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23 December 2015

Buccaneers Quotes: Wednesday, December 23, 2015

BUC BIT OF THE DAY: This season, Buccaneers QB Jameis Winston has passed for 3,422 yards and 20 touchdowns. His 3,422 yards are the sixth-most by a rookie since the 1970 NFL/AFL Merger and his 20 touchdowns are tied for the sixth most. With 578 more passing yards this season, Winston will become only the third rookie in NFL history to throw for at least 4,000 yards (Andrew Luck: 4,374; Cam Newton: 4,051). With three more passing touchdowns, he can tie Andrew Luck for the third-most by a rookie in league history (t1st: Peyton Manning & Russell Wilson, 26).
                                                                                    
Below is a selection of Tampa Bay Buccaneers quotes from today’s earlier media availability:
 
Head Coach Lovie Smith
Defensive Coordinator Leslie Frazier
Offensive Coordinator Dirk Koetter
Quarterback Jameis Winston
Guard Logan Mankins
Running Back Doug Martin
Defensive Tackle Gerald McCoy
 
HEAD COACH LOVIE SMITH
 
(Opening Statement)
“How about the injury list first? Kourtnei Brown, Vincent Jackson, Logan Mankins and Akeem Spence all weren’t able to practice today. We’re starting to get some players back, at least on a limited basis. I’m talking about Chris Conte, Bruce Carter practiced full today. That’s always a good thing. George Johnson also was able to go today. Sometimes when you know when the end is coming, you can prepare yourself for that. We know we have a couple games to go. We know this is our final home game. We want to play our best ball in front of our fans who have been great throughout. I think most of our fans see that we are getting better, we are going to be a good football team in the future. Right now we want to finish it off the right way. I’m sure the Bears are disappointed with their record right now. Everybody that’s not in the playoffs is pretty disappointed in that. We know the challenge that we face offensively – quarterback, great running back, great wide receiver. Defensively, very good defensive end or outside linebacker, whatever you want to call it. For us, we want to play our best ball as I said.”
 
(On if he can confirm defensive tackle Gerald McCoy saying he has a torn rotator cuff)
“Do I confirm a torn rotator cuff? This is what I’ll confirm: I don’t let anybody go on the field with an injury. Guys, throughout the season, play with pain. Again, everybody that is on the football field, on our team, has been cleared by the medical staff to play. I don’t know exactly what you are talking about by that, but if you see one of our players on the football field, he has been cleared medically to play. Whether he is playing with some pain, I assume every player in the league right now is playing with pain.”
 
(On what a player like quarterback Jameis Winston means to the growth of a young team)
“It means a lot. I think it means a lot, any phase of your growth as a team. For us to get a player like that early on with so many other good young football players says a lot. Every time I’ve talked about Jameis I’ve said the same thing – great things. The guys is an outstanding player, a great leader, everything you would want a first-round draft pick, top player in the draft, all of that to be he has been. He is excited about finishing it up the right way like we talked about with our football team. It’s safe to say his future is pretty bright.”
 
(On the most impressive thing he has seen Winston do)
“That would be hard to say. It wouldn’t be any easier to ask, ‘Okay Lovie what don’t you like about what he’s doing?’ Just like I am right now, I can’t say anything that I don’t like about him. His whole makeup, on the field and off the field. It’s safe to say I buy into Jameis Winston. We all do.”
 
(On Winston getting emotional with defensive opponents and the referees and learning to control his emotions)
“Yes, you do need and Jameis hasn’t been in that situation an awful lot. When I say about buying in to, Jameis is a first-year player, he’s still not a finished product. No rookie is a finished product yet. What I’ve seen from Jameis Winston is things that aren’t exactly what we would like for it to be, bring it to his attention and it’s eliminated. We won’t have to deal with that anymore.”
 
(On if it’s still special to play against Chicago)
“They’re just the next team on the schedule, always, but last week we played the St. Louis Rams. I had great memories of my time in St. Louis, so, yeah, it was special playing them. I have great memories of my time in Chicago – lifetime friends, just my time there. I choose to remember only the good, which is quite a bit. It means a lot when you play a place, a team at a place that you’ve been before. When I left here as a linebacker coach and went to St. louis it was special when I got a chance to play the Buccaneers. There will be some meaning with that, but there are not a whole lot of players on the team that I coached.”
 
(On a coaching staff’s willingness to play rookies right away)
“First off, you have to be on the same page with how we are building our football team. We wanted to build it through the draft and that says you are going to play some young football players. I never had a problem playing young football players that are good enough. They’re talented, good enough and ready to play. A lot of them are talented and in time they’ll be ready, but these guys showed us right away. Most of them we put in there right away. It’s not like it was ever too big for them. It’s not like we went out on a limb taking a chance on Ali Marpet that he could play. He showed us on the field right away. Donovan Smith showed us. Of course, Jameis Winston right away, Kwon Alexander – these players all showed us right away that they were ready and I’m going to keep going, Adam Humphries, when he got an opportunity, Donteea Dye, when we moved him up. We played a lot of rookies around here. In an ideal world I can’t wait to be playing those second-year guys instead of these first-year guys, but right now we’ll take it.”
 
(On Winston being able to fix his mistakes quickly and how rare it is among young players)
“I’ve been a head football coach a long time – when I was in Chicago, Kyle Orton, a special guy that I got a chance to coach there, who was advanced in a lot of areas – I never had a guy that has come in the way Jameis has in this situation, so it’s a little bit different. Again, we can go back to Jameis quite a bit on things he can do and what I thought and how he’s been. I’m just excited to see him play his 15th game and his final home game to see how he’s going to handle that situation. Everything is new for him. We know the final week, they’ll bring some more new things that a rookie quarterback hasn’t gone through.”
 
(On how a team’s finish to a season can impact the next season)
“I’m a firm believer – big believer – that it’s about momentum and how you finish up. Yes, I believe that. We know that we are going to be a good football team, but how about confirming it right at the end. There’s a good chance we can play the Chicago Bears next year. For us, we know we are going to play the team with the best record in football right now is in our division. We’re going to have to eventually beat the Carolina Panthers. To have an opportunity to beat the Bears and to finish up with the possible Super Bowl Champion or whatever, yeah, I think that momentum can help us as we stating working in the offseason.”
 
(On carrying over momentum to next season even with roster changes)
“It will change from year to year, but the foundation will not change. Our core players will remain in place. We talk about young players. When you go through what we’ve gone through with young players, you think we’re going to let somebody have them? No, these are foundation pieces we’re talking about that we’re going to go forward with.”
 
(On how Pro Bowlers are selected)
“What can be done about it is guys like you bringing it up, that know football bring it up, that sees that. There is a problem right now in Pro Bowl voting for linebackers. I’m talking about linebackers that aren’t rushers. Most of the guys that are listed as linebackers are defensive ends as we see it. They’re rushing, they should be a different category. It’s just a small pool for players like Lavonte David to get in. Derrick Brooks has to break in to that. Lance Briggs had to break in to that. Eventually people will take notice and see that Lavonte David is about an outside linebacker as there is around.”
 
(On if two games without linebacker Kwon Alexander has shown how much of an impact he can have)
“Good question, very much so. I think it’s good for a player like Kwon Alexander to see too how much he means to his football team. We haven’t been the same without him, but we knew that. Kwon Alexander, there’s a reason why we put him in after one preseason game. He brings something to the table. Nobody plays harder than him. The guy is an impact hitter. It’s about production with him. He’s intercepted the ball, he’s stripped the ball, all those big things you’re talking about that we have really missed the last couple weeks, those are things that he brought to the table. Yes, we definitely have an appreciation for good linebacker play and he has a bright future ahead of him.”
 
DEFENSIVE COORDINATOR LESLIE FRAZIER
 
(Opening Statement)
“Good afternoon, everybody. It’s good to be back preparing for a ball game at home against a good opponent that presents some challenges for us. They do a good job with some of the things they do on offense. [We’re] looking forward to this ball game at home. It’s our final home game of the season, so it’s a big game.”
 
(On allowing long gains through the air against St. Louis)
“It is frustrating when it happens. We’ve done a pretty good job of not giving up big plays over the top. It happened on Thursday night. It hurt us in a coverage where it shouldn’t happen. Then you got to regroup when it does. You have to rebound, put it behind you and get ready for the next play. You would like to minimize those, you don’t want them to happen very often, but, when they do, you have to move on.”
 
(On linebacker Lavonte David not making the Pro Bowl)
“I’m very disappointed. Lavonte, I don’t know if there is another outside backer playing better, if you define what a true linebacker is. I’m a little mixed on how they define the linebacker position today. So many of the guys are deemed outside linebackers are really rush ends. He’s a pure outside linebacker in a 4-3 scheme which is different from a 3-4. It is a snub. He’s had a Pro Bowl yea and should be recognized for that. For him to be an alternate at the level that he is an alternate, you would think I’m a little biased because I work with him every day, but even as a fan, when you take a look at what he’s accomplished he’s had a Pro Bowl-worthy season but the system, in my opinion, is why he’s not a first-team Pro Bowler. His play and his production dictates that he should be a Pro Bowler without question, but the system, I hope they take a look at it and maybe come up with some clarity on what a true outside backer is and how they are defining an outside linebacker.”
 
(On Chicago quarterback Jay Cutler)
“It seems like the new system they’ve installed has really worked in his favor. His interceptions are down, he has much more control of the offense, he’s playing more within himself and even though they haven’t come up with the number of win they would like, he’s played well at the quarterback position, so I’m sure they are excited about the future based on his production this season. He’s always had the talent, but you always felt in the back of your mind you were going to have a chance to make some plays [against him], but he’s limited those opportunities for defenses this season, so credit to him, credit to the new staff and their offensive system.”
 
(On if Cutler is not throwing as many deep passes as he has in the past)
“They still will take their shots with [Alshon] Jeffery. He’s still a big-play guy down the field. He’s been hampered a little bit because of injuries, but they’re taking their shots down the field and he’s done a very good job of picking his spots and not forcing throws like he may have in the past. He still has a big arm, they still take their shots.”
 
(On having one takeaway in the last four games)
“We’ve been moaning and groaning about that one. This is the week to do something about it. One in the last four weeks, it’s hurt us too. We have to get back to taking the ball away. It definitely helps us. It helps our team and this has to be week we get it done. We have to get that turned around.”
 
(On defensive tackle Gerald McCoy having a shoulder injury and if the staff thought about shutting him down for the season)
“I don’t think we really had conversations about shutting him down. We were talking about the extent of time he might miss, but I don’t remember any conversation about putting him away for the season and I’m glad we didn’t. He’s come back and he’s still a force even though he’s had to play through some injuries, so he’s still a factor. Like a lot of guys playing this time of year, they’re playing through injuries and he’s no different and he’s still very effective even though he’s fighting through some things.”
 
(On if the team will play different combinations at cornerback in order to get a better look at guys for the future)
“Just in talking with Coach [Lovie] Smith earlier in the week, as we were preparing for this practice and yesterday’s practice, we definitely want to take a look at guys, but we’ve pretty much taken a look at everybody we have, so it’s not like we haven’t shuffled the deck a little bit. You still want to get a good view of guys in these last couple of ball games as you get ready for 2016, but I think we have somewhat an opinion on most of our guys. This is a chance to get a final look in this season. It’s not like we haven’t given guys opportunities.”
 
(On cornerback Jude Adjei-Barimah’s playing being decreased last week)
“He had that play over the top. That was definitely one you would like to not see and that affected what we were trying to get done, especially early. It was an opportunity to give someone else a look, to be able to go back to Johnthan [Banks], take a look at him, see how he would function in that environment and he did some good things when he was in there. We’ll see this week what’s best for the defense, for our team. Jude has done a good job in the time that he’s been in there. For where we are now, you really want to get a better handle on, not only him, but other guys that are back there. Just to ascertain what’s the best direction going forward.”
 
(On cornerback Johnthan Banks)
“I do think he can be effective and he has been. He did some good things for us even last season, really came on strong as he got a better handle of what we were asking at the position. This year [he] had a little bit of a hiccup, Jude [Adjei-Barimah] came on, did a good job for us, Sterling [Moore] did a good job for us, but he’s going to get an opportunity over the next couple of weeks to show us why he deserves to be the guy at the position. We haven’t closed the book on Johnthan Banks at all. We know he has talent and he has a lot of ability so he’ll get opportunities.”
 
(On safety Chris Conte)
“He’s been one of the bright lights for our secondary. He’s done a good job for us throughout the season with his tackling, his playmaking ability, just being in the right spot at the right time. It’s unfortunate he got banged up the other night, but hopefully we get him back. He’s done a good job for us all season long and been able to stay somewhat injury-free up until this most recent injury. We’re pleased, glad we signed him and hopefully he’ll get through this and we’ll get him back on the field before the year is out.”    
 
OFFENSIVE COORDINATOR DIRK KOETTER
 
(On Buccaneers Pro Bowl selections)
“Yeah, that’s awesome. [It’s] great for Doug and great for [alternate] Logan [Mankins]. We need a few more.”
 
(On quarterback Jameis Winston’s attitude against St. Louis)
“I think passion is great. I think passion by any player is fantastic, but whatever emotion, and passion being one of those, that a player has on display, as long as it’s not affecting his play or the play or the other players I think it’s great. One thing about Jameis is I don’t think Jameis has ever faked emotion. I think whatever you see from Jameis, from what I’ve seen, has always been real. I do think though that sometimes guys can get out of control emotional. They can let their emotions get away from them a little bit. Now is that emotion or is that passion? You get into big words that I don’t maybe know the definition of, but I thought there were times in that game where Jameis got a little bit out of control. The thing I talked to Jameis about is Jameis is the guy that should be keeping his cool no matter what happens on the field. I thought there were a few times that we had more than just one player, more than just Jameis too worried about the officials and not worried enough about playing or too worried about talking to the opponents and not worrying about playing. None of that is going to help us win.”
 
(On the offensive line being motivated to help running back Doug Martin be the leading rusher for the 2015 season)
“You can’t deny that. First and foremost is to win the game. That’s by far the most important thing. We were in a similar situation a few years back in Jacksonville with Maurice Jones-Drew. You can’t deny that. That’s important to those guys and it’s important to everybody involved with our running game and that goes down to the fullback, the wide receivers, the tight ends. You look at the game the other night and [Donteea Dye] probably had six plays where for a wide receiver [did] an incredible job of blocking. Mike [Evans] has become a lot better blocker this year. That’s all important. It’s second to winning the game, but it is something that’s there.”
 
(On if Adam Humphries can be an solid slot receiver in the NFL)
“Yeah, we’ll see about that. We’re really happy with what Adam is doing and obviously experience makes everybody better. We were joking with the coaches, he made a couple third-down catches in the last game against St. Louis and one of the routes was the exact same route that we threw a pick-six on on the first third down of the season against Tennessee – exact same play, different coverage, but exact same play. I guess that’s just an illustration of how young players are going to grow and that’s both Jameis [Winston] and Adam. The things Lovie [Smith] said about Adam earlier this week, I would reiterate every one of those. They’re all true. Adam deserves everything he’s getting, he’s worked hard to get here and he’s doing a nice job for us. As far as moving forward, Adam will be a hard guy to beat out just because he knows what he’s doing and he doesn’t make very many mistakes.”
 
(On if players talking too much to their opponents is something that happens league-wide or if it’s team specific)
“That’s a hard question. I think there’s talk that goes on all across the NFL. There was examples of that last week. That’s one thing playing on a Thursday night, you watch all the Sunday games and you see the TV version instead of the film copy version. You see more of that. That definitely goes on, but that’s not something that Coach [Lovie] Smith promotes. You’re never going to get that entirely out, but when that lingers on in between plays or the demonstration part of it you can see from the sideline, that’s not a positive. That’s not helping us win. We would be very discouraging of that.”
 
(On saying Winston’s emotions sometimes affect others negatively)
“It affects me negatively when I see him arguing with people. Is that a good example? It pisses me off and then I’m cussing at him on the headset. In fact the two backup quarterbacks reminded me of a play in the game where I accidentally had the button on and they could hear me cussing at [Winston]. I guess that’s a good example. Jameis is the leader of our offensive football team. The quarterback should be in complete control at all times. He’s the guy that relays the information. He knows the play before everybody else, so everybody else is waiting for the information. ‘Hey, what are we doing?’ And oh by the way, the clock is running. The quarterback’s job is to get the information from the sideline to the other players and then a lot of times that stuff changes at the line of scrimmage – we’re redirecting the protection, we’re changing the blocking scheme, we’re audibling to another play, we’re in no-huddle, so there’s not five seconds to waste arguing with the referee or getting in a wrestling match with the D-linemen. There’s just no place for that.”
 
(On he expects to see more growth from his offense over the final two games)
“We got to get off to a faster start. The last two games, we’ve ran the ball okay to start the game, we’re moving the chains, but when I say get off to a faster start; moving the ball, moving the chains, getting first downs, that doesn’t get you points on the scoreboard. We’ve got to finish drives. We’ve been playing from behind and from an offensive standpoint we have to take that on ourselves. ‘Hey, get off to a fast start. Let’s get the lead and play with the lead.’ Come out of the gates and get points on the board sooner. That’s one thing we definitely need to get better at. The other thing is ever since someone in here pointed out how good we were doing on third down and jinxed us, the last two weeks, we’ve been less than stellar on third down – three for 10 last week. How do you get 30 first downs and only go three for 10 on third down? We’ve got to do a better job on third down. Two games ago that really hurt us in being able to run more plays. That wasn’t a problem against the Rams, but still. The bottom line is, on all these stats we talk about in here, the bottom line is get more points than the other team and we haven’t done that.”
 
(On if emotion factors into the offense’s slow start)
“That’s a hard question because we were successful running the ball last week. We kept running it, we didn’t really throw the ball a whole lot in the first half period. That’s hard to say. If we would’ve come out throwing every play, would that have made a difference on Jameis? I don’t know the answer to that. I’m not sure Jameis was overly emotional at the start of the game. The way the game went, we talked about this before, when we, a young offensive team, have gotten behind more than once this year we’ve gotten a little frustrated and then your emotions tend to boil over a little bit when either you get behind or maybe things don’t go your way. Maybe it’s self-inflicted mistakes, which we had plenty of. We had more mental errors in the first half of that Rams game than we probably had in the three games combined before that. We were shooting ourselves continually. The second half we were behind, we were playing faster, we were in a lot more no-huddle mode, we moved the ball pretty well. The whole emotion thing, again we’re never going to get Jameis to not be an emotional player. He’s been fine. He’s played like that his whole life. It’s a good thing, it’s just his emotion can never detract from his play or others around him. As long as we’re not in that area we’ll be fine.”
 
(On having three or four starting-caliber offensive players from the rookie class)
“In my time in the NFL, I haven’t had it, but I know it bodes well for the future to have two O-linemen plus Jameis plus the fact that we have those two receivers. We’ve got a good class of rookie receivers even some guys that haven’t played yet. We’re excited and not necessarily a rookie, but the way Cameron Brate has come on this year. He’s almost like a rookie. We’re excited about our young guys. We have improved, but we just talked about in our meeting today, you look at the Pro Bowl voting and we had two guys make it; Doug [Martin] and [Gerald McCoy] on defense, but look at Carolina. They had 10 guys make it. They’re undefeated and they’re in our division so two and 10. That shows you where we need to go.”
 
(On the growth of tackle Donovan Smith)
“Donovan, we’ve talked about this a few times in here. Donovan probably had maybe his best game of the year two weeks ago against the Saints. He’s playing physical. You can pick out plays in every games where Donovan looks dominant physically. He got on one of the linebackers for St. Louis I think it has second play of the game. Pull that clip up, it was an outside run by Doug [martin] and he buried the outside linebacker – ran him all the way to the sideline. When you consider what we’ve asked Donovan to do this year – come in, be the blindside tackle, he’s played almost every snap this year, continued to get better – I don’t know if there’s a scenario where you could be more happy with how a rookie left tackle has done.”
 
(On wide receiver Mike Evans’ season)
“Since I wasn’t here last year I can’t compare it to just watching film. He had a heck of a rookie year. One thing about his rookie year, I don’t know how many of those 12 touchdowns were in the red zone and how many were further out play. I don’t know that, I’m sure we could figure that out pretty quick. One thing, Mike is not surprising anybody this year and when Vincent [Jackson] is out especially, Mike is going to see a lot more double-teams, especially in the red zone. Almost everybody doubles Mike in the red zone. We have a lot of plays that are designed for Mike unless he’s doubled. We’re not going to be working there if he’s doubled because that means other guys are singled. When the guys give me the comparisons him and Randy Moss or whatever are the only two guys that had 1,000 yards [before age 25]. Mike’s numbers, he’s still one of the top guys in the league. Could he have had a better statistical season? Yeah, he could of. There’s been opportunities for it. How do I evaluate it? I evaluate it by saying I’m glad he’s on our team. I think him and Jameis [Winston] will do nothing but grow together. The way the rules are now, when Jameis got here after the draft and then Mike had a little hamstring issue, they didn’t really get a chance to gel. The offseason will be good. Get through OTAs and training camp, you have to stay healthy, all that stuff. There’s no reason Mike and Jameis can’t be a lethal combination.”
 
(On being one of the few offensive coordinators in NFL history to could have had a top-10 offense with three different teams)
“You know how much I’ve thought about that? That would be zero. I didn’t even know that. Can we end the season today though?”
 
QUARTERBACK JAMEIS WINSTON
 
(Opening statement)
“Merry Christmas. It’s good Doug [Martin], Gerald [McCoy], Logan [Mankins], Lavonte [David], Pro Bowl, some good Christmas presents for the Bucs.”
 
(On learning to control his passion)
“I apologized to the team, because it’s not really emotion and passion. That has nothing to do with the play. It’s just when you are doing that, it takes away from the actually game plan and I have to stop that. I can’t be arguing with the referees and Dirk [Koetter] calling the play. That’s something that I will learn, but that game was just a big game, I didn’t want anybody to take away from us and that’s all.”
 
(On being able to finish drives and score touchdowns)
“We just have to execute. Doug [Martin] is always going to do what he does. On third downs, we have to execute. The first two third downs, I just missed guys that were open, that’s why I took the blame for that. The past two weeks, third downs have been our low point when, after Week 4, third downs have been one of our better situations that we were good at. Obviously we have to hone in on our third downs this week and just build off of it.”
 
(On the team taking on his personality)
“I would hope so just because I love them and hopefully their love for me is showing. I would go to war for any one of them and hopefully they would go to war for me. When you’re being yourself, people they follow that. One thing I learned about a great leader – a great leader creates great leaders, not just great followers. I definitely have a long way to go to get everybody to have the same mentality or to be able to follow me.”
 
(On who told him ‘a great leader creates great leaders’)
“Yeah, my uncle. After that game, my uncle sent me a text. I always viewed leadership – you’re not a great leader unless you have great followers. He said you’re not a great leader unless you can create other great leaders. I think on this team with all the different roles that people play on this team, we can have so many different leader in different positions.”
 
(On defensive tackle Gerald McCoy having a torn rotator cuff and still playing and what that meant to him as a rookie looking at a veteran leader)
“That’s great, but that’s what you’re expected to do in this league. Gerald has been here a long time. He has it. He has that ‘it’ factor, that’s why he is one of the faces of this franchise. That’s to show the young guys, this is what you’re expected to do. Logan Mankins and [Gosder Cherilus], they’re getting older, so they’re getting in the hot tub, they’re getting their body right all the time. Injuries are just a part of this game. People like Gerald, you should take note of that, and just fight through them and keep battling.”
 
(On what it would mean to the offense for running back Doug Martin to win the rushing title)
“It would mean a lot because we want to finish this season strong. Having that in your back corner is great. It shows what this offense is compared to last year’s. We’re way better and that’s just we got way better people around us. Doug is just having an amazing year and like I said, the guys that made the Pro Bowl, it makes us look good as a whole family. Even you guys look good when we have guys that are working their tail off to make it to the Pro Bowl. Obviously our ultimate goal here is to make it to the Super Bowl, make it to the playoffs, but when you have guys that it just shows where the program is going.”
 
(On Martin’s success helping him as a rookie quarterback)
“When you have a great running back and a great offensive line it makes your quarterback’s job a lot easier anyway. You got to give Coach [Dirk] Koetter [credit] for bringing that running game and Coach [George Warhop]. When you establish the running game, it puts you in a great situation to win a game. Doug has won a lot of games for us with his great runs.”
 
(On if anything has surprised him during his rookie season)
“There’s a lot of things that may have caught me off guard or whatever. After the season I’ll sit back and reflect on it and I’ll learn from it, but on a week-to-week basis, my main this is, what I said the first week, is just eliminating the negatives and building on the positives. After each game I watch the film, but I just can’t really reflect on it and think on my progress or what the season may have been like for me yet, because it’s not that time. We still have to win games, we still have to finish. I’m definitely not the person to just be thinking about my individual goals and what I learned when I got to lead the team to some victories.”
 
(On his time with the Chicago when visiting teams before the draft)
“It was a great trip. I love the city of Chicago, a lot of history with the Bears football-wise. It was just amazing. I got a chance to catch up with [Christian] Jones, an ex-player at Florida State. I’m telling you from January when I declared [for the draft] to now it’s just been a surreal moment for me. I haven’t looked back. After this season I will get a chance to do that.”
 
(On Chicago’s defense)
“They have a great defense. They’re actually third in the league in defending against the pass. We definitely have to get Doug [Martin] going again. I know he’s going to be ready and we’re going to be ready as well.”
 
(On what he would ask for Christmas from Santa)
“Take away some of our losses, give us some wins so we can be in the playoffs. That’s the worst thing is sitting at home and watching other people play. That’s probably what’s going to eat me a lot more than anything else.”
 
GUARD LOGAN MANKINS
 
(On what it means to be selected as a Pro Bowl alternate after having played 11 seasons)
“Well it’s always good to be recognized for having a good year, that always means a lot. At this point in my career, it feels pretty good to know you’ve still got it, that guys still respect the way you play and think you’re a good player still.”
 
(On what it would mean to help running back Doug Martin earn the NFL rushing title)
“That was one thing I was happy about, to see Doug get recognized, because he has had a great year. It would mean a lot just to see him accomplish that. To be part of it would be very nice.”
 
(On if he has ever blocked for a running back who has earned the rushing title)
“No, when I was [in New England] we threw it a lot. We had a few [passing titles] – we didn’t run it very often, but that would be nice. It’s not easy to do. You have to have a good back. You have to run it enough times. [You have to stay healthy], thankfully we’ve done that. It hasn’t always been perfect, but Doug has done a great job. Most of the time we do fairly well.”
 
(On his health and if he will be able to play Sunday)
“I don’t know yet. Thankfully, we’ve got three or four more days here, so we’ll see how I progress between now and then.”
 
(On if he has ever been on a team that has had rookies perform as well as Tampa Bay’s have this season)
“No, I haven’t. It’s been very promising for this team, going forward. We’ve got two rookie O-linemen, a rookie quarterback, a rookie middle linebacker, rookies filling in at various other positons – it’s a good sign and a lot of credit goes upstairs, to finding the right guys to fit in, that could do the job that they need to do. They’ve done a good job.”
 
(On quarterback Jameis Winston’s passion on the field and learning when and where to show that passion)
“It comes with experience. You don’t see many quarterbacks down there, getting into it with D-linemen anyways (laughs). He’ll learn. It’s a good thing to have though. We would rather have to tone him down than have to bring him along. It’s a good problem to have, I think.”
 
RUNNING BACK DOUG MARTIN
 
(On being named to the Pro Bowl)
“It meant a lot. Not just an individual accomplishment, it’s a team accomplishment. Got to give a lot of credit to the big guys up front, the whole line. I’ve had a good relationship with them. It’s the best line I’ve played behind throughout my whole entire career, so big thanks to them. It’s definitely a great accomplishment.”
 
(On what it would mean to earn the rushing title)
“It would be awesome. Coach [Lovie Smith] brought that up yesterday. We’re not going to the playoffs, but to have a running back get the rushing title is awesome, a great accomplishment. We’re working for that. They’re excited for it. We’re going to do what we can do.”
 
(On having a season like his rookie season)
“It’s been a wild career, been up-and-down the past two years, I’ve had injuries, but I’m healthy, so this is what happens when I’m healthy.”
 
(On what it means to have an offensive line that wants Martin to win the rushing title)
“Like I said, they’re very excited for what we’ve done this whole entire [year]. Like I said, I have a great relationship with them, I go out to dinners with them, we laugh and crack jokes – we play for each other. It’s a great accomplishment for me and a great accomplishment for them as well.”
 
(On staying healthy this season)
“It’s a tough game. To go all games without getting hurt is a little bit of luck, but you also have to eat right, stretch and do the preventative things to keep you healthy. It’s worked out in my favor.”
 
(On this year’s offensive line compared to the offensive line he ran behind his rookie season)
“Across the line, these guys are just fighters. They’ll go hunt for somebody, bury them and they’ll [say] ‘Hey Doug, go get 200 [rushing yards] this game’ [or] ‘We’ll get you 100 [rushing yards] this game.’ The relationship that I have with them, that’s something that I like.”
 
(On setting the franchise single-season record for rushing yards)
“I’ve got to take it one thing at a time – there are a lot of things (laughs). I can’t go into a game thinking about all these goals. I’ve just got to do my job, let the plays come to me and everything will fall into place. But that would also mean a lot.”
 
DEFENSIVE TACKLE GERALD MCCOY
 
(On linebacker Lavonte David not being selected to the Pro Bowl)
“It’s terrible what’s happening to Lavonte right now. He’s easily the best at what he does. He had a million tackles, three picks, one for a touchdown, forced fumbles, two sacks – he’s been the most dominant at his position, probably since 2013. This has got to stop. It’s very unfair what’s happening to him. Seriously, if I could trade places with him, I would. He more than deserves to be in the Pro Bowl. I believe he’ll be an All-Pro, but what’s happening to him is unfair. You can quote me on that, I don’t care what they say about it, that’s how I feel. He’s the best. He got played and he should be in there, bottom line.”
 
(On talking with the NFL about changing how 3-4 and 4-3 linebackers are listed on Pro Bowl ballots)
“Everybody works hard to get to where they’re at, but the system is flawed. You’ve got to break that down or split it up. There’s no way he can keep getting treated unfairly like this because he’s a true 4-3 outside linebacker. If you ask me, he’s the best at being that. He keeps getting played. Something has to be done.”
 
(On being named to the Pro Bowl)
“It’s great. Any time your peers vote you in, it’s always an honor. I’ll definitely take it. I’m happy about it, but at the drop of a dime, I would give it up to let five-four [Lavonte David] go.”
 
(On making four straight Pro Bowls and if a streak of that nature means a lot to him)
“It does. I got challenged by a Hall of Fame defensive tackle, [Warren Sapp], he challenged me in 2012 to put a string together. I’ve been able to do that, just have to keep that going.”
                                      
(On Chicago’s offense)
“Jay Cutler, if you let him get going, he’ll kill you. You cannot let him get on a roll. If he gets on a roll, he’s not a good quarterback, he’s a great quarterback. Very tough guy, doesn’t mind using his legs. He’s more athletic than people give him credit for. The O-line has been protecting him. Not just him, but Matt Forte. He’s had 1,000 yards rushing and 1,000 yards receiving in the same season before. Guys like that, we’ve got a tough one ahead of us. We really do.”
 
(On minimizing distractions and staying focused on the field)
“All of it is distracting. It’s a very emotional game. Our emotions get the best of us at times, but as professionals, we just have to try and do our best. If a guy loses it, he loses it. Sometimes you go overboard and there have to be consequences. It happens to everybody. When it happens, you just go to him as a man, as a brother of that teammate and just say ‘Listen, we can’t have that. That’s a selfish act. I know you didn’t mean to be selfish, but it is a selfish act and it’s hurting the team.’ You don’t come down on them, you talk to them as a man and you fix it and move forward.”
 
(On if he is anticipating surgery in the offseason)
“I don’t know.”
 
(On if his Christmas wish would be to get Lavonte David to the Pro Bowl)
“I guess you could say that. I wouldn’t mind that. I also wouldn’t mind being in the playoffs.”
 
(On if he plans to play in the Pro Bowl game)
“I do.”
 
(On playing for personal pride)
“What we do now helps us build momentum going into next season. Carolina did the same thing. They finished last season strong and look at where they are now. We could take a lesson from them – always have something to play for. We had a great day of practice yesterday, plan to have another one today, another one tomorrow, a great walk-thru on Saturday and come out Sunday strong.”
 
(On if he talked to former teammate Michael Bennett about playing through a shoulder injury)
“Me and Mike talk all the time about a bunch of random stuff. Mike Bennett made the Pro Bowl. That’s one of my brothers. He’s not a friend – that’s one of my brothers. I’m happy that he got recognized. He should have been in a long time ago. I told him I’m going to stay in his house while we’re down there – he’s got a place in Hawaii. We talk about a whole lot, that was one [thing].”
 
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