’ll be close to having just about everybody back. There’s still a couple guys that we would like to have that won’t be playing in that ball game.”
(On if he is optimistic defensive tackle Gerald McCoy will play Sunday)
“If he’s able to get out there that would be a big plus for us obviously, but we’ll see. We’ll see how he does, if he is able to practice today or tomorrow. He’s going to have a big cast on his hand either way, but just having Gerald out there is a big deal for us. It’s still tough to single block him if he’s able to play.”
(On cornerback Sterling Moore bouncing back with a good game against Atlanta)
“I was asked about Sterling after the Colts game and it may seem as if he didn’t have as good a game, but some of those catches that occurred in that ball game, they weren’t just Sterling’s. We were playing some zone [coverage] in some of those situations and it may seem as if it’s the corner’s play, but it’s not always the case. He did a good job for us even in that game. The toughest play he had was a third-and-4 on their side. I think a guy ran a wheel-route and it was a contested throw and they made a great catch and a great grow. He’s been playing well for us and did a good job for us on this past Sunday. We moved him around with their top receiver, Julio Jones, and Sterling did a really good job against arguably the best receiver in the National Football League. We are going to need that again this week, speaking of Brandin [Cooks] and what he’s done for their offense. I don’t know if we’ll be matching him up, but he’s really helped our defense.”
(On why Moore hasn’t been in a starting role all year)
“When we evaluated him in the offseason prior to signing him we knew there was ability there. We watched him in a starting role in Dallas because of injuries they had so we knew there was talent there, it was just a matter of him getting acclimated to how we do things and what we’re asking of our players both at the nickel position and at the corner position. As you know we started him at the nickel early. As he’s grown and gotten more confidence in what we’re doing and what we’re asking him to do, his talent has shown up on the field. He has done a good job for us.”
(On Alterraun Verner playing the nickelback position)
“He’s getting better. It’s quite a difference going from outside to playing almost exclusively inside. It’s just a different feel all together. He’s gotten better and better at it. Even the calls on defense, you are asking him to do different things than you would if you were playing corner. He’s making progress and we’re going to need him to step up big this week because of the receivers that they do have.”
(On if Verner could be playing nickelback long term)
“He’s shown that he’s more than capable of playing the position for sure, but in this league it’s always week to week. He’s doing a good job for us and the focus right now is the New Orleans Saints and their passing attack.”
(On his message to linebacker Bruce Carter throughout the season)
“In his case, patience. There was a little bit of disappointment on his part when he wasn’t inserted into the starting lineup when our season began, but he just had to be patient. He’s been around this league long enough to know things can change in a hurry and we’re experience that now, where we are going to be counting on him to really step in and do a good job for us in a big way. He’s been a pro throughout this whole ordeal and has handled things extremely well. We’re looking forward to him playing well on Sunday.”
(On the possibility of Carter having a poor attitude)
“He could have, but as I said he’s been a pro through the whole situation. He hasn’t been a guy that’s been moaning or groaning in the locker room or on the field. He’s come to work every day with a great attitude and that’s why he’s here and that’s why he’s getting this opportunity now.
(On the depth of the team)
“I can’t say enough about it. Guys have been able to step up and fill those spots where they’re needed. That’s a compliment to our staff upstairs, our management and our coaching staff as far as putting in time – evaluating players, bringing in the right players that fit our system, that are good guys, that are able to come in and make an impact. It’s been very necessary for us unfortunately, but moving forward that’s what a lot of teams deal with – late in the year you’re going to have guys banged up, lose guys for the season, so you definitely have to have depth in this league.”
(On depth being one of the biggest aspects of building a perennial winner)
“Absolutely, the teams you see year-in and year-out being competitive, being playoff teams they are able to overcome those things, those obstacles as far as injuries go. Every team faces them. Those teams that can deal with that and withstand the nicks and bumps, they usually are the ones that are looking good in December and January.”
(On having wide receiver Mike Evans, tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins and himself in the lineup healthy together)
“It’s great. Obviously having all your weapons out there, all of your tools out there is always going to make you more dangerous. For us, we have so many guys that can make plays on this offense. Obviously our tight ends have done a great job, Cameron [Brate] has done a good job, Brandon Myers, Luke Stocker, everybody that has been asked to step up has done so and we’ve been able to bring in [Charles Sims], giving Doug [Martin] some spells and Bobby Rainey as well doing a great job on third downs. That’s the strength of this team, being able to spread teams out, give you different looks, run the ball against nickel defense and things like that. It’s going to be something we’ll continue to use going forward.”
(On being relevant in the playoff picture)
“It’s exciting. Obviously [we] haven’t had that opportunity the last few years here, but it’s in front of us. There’s still a lot of work to be done. Nothing is in ink yet. We’re just focusing on one game at a time. That’s the way we’ve approached it and to be here now, obviously the energy level is there. It has been throughout the year, but to really be in that conversation is a nice change.”
(On if players are sharper in practice because of the team’s relevance in the playoff picture)
“I don’t know if there is any more sharpness. I don’t know if there is much difference as far as the work goes. We’ve been working pretty hard throughout the year just to give ourselves an opportunity to get here, but it’s definitely something now that we’re aware of. It’s not something that we think is voodoo to talk about. It’s right there, it’s in front of us. It’s our opportunity, we need to seize it. We continue to talk about seizing the opportunity.”
(On quarterback Jameis Winston’s 20-yard run against Atlanta)
“It’s up there. Again, I said after the game, that’s one of the best plays that I’ve seen made. Obviously I’m probably a little biased being on the team, being on the field with him, but it really was a great play. Jus the awareness and competitiveness of keeping his feet going and thank goodness the refs didn’t blow that whistle, giving the play a chance to finish. Again that guy doesn’t surprise me. He’s making so many playing throughout the year with his legs and it’s kept us in a lot of ball games.”
(On how much fun is it as a receiver to have a quarterback that is willing to do anything to make a play)
“It’s exciting to go out there and know you have a guy calling plays that’s going to lay it all on the line. You see him sometimes after he hands off the ball, trying to run in front of linebackers as stuff. It’s pretty amazing. He’s a winner. That’s what he’s about, that’s what he’s done his entire life and for him to come in here, his rookie year, and get us at this level in the position we’re in now is a great accomplishment for him. We are all unsatisfied yet. There’s still a lot of work to be done and we still believe that we can do a lot of things this year.”
(On if last week’s game against Atlanta was a big step for this team)
“We’ve had a couple of those this year, where we weren’t on the positive side of it, but you look back at the first Atlanta game where it ended up having to go to overtime and we were able to come back and finish that game. Those are great experiences, especially being a younger team. Those are things you just can’t practice, being in those situations. We try to work on them throughout the week, but it’s different when the bullets are flying and you really have to make plays at the end of the game. Shout out to our defense, may it continue to be solid late in games the last few weeks and as an offense, we still think there’s a lot of room for improvement so we don’t want games to continue to be that close, but if they need to be we have the confidence that we can finish it.        
(On his hand injury)
“It’s just day-to-day. We’ll see what happens. I want to play. If they allow me to play I’ll be out there, but I wanted to play last week and that didn’t happen so we’ll see what happens.”
(On how a cast on his hand would affect him if he is cleared to play on Sunday)
“I played like that last year. Football is football. It’s crunch time and you got to go. No excuses. If I’m out there, let’s go.”
(On the depth of the team)
“I won’t say it’s one of the deepest teams [I’ve played on], I’ll just say guys are stepping up when necessary. When guys are asked to do certain things, they do it. Everybody is growing up fast, guys are learning how to be professional real quick. Guys are just getting the job done.”
(On being relevant in the playoff picture and what it’s like coming to work this time of year)
“For me, it’s an opportunity that I don’t want to let slip, but I approach every week the same, regardless of what the situation is. We haven’t had a shot to get in the playoffs in, really, three straight years. I didn’t care, I showed up to work the same every day. It’s just this is an opportunity you done want to let slip. With me knowing that, me not being in the playoffs, you just try to spread that throughout the locker room and on the field.”
(On how much he has been able to do at practice)
“I’m limited.”
(On New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees)
“That guy, I always say as long as he’s on the field they have a chance. As long as Sean Payton is their head coach they have a chance. Those two, that combination has been dangerous for years. It doesn’t matter how the season goes, when those two are combined there’s always a chance. They can put up numbers in a hurry.”   

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