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31 December 2015

Buccaneers Quotes: Thursday, December 31, 2015

BUC BIT OF THE DAY: Tampa Bay WR Mike Evans has totaled 2,158 receiving yards in his first two NFL seasons and needs 32 more to pass Larry Fitzgerald (2,189 from 2004-05) for 10th-most, 34 more to pass Gary Clark (2,191 from 1985-86) for ninth-most, 57 more to pass Sterling Sharpe for eighth-most and 83 more to pass Marques Colston (2,240 from 2006-07) for seventh-most receiving yards in a players’ first two seasons since the 1970 NFL/AFL merger.
                                                                         
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 Mike Evans
 
HEAD COACH LOVIE SMITH
 
(Opening Statement)
“Injury list: Da’Quan Bowers missed a day for personal reasons. Chris Conte and Jorvorskie Lane are sick. Those are the three guys that weren’t able to practice. We had a good practice today. It’s kind of winding down a little bit. Guys know there’s one more chance to show us something if they haven’t. We know what’s at stake, all of that, last game, last time to leave a lasting impression and it will leave an impression, how we finish up. We understand who we are playing. We have to eventually beat the Carolina Panthers, it’s as simple as that. Why not get a start on it for 2016?”
 
(On safety Chris Conte not practicing today)
“Yesterday we were just getting him back into the flow of things a little bit, he’s not quite there yet. We wanted to see how it would respond, he didn’t practice today so it tell you where he is.”
 
(On Conte’s play this season)
“I’ve liked what he’s done. Chris Conte is a good football player when he is on the football field. For the most part, he’s remained out there. We’ve seen flashes, we’ve seen signs. It’s a shame that he couldn’t play last week. We’ll see what’s his availability is for this week.”
 
(On talking to his players about having a safe New Year’s Eve)
“Yes, of course we have. If there’s something you want to do, in our situation you can do it next week. You have plenty of time to make plans later on, but you can stay focused and concentrate and do what’s right. Our players have done a pretty good job of that all year – being professionals about it. I expect the same thing tonight. Yes, we have mentioned it a few times to say the least.”
 
(On promoting players from the practice squad to the active roster and if he knows which ones will see playing time)
“Yes. Do I know? Yes, I do. I know exactly which one. Is that the question? To answer your question, yes we do know. I can’t of course, you understand, we can’t say it right now or wouldn’t say it right now. We moved those guys up, as I said yesterday, they’ve all said something that deserves an opportunity to move up. If we’re moving a guy up, too, we think he has a future. I liked our practice squad early on. When you’re on the practice squad a lot of times you’re on the look squad running their plays. I, of course, get a chance to spend a lot of time with them and some have been impressive to say the least.”
 
(On players being focused on the importance of this Sunday’s game and potentially knocking Carolina out of the No. 1 seed)
“I know Carolina is the No. 1 seed right now, but us doing that, that would be a bad reason to want to win a football game. We want to win a football game because we’ve lost three in a row and this is a division champ and we’re trying to gain on them. We need to win a football game, it’s as simple as that. We feel like we have as much at stake as they do, as much to play for as they do. That’s what we plan on doing.”
 
(On the importance of wide receiver Mike Evans’ production to the offense)
“It’s very important. Our passing game in general, of course Mike, but our tight ends, all of our receivers – defenses like to play defense when you can just try to knock out the run, but in order to do that you have to commit guys to the box. We have matchups and we have to win them. That one-on-one game we have to win, whether it’s Mike Evans, Donteea Dye, Austin Seferian-Jenkins, you name it, Adam Humphries, we need to win those battles when we get them and we will get them. It’s not like we’re going to run the football every time.”
 
(On some players playing their last game in Tampa Bay)
“It is always bittersweet feeling at the end of a season, whether you are having a great year or you’re not. You know the team, the way it’s intact at that time – the last game – it won’t be the same. Nothing stays the same, so that part is sad in a way. I don’t think you can go down that road an awful lot. When it gets to that last game you just say, ‘Man, I have one more chance to make a lasting impression for our football team or just someone seeing me in general.’ I think that’s the mindset most guys should take.”
 
DEFENSIVE COORDINATOR LESLIE FRAZIER
 
(Opening Statement)
“December 31st, happy new year to everybody. We’re ready to travel up to Carolina, 14-1. They’ve had a tremendous season and [have a] very potent offense. It will be a big challenge for us on defense with the way they’ve played throughout the season and the fact that they have so much to play for. Should be a good contest for us, a big challenge for our defense so we are looking forward to it.”
 
(On cornerback Johnthan Banks’ performance against Chicago)
“He did some good things at times. [We’re] always looking for the consistency in his play, but at times he was out there, he did some positive things that will allow him to get back on the field again this Sunday as well.”
 
(On why Banks has not played as much this season)
“I think there has been a number of different things. He’s done some good things for us in the time and he has had an opportunity, will have an opportunity over this past game and of course this ball game as well to show why he deserves to be in the mix in 2016. He’s done some good things at times. Just has to keep giving him opportunities and keep getting opportunities to make plays for us.”
 
(On the interception against Chicago getting called back due to a penalty)
“We’ve had that happen a few times this year, especially in this streak going back to the [Indianapolis] game. You just have to play through it. It happens. We have to be able to rise above it and come up with a takeaway somewhere over the course of the game. It was still relatively early in that ball game, so we had other opportunities over the course of the game and we didn’t get it done. To play this team, where they’re like plus-19 when it comes to the differential. We have to, on defense, take the ball away to give ourselves the best chance to win. We’ll keep harping on it and hopefully this week we’ll break through.”
 
(On what Tampa Bay can take away from Atlanta’s win against Carolina to make them successful on Sunday)
“Atlanta did a really good job to hold those guys to 13 points. I think that’s the fewest they’ve been at this entire season. What they did to them on third down was really impressive. We’re definitely going to take some ques from what they did and try to implement some of the things we do as well. No one else has been able to really slow them down throughout the course of the year, but we’ll try to learn from what Atlanta did and hopefully slow them down and give ourselves a chance to win the game.”
 
(On if the defense has not had takeaways recently because it has been forced to play more man-to-man coverage)
“We have tried to play quite a bit of man because of the type of games we’ve been in – so many close games. You have to mix in some man and even some pressure at times. I can’t just point to the fact that we are not as much zone [coverage] as we would like to be. We’ve had some opportunities and we just haven’t, sometimes, come up with the ball. We’ve had some dropped balls. We’ve had some opportunities to punch the ball out and we didn’t get it done or we’ve had, like mentioned a moment ago, a penalty at a critical time when it comes to a turnover. We just got to get it done. I don’t think there are any excuses other than we haven’t gotten it done. We’ll have an opportunity on this Sunday to get it done.”
 
(On how Carolina’s defense has helped their offense be successful)
“No question, and there ability on offense to run the ball as well helps their defense. They really do a good job of limited opponents’ opportunities and you find yourself playing from behind. Their defense has done a terrific job in taking the ball away and putting their offense in short fields and they’ve been able to capitalize and force opponents to get in the passing game. They thrive in those situations. It’s a formula that I think every defense in the league would like to implement and we’re trying to get to the point where we are taking the ball away better, putting our offense on short fields and even scoring on defense. We’ve done it periodically during the course of the season, we just haven’t done it consistently enough, especially in these last five games. We’ve had some stretches where we have gotten multiple turnovers in ball games. I think we had 17 games in a row at one point and we hit a dry spell of late. We just have to push through it. It happens sometimes.”
 
(On how he would evaluate the production of his defense ends this season)
“It’s been kind of up and down. Part of it due to the injuries with [Jacquies Smith] has had a lot to do with it. We’re really counting on him to come along for us. George [Johnson], his play has been a little bit inconsistent for us as well. Will Gholston has been pretty solid in the way we have used him at the end position. It’s been mixed. You are always looking for that one guy that creates a threat for the opposing offense at the defensive end positon. We’ve gotten some good work, [but] it’s an area where we want to get better at for sure.”
 
(On what he misses the most about not having linebacker Kwon Alexander available and if that has something to do with not causing turnovers)
“His playmaking ability is what we miss. It really stood out. I was looking at some plays even from the Chicago game in comparison to similar run plays that we have seen all season long. Just know that he would’ve been a positive factor. His playmaking ability, that stands out, his ability to lead by example, that’s a big deal, the way he played, he played so hard and so fast. It’s almost like an injury. That happens. We lost a guy, other people have to step up. That’s a part of the game that we are in. He’s a big part of what we do and we’re looking forward to getting him back. It won’t be in 2015. He’s not with us, so we have to play well without him on Sunday.”
 
(On if anyone comes to mind on defense that has made a big stride forward this season and has developed into the player they expected)
“We didn’t have a lot of aspirations for Jude [Adjei-Barimah] coming into this season and to do what he did for us during that spell – he’s not a guy that’s a throwaway either. We think he has a future and there are probably a couple other guys; Akeem Spence, before he got injured, he was doing some good things for us as well. He’s a relatively young guy, he’s been in the league a little bit, but he was really coming along after having some surgery in the offseason. Losing him inside, that matters. There are probably a couple other guys as well. Danny [Lansanah] didn’t have the opportunities he had a year ago because of Kwon [Alexander] and Lavonte [David] playing so much, but he’s a guy that can still play, just didn’t have the opportunities. There are a handful of guys, yeah.
 
WIDE RECEIVER MIKE EVANS
 
(Opening statement)
“Happy New Year’s Eve, everybody.”
 
(On what makes Carolina’s defensive backs so effective)
“They’re really good. Their front seven helps a lot, as well. Those guys on the back end can play, but their front seven is really the key. Those guys are some beasts.”
 
(On potentially matching up against Carolina cornerback Josh Norman)
“I’m excited. I’m excited for it, but I don’t know if I’ll see him or not. The first game, he didn’t match me so this game, I hope he does. It’ll be a fun game for me, our last game this year. They play a lot of Cover-3 zone, but they play a little bit of man [coverage] so maybe I’ll see him.”
 
(On what it would mean to win this last game)
“That would be great, that’s our plan – to get the momentum to go into the offseason. And we want to win, of course. You don’t want to lose. We’re going to go in there, this is our last game so we’ve got to treat it like a Super Bowl, I guess, and use this as momentum for next year.”
 
(On if facing a playoff-bound team is a good way to end this season)
“Absolutely. I was hoping that we could play against their starters and things like that, to be a more competitive and exciting game. They’re a really good team and if we can beat a really good team to end the season off, that’d be great.”
 
(On how proud he is to have fought through injuries and to have still performed well this season)
“Yeah, it has [been] a little bit up and down, but proud that I’ve maintained through it all and almost played every game. That’s good, I guess, if you look at it that way, but I have to be better and I will be better. It’s my second year, I plan on playing in this league for a long time, as long as my body allows me, but I guess I’m proud to a degree.”
 
(On the keys to remaining calm and not being verbal with the opposition during a game)
“That’s hard for me. I’m a passionate player and I’m a physical guy, but I’ve got to be smart. You’ve got to think about your teammates and things like that, so that’ll keep me level-headed. Thinking about my teammates and not hurting those guys.”
 
(On if the team’s record the past two seasons kept him from enjoying his personal achievements)
“I don’t really care how I do personally as long as I make all my plays and just help this team win. Two thousand-yard seasons, it is what it is. Anybody can do that. When I’ve got Jaboo [quarterback Jameis Winston] out here slinging the rock, I should’ve had way better numbers if we’re talking about that, but we’ll get to where we need to be next year, I feel like.”
 
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