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10 September 2015

Buccaneers Quotes: Thursday, September 10, 2015

Below is a selection of Tampa Bay Buccaneers quotes from today’s earlier media availability:
Head Coach Lovie Smith
Defensive Coordinator Leslie Frazier
Defensive Tackle Gerald McCoy
Wide Receiver Vincent Jackson
Running Back Doug Martin
Cornerback Alterraun Verner
(Opening Statement)
“Injury list. Mike Evans is getting a whole lot better and [so is] T.J. Fatinikun. Both players are making progress. Neither was able to practice full or anything like that today, but they are getting better. Beyond that Thursday practice. Yesterday was the first time we had been in full pads in a while. [We] wanted to see how the guys would come back from a tough day yesterday. Another tough day today, but they worked through it. [We are] making progress. We’re not quite Tennessee-ready, but we need about one more good day and we should be ready to go.”
(On if players who can’t practice on Wednesday or Thursday will play on Sunday)
“As a general rule you would like for guys to practice all three days. If they can’t practice a day there are some question marks. If we have a good football player that doesn’t practice all week and he gets up Sunday morning and says, ‘Hey Lovie, I’m feeling good’ - we have a history with him, he’s going to play. As we go forward, that’s what we will go with each week.”
(On if he is mindful of having Evans healthy for the whole season and not try to rush him back too soon)
“Always. First off, I would never jeopardize our players, period. If there is a question on if we think a player isn’t ready or he hasn’t been cleared by training staff, it’s not even part of the conversation. A guy doesn’t go out there until he feels like he is ready to go. Sometimes you can be released from the training room and from our medical people and you just don’t feel like you are good to go, [then] we won’t have him go.”
(On if running back Doug Martin is going to be a key to victory throughout the season with regards to having a rookie quarterback and young offensive line)
“I know about overestimating it. In order for us to have success this year, we need to get our running game going. We are going to rely on the running game. We get off the bus, we would like to know we can run the football – getting off the bus or in our case, showing up at Raymond James Stadium. Doug Martin is our starting running back. I don’t see any reason why we should think we can’t run the ball. Doug has had a great offseason and is ready to go. We do need to establish the run.”
(On what he likes about his defense and what he expects from them)
“We expect the same thing each week – pretty much what we expect from all three phases – we would like to score in all three phases, specifically talking about defense if we can’t score we want to take the ball away. Third downs are very important. Just like we talked about the running game being important for us offensively, we can’t let them establish the run. They would like to establish the run. There are so many areas that you need to play well in. We don’t want to give up any big plays. We want to have explosive plays on the offensive side. We are just looking for maximum effort each play. We want to get to a point where people, when they come and play us, are talking about how physical we are, how hard we play. That, along with the great home crowd, which we are expecting – last year the crowd showed up, we didn’t we plan on changing that this year.”
(On the offensive line not being prepared to play Cleveland’s 3-4 defense during the preseason)
“We will never be unprepared when we take the field. Whether we play our best ball or not, that’s not the case. Did we spend a week on Cleveland? No, you’re not going to be prepared as you would on a seven day week. No excuse for how we played. We didn’t get the job done. It’s as simple as that. We don’t make excuses.”
(On if he sees similarities between his second year in Chicago when the team went from 5-11 to 11-5 and this year’s Buccaneers team)
“I think you draw on all your experience in every situation. I started in the NFL in 1996. I think we’ve seen just about everything you can see. We’ve had second-year teams that really made a big leap. I think as a general rule, as we talk about this football season, you establish where you are the first game. There is marked improvement normally that you see the second game of the regular season. For us, we would like to say the same thing on our second season of ball. There’s no reason for us to think otherwise. We have a few injuries, but we have made improvements throughout. Now we have to take it to the field and I believe we will do that. That’s what our field, yes, has shown. It happened in Tampa. I went to St. Louis they were pretty established at the time and Chicago, yes the second year we made marked improvement and stayed that way for a long period of time. That is our plan here.”
(On how much keeping five running backs keeps the teams commitment to the run game)
“I think it helps, but when you say five running backs – a fullback and four tailbacks. Normally we are going to dress three tailbacks and a fullback. We are committed to it. I think if you have a fullback on your roster you are committed to the run, which we are. That just can’t be talk. We have to establish the run. That just opens up everything. We’re not going to start passing the ball 60 times a game. That’s not us.”
(On if Evans not playing will affect the game plan)
“No, it can’t. We can’t completely change our game plan like that. Our game plan is based a lot on Mike and if Mike is able to go, of course, we’ll play to his strengths but we can’t run an entirely different offense if Mike can’t go. Louis Murphy is capable – he is. As far as whether it’s Russell Shepard, Adam Humphries, whoever – different flavor. Mike, Vincent [Jackson] and Louis, big guys. Now, we can have good size on the outside and have a little more quickness on the inside. We’ll just lean to it a different way if that’s the case.” 
(Opening Statement)
“Good afternoon everybody. [It’s] an exciting time getting ready to kick off 2015 regular season. A lot of excitement amongst our players. [We] had a good day yesterday and hopefully we can build on that and have a good day today as well and just keep moving forward. There is a lot of excitement in that locker room for our players.”
(On what makes him think the defense will continue to improve and possibly become a Top 15 defense)
“I think just some of the things we saw last year – the way our guys did when it came to points allowed, what we did in our rush defense. We finished in the Top 10 in that area. Just some of the things, the foundation was, kind of, laid and then what we’ve done this offseason as well. The familiarity with our players and what we asking them to do and how we want them to do it. All those things contribute to why we think we will be an improved group. We’ve added some pieces. We think adding Henry Melton should help us. Adding [Tony] McDaniel should help us as well. Having a new middle linebacker who, although he’s a rookie, that will help us. We think our secondary is deeper now. We think we are a little more talented in the secondary. We have some reasons to believe we will be better across the board.”
(On his toughest memory of facing a rookie quarterback who did well against his team)
“This being the opening game of the season you got to think there are going to be some jitters throughout, not only for rookies but for veterans also – first game of the season. It’s still pro football. There are opportunities for rookies to succeed. There is a reason why you are drafted in the first round and that high in the first round. We just need to do the things we have to do on defense. [Tennessee’s] young quarterback is very talented and we will have our hands full on Sunday.”
(On if he thinks Tennessee quarterback Marcus Mariota will run the ball more and use the read option)
“It wouldn’t be out of the question. We’re trying to prepare for as many things as we think we might see. You can’t practice everything, but we want to make sure we are prepared for the things we think they might end up doing. We will have to adjust during the ball game. I’m sure there will be some things that we didn’t expect that we are going to see, especially being the factor this is the first game of the season. With a new quarterback, maybe different play calling, there will be some things we will have to adjust to along the way.”
(On the experience among defensive backs and if that depth is important when dealing with injuries)
“You’re right about that. Injuries do happen and you have to have some depth. We lost Mike Jenkins in the first game of the season. That really hurt our depth. We are deeper this season. Adding Tim [Jennings] for sure helps us. Hopefully Mike can stay healthy. We have a good four-man rotation now with Johnthan [Banks], with Alterraun [Verner] having a couple years of experience. We are probably as experienced as any team in the league from a secondary standpoint, especially at corner. That has to help us. We have guys who played in the system with Tim, with Chris Conte. Now Alterraun and Johnthan have a year under their belt. All those things should help us along the way. You still have to be able to pressure the quarterback. Those corners will be the first to tell you that. We think we are better a year later.”
(On if he thinks the pass rush is better than last season)
“It depends on where our defensive ends are. That will determine that. We think adding Henry [Melton] inside along with Gerald – we’ve got the best defensive tackle in Gerald McCoy in the National Football League – the best three-technique. To add Henry that is going to help us with our inside rush. Now it’s a matter of what we get on the edge. If we can get production on the outside, our pass rush should improve.”
(On what linebackers Jeremiah George, James-Michael Johnson and defensive end Kourtnei Brown can contribute)
“Probably more in auxiliary roles, more special teams type. Just a short window to try to get them up to speed for some of the things we have been doing going all the way back to OTAs. They are working hard to get a grasp of the defense and what we are asking them to do. We’ll see where they are on Friday and try to make a determination about who’s up and who’s down. They are working their tails off to get things down. Hopefully they will be able to contribute when we line up on Sunday.”
(On how confident he is in having rookie linebacker Kwon Alexander call the defense)
“Based on what Kwon Alexander has done through training camp and these preseason games once we inserted him in the starting lineup, we are excited to see him play. There are going to be some ups and downs for sure, but we think over time, over the course of the game and over the course of this season he will just get better and better. With Lavonte [David] out there and with Danny [Lansanah] out there, those guys will be giving him support along with the rest of the guys around him. We are confident that he is going to do a good job for us. He’ll just get better as time goes on.”
(On if linebacker Lavonte David will have the radio in his helmet)
“We are going to leave it with Kwon to begin with. I should take that back. We are going to be talking about that over the next 48 hours, but [having Kwon with the radio is] the plan. He did a good job with it in the preseason.”
(On what he has seen from defensive tackle Gerald McCoy that make you think he has taken the next step and in what areas does Frazier think he can improve)
“I think he’d talk about those impact plays, those splash plays. The sacks are great and he was on the verge a season ago of being a double-digit sack guy before prior to being injured. The area that I know he has been focusing on in training camp and OTAs as well is coming up with those strip fumbles, those sack fumbles. Being able to come up with that game-changing takeaway. If that can happen we can get multiple numbers in that area [it will] take his game to the next level, take our defense to another level. We all know what takeaways do to a team, so to be able to get that would be a big plus for us. He is going to be great against the run. He still is going to win against most guards he plays against if they ever try to block him one-on-one. Now, once he gets back and gets the quarterback in his grasp, can he get the football out?”
(On what he has seen from Mariota that has caught his attention)
“Just watching him on tape, it’s the same things people saw in college – the mobility. That stands out. He is a very mobile guy and has good accuracy with football. Seems to be a poised player. We’ll see how things work out on Sunday when we get to some live, four-quarter action, but based on what we seen in the preseason there’s a lot of things we’ve seen in college, his mobility stands out.”
(On what parts of the defense he likes the most)
“Out of the defense? All of them. The great thing about this defense is that we have a lot of guys who have played in this defense before. When a head coach comes in, he lays a foundation of how his team is going to be run, whether that’s on the field or off the field. How his offense is going to be run, his defense, his special teams. Well, the foundation is laid. Last year at the beginning, we were trying to figure out what that was. A lot of guys out of place, a lot of guys trying to make plays instead of doing [their] jobs. The defense we play in is very simple but very broad at the same time. The job description is small, but you have so much to do at the same time. We figured that out probably Bye Week-ish – from the bye week on, we started to pick it up. Now you’ve got a lot of guys who played this system last year who are starting to become vets, then we brought in guys who have played in this system. So when we hit the ground, we hit the ground running in the spring all the way through training camp and we expect it to show up on Sunday. So every element of this defense – I think we have playmakers at every position. This could be a huge year for us defensively.”
(On needing to have more sack-fumbles and reaching double-digits sack totals)
“Impact sacks, man. Getting the sack is great, getting [the quarterback] on the ground is wonderful, but our job, defensively, is to score and get the ball back. Coach [Joe] Cullen always talks about impact sacks – sacks that can change the game. I had one last year against Chicago. You get a sack-fumble, we get on the ball and we get points out of that. That’s the type of play that needs to happen, not just from me but from the defense in general. Just getting the ball back to our offense or score. We have a great young quarterback who’s a playmaker. If you put the ball in his hands, he can make some plays. So any opportunity you can to get the ball off the quarterback or take it away from the offense, you want to do it.”
(On whether the first regular-season game can be called ‘must-win’)
“We didn’t win a game at home last year. None. So if we want to get to where we want to get, which is in California, it starts Sunday. It really started in the spring, but, as far as record goes, it starts Sunday. It’s a huge game for us. A lot of people say, ‘Oh, well, it’s the first game, it’s a long season.’ Well, not when you went 2-14 and you didn’t win any games at home last year. I mean, our fans, the greatest fans on the earth, deserve to see a winner, especially at home, so we’re going to do everything in our power to make sure they get it.”
(On if there is an excited vibe in the locker room)
“Yeah, everybody’s excited. Opening day, I told Kwon Alexander, ‘You’re going to have to exhale on opening day.’ I told Ali Marpet the same thing. I said, ‘Preseason is one thing.’ I told them there are a lot of different speeds. You have offseason speed, training camp speed, then it speeds up in preseason games. Opening day is ridiculous because everybody’s been waiting for this moment. Now this counts, now I really get to hit this other guy for four straight quarters. When you get that opportunity, your adrenaline is going to be pumping. That first drive of every opening day is hell, because you’re so exhausted from all your adrenaline pumping. So I told both of those young guys, ‘You’re going to have to take a deep breath and just exhale.’ But as far as the locker room, everybody’s excited. Excited to get out there today, fix what we did wrong yesterday and get it going.”
(On how confident the team is)
“Very. Extremely. In this league, or in any profession, if you don’t feel like you’re the best, or feel like you’re going to be successful, or feel like you’re going to win, or know you’re going to win, it’s pointless to be doing it. We’re going into that stadium Sunday expecting to win. We have no other outcome in our mind. So guys are extremely confident. It’s not an arrogance, it’s definitely confidence in the drills we’ve done, in the work we’ve put in in the weight room, on the field – this camp was a grinder – the meeting rooms, everything. When you prepare the right way, it’s easy to go into a game with confidence.”
(On rookie starters experiencing what it’s like to play a full game)
“It’s long. It’s extremely long. Their first quarter is going to feel like a full game to them. To a vet who’s done it, you understand what’s coming, but even to us, opening day is always rough. In preseason, like I said, there are phases to this game. You have offseason speed, training camp speed, and, when preseason comes, you know you want to win the game – anytime they keep the score, you want to win the game – but preseason is just a glorified scrimmage, that’s all it is. When the game counts, it’s a completely different speed. So, trying to be full speed all four quarters and you’ve never done that at the NFL level, it can be exhausting. But I think those four guys [Ali Marpet, Donovan Smith, Kwon Alexander and Jameis Winston] are going to be all right. I think we made pretty good decisions with those picks.”
(On the number of people who will be watching this game in particular, with the matchup between Marcus Mariota and Jameis Winston, and how he knows Jameis is ‘the guy’)
“Those eyeballs are coming from outside the building. We [couldn’t] care less about one versus two, Jameis versus Mariota. To us, [Mariota is] No. 8. That’s who he is. He’s not a rookie to us, he’s the starting quarterback. It doesn’t matter what he’s done in college or what he’s done in the preseason. It’s about what he does on Sunday. And we have to do our best to make sure that we don’t allow him to use all those God-given abilities that he has – because the guy is extremely intelligent. He can make all the throws, especially if you let him get in space. He’s ridiculously fast, so we definitely have to contain him. It’s not about whether we believe our guy is the guy. We know how talented he is and that he’s a playmaker. If you put the ball in his hands, we know that he can get the job done. So instead of thinking, ‘Well, it’s this guy versus this guy. Is our guy the guy?’ Let’s just go out there and play our game on defense, get the ball in his hands and he’ll do the rest.”
(On if there was a moment when he really believed in Winston as Tampa Bay’s quarterback)
“Yeah: ‘With the first overall pick, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers select Jameis Winston.’ [Laughter] It’s as simple as that. It’s that easy. He’s on our team now, [so] yeah I believe in him. I don’t care if he goes out there and throws 10 interceptions a day, he’s the starter and when we go out there Sunday, I know he’s going to get it done. I’m not concerned about any of that. He’s a Buccaneer, so that’s who our belief is in. Coach [Lovie Smith] says he’s the starter, OK, he’s the starter. Now let’s go out there and win some games. As soon as they picked him, he’s the guy. That’s what gives us the confidence. I’ve been saying since I was a rookie [that] I trust the guys upstairs. They made the right pick, we’re going to play with who they put on the field, go out and win some games.”
(On if he had any preconceived notions about Winston)
“No, I was just worried about what he does on the field. I knew that if we picked him, we have enough vets in our locker room to take care of him. Things happen. He was young; he’s still young. Things happen. We’re not concerned about that. What we are concerned about is what he does on the field, and since he’s been here he’s done everything right, whether that’s off the field, on the field. He comes in and he’s here early every day. I get here pretty early and he’s here when I’m here. He’s walking in with the coaches. Working on getting in better shape, always has his playbook with him – he’s the real deal. He’s a winner, man. It’s just in his blood to be a winner and that’s all he wants to be. It’s going to be fun to watch.”
(On when Winston will become the face of the franchise)
“When you’re the quarterback, you’re the guy. It’s as simple as that. You can’t win in this league without a quarterback, it’s just been proven. He will get that role; it’s coming, but he’s not there yet. He’s just a rookie. If he goes too fast and tries to take over that role right now, he might not ever catch up. He might always look back like, ‘Man, I should have enjoyed being a rookie.’ I never want him to do that, because that’s what I did. I couldn’t enjoy being a rookie because I got thrown in: now I’m the guy, I have to call this, call that, do this, do that. I never want anybody who comes in as a rookie to not enjoy their rookie season because you only get one. Now I’m looking back like, man, I wish I would have. I never want him to do that. All we expect him to be is the best starting quarterback he can be. Past that, just have fun. Enjoy the game. It’s a privilege to be out there. I love the game, that’s why I’m always smiling. It’s a privilege to be out there, but you only get one rookie season. When you tell stories about your rookie season, are you going to tell it like I tell my stories? My stories are all stressful stories. I don’t tell any fun stories. I never want anybody to do that. Just being honest. My rookie season, I never said, ‘Hey, this was great!’ I never said that. Besides the 10 wins, it wasn’t a fun season. But I never want Jameis to ever, ever, ever have to say that – or any rookie. Enjoy being a rookie, man. You’re a starting quarterback in the NFL and you’re a rookie. You’re getting to live out your dream as a rookie. Let us be the vets and take everything else.”
(On what he missed out on during his rookie season)
“Being a rookie. Just not worrying about anything, just going and playing the game. You see a lot of guys come in and they just go play and be free. I was stressed out every week over having to be the guy. I thought I had to be the savior instead of just being a rookie. And that’s not the case as a rookie. You don’t have to be the savior. There are vets here. You are coming to make the team better, not to be the team, and that’s what rookies have to understand.”
(On how this season feels different)
“It’s a fresh start. Every time you get an opportunity to wipe the slate clean and come out here 0-0 and have the talent that we have and the coaching staff that we have in this organization, it’s an exciting time. I know it is for the other 31 teams around the league, but for us we’ve been through quite a bit over the last couple of years and I know the guys in this locker room are definitely ready to change their ways.”
(On how much of a difference Offensive Coordinator Dirk Koetter will make)
“Offensively it really has been a very bright light for us over there. Obviously the unfortunate things we went through with [former Buccaneers Offensive Coordinator Jeff] Tedford last year and his condition unfortunately took him away from us. We really just never found that synergy and that cohesion through our staff and through our players. This year, we’ve been able to start early with him in the spring time through all of our OTAs, go through a full training camp with him and see a full preseason which has been great for all of us, especially having a rookie young quarterback who Dirk has been really great with. It’s going to be great for him moving forward. I can’t rave enough about how much Dirk’s presence has really been a positive for us.”
(On quarterback Jameis Winston’s first NFL regular season game and what advice Jackson would give him)
“Nerves are something everybody is going to have. Whether you are a rookie or a ten-year vet. It’s exciting starting your first game of the season. Once he just gets through those first couple of plays, gets a sweat, gets a little grass on his pants he will be just fine. Stay smart, don’t push anything, keep things simple, it’s just a glorified practice. You want to execute just as good out here on the practice field as you do in the game. Once he gets through the first little bumps and bruises and jitters he’ll be just fine.”
(On the excitement of not holding anything back on offense)
“Indeed. Obviously you get through the preseason your goal is to improve and use those games to prepare for the regular season, but you also want to keep guys healthy so we have been limited in some of our playing time and obviously some of our playbook as well. It is exciting to have, kind of, that full gambit that we can bring out here this first week and moving forward. I think there is a lot of flexibility. Our coaching staff has done a great job using all of our personnel, moving guys around to different positions and those are things that are going to be a big strength for us throughout the year.”
(On his sense of the community’s support this season)
“That’s what’s been great about this community since I got here. The fact that no matter what our record has really looked like, there might be a few drop offs here and here, but these are some loyal fans, man. These have [fans] stuck behind us. They are Buc Nation. They want to see this team be successful. They believe in what Lovie [Smith] can bring here and the culture he is trying to build. When you have a first overall pick and a quarterback, that’s a pretty big deal as well. That’s going to bring a lot of excitement and bring a lot of optimism to our fans. We’re excited, man. We’re just as excited for our fans as we are for ourselves just because of the fact that we know they’ve stuck behind us through a lot and they know that we are ready to give them what they want.”
(On chasing the first win to get momentum for the season)
“Yeah, you have to. We try to build a little bit of that mindset through the preseason and obviously we started putting a lot of emphasis, probably about two or three weeks ago, on Tennessee. For us , there is only one important game for us this week. As long as the season is you can only win one every week. That’s the way we are going to approach it. That’s the way Lovie approaches it each and every week to say, ‘Look guys, there is only one we can win and that’s the most important game of any of our lives for that week.’ That’s the way we are going to approach it and then as soon as we get this one behind us, we’ll be saying the same thing next week.”
(On if a season opener can set a tone for the whole season)
“Absolutely. It really can. Despite what happens, we expect some positive things, but if things don’t go exactly how we picture it – it’s football, mistakes are going to be made – we’re going to go back to the drawing board and continue to correct those things, improve as a football team and we expect to be peaking at the end of the season and into the playoffs.”
(On his respect level of Winston after going through the offseason, training camp and preseason with him)  
“It’s great. Guys in that huddle over there on the offensive side of the ball, even throughout this locker room on both sides, just really respect the way he goes about his work. He’s a professional. He’s handled himself well. He’s done everything we have asked him to do. He’s continued to improve. You can tell that he cares. He is a competitive guy. He brings that energy that is infectious. It’s infecting other guys on offense and throughout this locker room. He definitely has the respect and we couldn’t be happier to have him leading us out there.”
(On what aspects of a Dick LeBeau defense could he take advantage of if they bring blitz packages)
“That’s just that. We know, one is the history of this coaching staff and two, obviously we have a young quarterback. I think throughout this year, no matter who we are playing, they are going to try to bring the pressure and see what we can handle. For us, it’s going to be execution. Communication is going to be huge upfront for us, our quarterback making the right calls, our offensive line communicating well with each other and then of course on the outside we’ve got to make the right adjustments so that when they do do that and they are out of position that we can make them pay for that.”
(On why he thinks this season is going to be different)
“This isn’t the same Buccaneer team as last year. You got new coaches, you got new players. It’s a fresh start and it’s 0-0. For us, there is nothing but one way we can go and that’s up. Guys believe in that. Lovie has brought a consistent, positive message since we started this thing back when we showed up in April. It really has carried throughout and I couldn’t be more excited to play with this group of guys in this locker room.”  
(On Offensive Coordinator Dirk Kotter saying the running game will help open up the passing game for rookie quarterback Jameis Winston)
“Jameis shouldn’t have to do it all. There’s 11 guys on the field. If they all play together as a team, it should be easier on everybody. [Koetter] saying that, wanting to run the ball, that’s what we’ve got to do to get the pressure off of Winston. I believe that’s what we can do.”
(On how important a fast start in Sunday’s game will be)
“That’s the emphasis. Every game you want to start fast and finish strong. That’s been emphasized and that’s when we start practice going fast and you want to finish strong.”
(On if the running backs like having the focus being on the quarterback)
“That’s usually how it is – [it’s] a quarterback-driven league and everybody is going to be looking at Winston. We have all these weapons on the team – myself, other running backs, V-Jack [Vincent Jackson], tight ends – to pick up the pressure from Winston. For all of the guys, if we play well, it’s going to be an easy day.
(On the rookie offensive linemen Ali Marpet and Donovan Smith and how well Martin has gotten to know them)
“I’ve gotten to know them pretty well. They’re still looking to get better and they’re going to do a good job. Everybody’s confident in what they can do and I can’t wait to see what those guys can do out there.”
(On Head Coach Lovie Smith wanting to focus on the running game)
“It’s not a problem for me. I do consider myself a workhorse and I feel that I’m able to carry the load and lots of other running backs in the room are able to do the same thing and help carry the load. We are confident in our running game and I can’t wait to see what we’re going to do.”
(On how he feels physically entering the season)
“Physically, I feel like I’m in better shape. I know I shed some fat off and gained a little muscle. I feel more explosive. I feel overall better.”
(On playing his former team)
"Obviously there are going to be some emotional things going on with me knowing some of the players on the other side, but I'm treating this just like any other game. I'm not trying to do more than I usually do because to me that's how trouble ends up happening, when you try to do too much, especially in this scheme and this system. I've just got to do what my job entails and then everything is going to fall into place, and I think we'll like the result."
(On what he likes about Tennessee quarterback Marcus Mariota)
"I've been a Mariota fan just because I'm a PAC-12 guy. I've seen Marcus play, and whoop up on the [UCLA] Bruins, unfortunately, so many times. I've always been a fan of his, one for his humility and people I know who have been around him. And obviously he's a great talent, winning the Heisman Trophy. Just seeing the film this [pre]season, I think he's been doing really, really good. He's been making some really good throws, he's been getting it to different receivers. He just seems so poised and so confident out there, and that's always surprising to see from any rookie at any position. He really looked like a vet, and I kind of expected that from him. I think he's going to be a good player and I look forward to going against him."
(On the Titans' receivers)
"They're talented. Kendall Wright, I was there with him and he's an explosive playmaker. Delanie [Walker] was there when I was there, he's a tight end but a big part of their passing game. You've got Justin Hunter, a young guy that can stretch the field. He made some big plays when I was there. He's just tall, lanky, can run. Then the guy they picked up, Dorial Green-Beckham, is in the same type of mold, a big play that can make plays. They've got so many weapons for Marcus at his disposal, and with his athletic ability he might be able to move in the pocket and all those guys can make plays. I look forward to the matchup. I'm sure they also look forward to it after all the stuff we went through in practice back there. They're very talented."
(On if the defense will be improved in Year Two)
"No question. The main thing we have to prove is we can start fast, and that's everywhere across the board. We didn't start fast last year. People say, 'We built it toward the end,' and stuff like that but nobody wants to hear that. You want to hear people start out of the gate fast. I think we've got to prove we can sustain what we've been doing during the offseason, the preseason and towards the end of [last] season, and start out fast. It would be very, very disappointing if we laid an egg in the beginning after all the hype and everything we've had. We don't expect that – I don't expect that at all. I would say we have something to prove."

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