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25 November 2015

Buccaneers Quotes: Wednesday, November 25, 2015

BUC BIT OF THE DAY: This season, Tampa Bay has proven adept at both stopping the big play and creating big plays of its own. The team has allowed only 29 plays of 20+ yards, the fewest in the NFL, while gaining 20+ yards on 47 plays, tied for the fifth-highest total in the league.
 
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
Linebacker Lavonte David
Running Back Doug Martin
 
HEAD COACH LOVIE SMITH
 
(Opening Statement)
“Injury list – we held three guys out of practice today. George Johnson has been out of course. His calf muscle is getting better, but he’s not there yet. Evan Smith’s knee is a little sore from the game. We held him out. Keith Tandy is in the concussion protocol form the game also. The rest of the guys, Austin Seferian-Jenkins same situation, getting better. Ali Marpet was able to do more today and Josh Shirley was. We’re getting a little bit better. Of course waiting for a few guys still. Beyond on that, two 5-5 teams fighting for quite a bit. We’ve played well on the road. Another Dome, I guess you can say dome. I assume it will be closed up. We are making progress in a lot of the areas. We want to see more improvement this week.”
 
(On if tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins has been cleared for contact)
“No, he has not been cleared still.”
 
(On if the success of the offensive line allows him to be patient with bringing back injured players such as guard Ali Marpet)
“We won’t have any of our players go back out on the field until they can protect themselves and they’re not injured. As far as rushing them back, we never rush them. When they’re ready to go we’ll let them go. It helps us that we have some depth on the offensive line just for our overall team, but that has nothing to do with Ali [Marpet]. Fifty-fifty, he’s not ready to go. It has to be more than 50/50 for him to be ready to go. Once our medical staff says our guy is good to go then we’ll let him go. It is next guy up though, and if I’m a player that’s injured I try to get back as soon as I possibly could, especially if I’m a starter. Sometimes when we’re out we assume everything is going to stop and it keeps going. Ali is making progress.”
 
(On if Indianapolis and Tampa Bay are similar in the sense that both struggled early in the season but have played well through the last few weeks and how Indianapolis quarterback Matt Hasselbeck has been successful as the starter)
“Just jumping to Hasselbeck a little bit, as I talked a little bit about him on Monday, I’ve been on the other sideline – I’m trying to think of quarterback that I played more against. We’ve seen him so many years and it just doesn’t seem like he should still be playing, especially playing at that level. Are they doing some things differently than with Andrew Luck? Yeah, some things, but for the most part they’re running their offense. As a starting quarterback, Hasselbeck is doing a heck of a job. When you have been in the league that long, there’s nothing you haven’t seen. There’s no new blitz or anything like that. He knows exactly where to go with the ball. For us, we need to be able to get pressure on him and not be able to sit back there and know exactly where to go with the football.”
 
(On the heavy package helping establish the running game)
“It’s helped quite a bit. Most of the time you have a tight end in that role. It’s hard to find a tight end that’s really great at blocking and as a pass catcher too, so why not go with the guy that’s a little bit better at one. There are some situations you’re not looking for a tight end that can really block that well. You’re looking for a guy that is great at catching the ball. Kevin has given us a lot. Kevin Pamphile has given us just good play no matter where. He’s played at guard, he’s played at tackle for us and then what we do with him with the tight end. He’s a valuable part.”
 
(On the play-action being more effective out of the heavy package)
“Play-actions are like that. One thing about play-action passes, you are solidifying the protection quite a bit. When Jameis has protection he can normally get the ball to you so yes that’s helping an awful lot.”
 
(On the offensive line)
“We’re definitely pleased with what we’ve done with the offensive line – next guy up, just their play. For us to be a running football team, the line has played well. They haven’t made a lot of mistakes. In protection too, normally a lot of times you are either really good running the ball or at passing. This past week there was great balance and all of that starts up front with our offensive line.”
 
(On the defense)
“We’re making progress with it also. [I’m] pleased. We had four turnovers. Man that was bad on my part when I said turnovers. We had four takeaways which is a good thing and when you score you have to be pleased with that. Even though we are pleased with a lot of things, we can’t wait for this next game. There are some things that we need to clean up on both sides of the football and there’s nothing that says we won’t.”
 
(On seeing a rising confidence in his team)
“It’s rewarding but we’ve been getting better for a long time. I’m just the messenger a little bit to you. That’s what the players feel, that’s what they see. They see us getting better as a group and know that we’re not there yet. It is the next game up. We haven’t accomplished an awful lot. We realize that. You feel better about yourself when you know you are getting better and you are making progress. I’m talking individually as much as anything. I think each week we see something that they are doing a little bit better. Eventually you, to a man, know what the results will be. That’s kind of where we are right now.”
 
(On being second in the league in rushing and one of the best at takeaways)
“To be a tough football team you need to be able to run the football. Run it when they know you are going to run it. We’ve been able to do that which is a good thing. On the other side of the ball defensively, it’s just not a good defensive effort unless we can take the ball away. It’s about scoring or getting the ball back for the offense. We are getting better with those. We are not the best in the league at either one of those, but I would still say it’s trending in that direction.”
 
(On if he does something when his team is on a winning streak to prevent a letdown)
“I don’t know why a letdown comes into play. We don’t think that way. I’m just not a part of things going good, well something bad is going to happen. We don’t look at it like that. We have a two-game winning streak going and all I’m talking about is number three and everything positive. [I’m a] half full guy. The glass is always that way, so we don’t think that way at all. There’s a lot of improvement still left to go for us, so that’s what’s occupying our time.”
 
(On being good on the road)
“I think to be a good football team, number one I think it helps when you can run the football. I think it helps when you take the ball away. Going back to those two things it helps a little bit, but maybe it’s a little bit more than that. I think you have to be a decent football team to win on the road. Maybe it’s as simple as that. I don’t know the reasons why. I just know we ask the guys to show up at home, show up on the road and they’re finding a way to do that.”
 
(On if the Washington game was a turning point in the season)
“I think when you go through something like that – You never know who you are or what you are capable of doing until you go into a dark place. That was a dark place we were in there. We are going to find a lot out about our team, about us individually, about our football team and what I saw the next week is the guys not pointing, [they] went back to work. It was all on us. We’re carrying that scare still, but that’s a good thing. Yes, we definitely found out a lot about our team. Things happen sometimes. You have to move on. There is resolve to this football team.” 
 
DEFENSIVE COORDINATOR LESLIE FRAZIER
 
(Opening statement)
“Hopefully you are [all] looking forward to a great Thanksgiving. We have a big day ahead of us in our preparation for a big ballgame against Indianapolis. Tomorrow will be a lot of turkey and football. Looking forward to this ballgame, should be a good game.”
 
(On if he enjoyed watching the offense have success at Philadelphia)
“No doubt about it. Just watching that first drive of the second half – I think [the defense] went on the field with maybe six or seven minutes to go in the quarter. It’s a thing of beauty when your offense is controlling the game the way our offense did, both running and passing the football. A great day for our offense, tremendous day.”
 
(On how the team has improved from the beginning of the year)
“Last week when I was asked that question, I came back to the change at the corner position. I think that’s had a lot to do with the improvement on defense. You need to be able to mix in some man coverage and have some guys who can knock some balls down. Both Jude [Adjei-Barimah], along with Sterling [Moore], they’ve given us something outside that we hadn’t been getting in those situations. I think it’s helped our defense for sure.”
 
(On if the improved corner play has helped the rest of the defense get better)
“Without question. I haven’t been in that group that felt like Lavonte [David] wasn’t playing well. As I mentioned before, I thought Kwon Alexander making some plays had kind of taken away some of the plays that Lavonte had made in the past, more because of deficiency at Mike [linebacker] as opposed to what we have now. But Lavonte is going to make plays. He’s just too good of an athlete [not to] – evidenced by what happened on Sunday. There will be more to come. The fact that we can do some more things in the secondary, I think it’s helping our entire defense.”
 
(On linebacker Kwon Alexander possibly facing suspension)
“Everybody’s just kind of concentrating on this ball game and the guys who we have now. You deal with whatever happens down the line when it does happen – if it happens – but right now, he seems to be doing well. He’s going through a lot, dealing with personal tragedy. You get this potential news as well – he’s handled things well beyond his age.”
 
(On how the team handles suspensions like an injury)
“If it does happen, where we find ourselves in a position where we have to play without him, you would have to kind of look at it like we have an injury at the position – next man up. The next guy [would] have to play well for us and we’d expect that. We’ll see what happens.”
 
(On facing Indianapolis, where he previously coached)
“I have some good memories from Indianapolis. [I’ve] got a nice ring at my home that reminds me of that time there. Going back with a different mindset. We need to get a win on the road against a good football team that has a lot to play for, just like us. That’s where our focus is, just trying to figure out how we can slow an offense down that has been very productive for them. And a quarterback who has found the fountain of youth. He’s doing a good job – Matt Hasselbeck. It’s a good offense and a good football team. That’s kind of where the focus is.”
 
(On his experience facing Matt Hasselbeck)
“He’s had a great career, going back to his time in Seattle, then going to Tennessee and playing well there. Now helping out in Indy – undefeated as a starter for them. A guy who’s very savvy, very smart, really understands the game and gets the ball where receivers are in great position to catch the ball – throws a very catchable ball. What happens above the neck is really what is impressive about him. He does a great job of understanding defenses and a lot it has to do with his experience. He knows exactly where to go with the football. They’re doing a good job of mixing the run with the pass right now under their new coordinator. He presents some challenges, but his leadership really sticks out.”
 
(On if you want to flush Hasselbeck out of the pocket)
“When he was a little younger, he was a bit of a scrambler. You would think at this stage of his career, not as much, but like all quarterbacks, you want to find a way to harass him and make it a little bit more difficult for him to find his reads. We’ve got to do some things to get him uncomfortable. Otherwise, he’s pretty good.”
 
(On if he thinks former Tampa Bay Head Coach Tony Dungy belongs in the Hall of Fame)
“No question at all. Of course, I’m a little biased, but his credentials speak for themselves. He’s had a tremendous career in our league as a head coach and a lot of success and been a trailblazer in so many ways. Well-deserving and looking forward to when he finally makes it. Hopefully it will be this time around, but there’s no doubt he deserves to be in the Hall of Fame.”
 
(On defensive tackle Gerald McCoy having a good game at Philadelphia)
“That’s the way it is with Gerald. There are times where he’s still been disruptive because he takes up a couple of blockers. He may not get the stats because of that, but it allows a guy like Jacquies [Smith] when he’s healthy, to be able to roll. It gives Howard [Jones] an opportunity to benefit from it as well. Even a Will Gholston, those guys, they benefit. He has other ways where he can affect the game, but it is very rewarding when you see him get those numbers – up to, I think, 6.0 sacks now at this point in our season. It’s great for our team, great for him and hopefully he can get a couple more this Sunday as well.”
 
(On Indianapolis wide receiver T.Y. Hilton)
“Extremely quick, fast, dangerous once he makes the catch, good with run after the catch – he’s a very good player and one that you have to account for every time you line up on defense. We’ll have our hands full trying to contain him, but you’ve got to limit his explosive plays, but he’s one of those game-changers for sure. There [are] some good receivers in this league and he’s right up there with the best of them.”
 
OFFENSIVE COORDINATOR DIRK KOETTER
 
(On what made him gave him confidence in his offensive line from training camp and OTAs)
“A combinations of things. Very few teams have taken and invested all their money in their offensive line. There is a lot of teams in the NFL that their superstars aren’t on the offensive line. If you just look around the league and then you watch the tape from last year, they were put in a lot of situations last year, they had a lot of guys in and out there was no continuity, injuries, this guy is hurt, that guy is hurt, you are plugging them in. When you really watch the tape from the whole season you can see if they just fit together, of course we added a couple of rookies – we said we hit the jackpot on the two rookies – we also did pretty good on the two late free agent guys we signed. I just think when you look at the tape from last year, there was a lot of other factors that made the line not look as good as they probably really were. That’s a long way to go for that.”
 
(On not having the same five linemen in every game)
“Not crazy movement though. We have eight guys that we feel really good about. When you are taking a former starter in Evan Smith and inserting him back at right guard that’s not a huge change. Part of it is, who’s the guy you are putting in? How much experience does he have? What kind of a communicator is he? What kind of experience does he have? We’re really happy with how those guys are playing right now. We have depth right now, knock on wood [knocks on podium]. That’s a blessing.’
 
(On what the offensive line has done that gives him confidence in them)
“Number one, they are playing physical every week. That’s the main thing. These guys, they’re playing physical every week. That starts right up there in any level of football, how you do at the line of scrimmage. Second, they are very coachable. George [Warhop] does an awesome job of coaching them. They listen, they make adjustments very well. We’re changing stuff either inthe course of the week or during the game, they are on it. Then they are really good communicators. The line is tied in to the tight ends and the backs and the quarterbacks so it all ties together.”
 
(On if center Joe Hawley has brought an aggressive mentality to the offensive line)
“Joe is a guy that likes to play on the edge, but Evan was playing very well at center when he went out too. Evan has a toughness about him. We’re real happy with what Joe brings, but I don’t think necessarily that as a key or anything.”
 
(On tight end Cameron Brate’s overall development)
“He’s definitely developing. Cam is a guy that we almost let slip away there. We lost him for a couple weeks to New Orleans off the practice squad. Coach [Jon] Embree, our tight ends coach, has done a fantastic job with him. We really saw the potential in Cam. I was actually in the special teams meeting one day and I heard the special teams coach tell him, ‘Cam you got to think like a linebacker’ and I picked up on that. I told Cam, ‘Cam, he’s exactly right. You got to play tight end more like a linebacker.’ Cam can run a little bit, he has good ball skills, he’s getting confidence in himself, he’s improving every week, which is all you can ask from any player. That’s one of our goals for our team this week on offense, let’s continue to improve. We’ve done a good job of that so far.”
 
(On Brate’s blocking ability)
“There is not a ton of great blocking tight ends in the NFL anymore. We’re fortunate we have two pretty good ones on our team in Austin [Seferian-Jenkins] and Luke [Stocker]. I’d just say Cam is improving as a blocker. We try to get him a few more plays each week where he is at the point of attack. He had two really good plays at the point of attack last week. I would also say that’s probably not his strength right now.”
 
(On Indianapolis’ defense and if he is game planning for linebacker Robert Mathis)
“Absolutely we’re going to game plan [for Robert Mathis]. Robert Mathis, back when I was in Jacksonville and he was in his heyday in Indy, one of the best pass rushers I’ve ever seen. [He has] 124.5 sacks I think in his career, four this year. Guy is a fantastic football player. You’re crazy if you don’t game plan for him. What I see in the Colts’ defense is they’ve taken a lot of veteran players off of other teams. You can go down the list and look at the guys that we’ve competed against when they were on other teams and they have a – I think Coach [Chuck] Pagano’s word is ‘gritty’ – gritty, defensive guys that are smart and tough and it shows up on tape. This is another team I don’t think their numbers do justice. When I watch the tape, I’m like, ‘We got to be ready to roll.’ Look what this team did last week in Atlanta.”
 
(On what quarterback Jameis Winston did to execute in the red zone)
“Jameis gave guys a chance to catch the ball. One of our things is give him a chance, give him a chance, give him a chance. Know where you are going, know what the coverage is, use your indicators and then give your guys a chance like on the first fade route to Mike [Evans]. That was pretty well covered, gave him a chance. On the one to [Cameron Brate] in the middle, very well covered, [he] threw it in about the only place he could throw it and we work on that one. The one to Chuck, Charles Sims, [was] borderline dangerous, but he gave him a chance. We’d never seen the corner leak off like that. We thought the safety would go over the top. They switched it off with the corner and the safety. Chuck made a fantastic play. The one to [Vincent Jackson], a slant route, he threw it on time and he lasered it in there. I’d say more than anything he gave our guys a chance to make the play and they made them.”
 
(On his confidence in the heavy package with an extra offensive lineman)
“That’s just a part of our overall offense. The very first pass of the game that Jameis completed we were in that group. Our headphones were out, Jameis had that group on the field so he got that all orchestrated on his own. It was a pass that we had up in our scripted openers anyway. I’d say we’re probably about 50/50 run-pass when we’re in that group. What it does it usually forces the defense to balance up and calm down. Most defenses aren’t going out there and fitting all their blitzes when you have three tight ends or an extra O-lineman. They’re running some more basic stuff so it calms the defense down a little bit. The defense, it forces them to be sound in their gap control, which most defenses in the NFL are. I think the thing we’ve done a good job of is running and then play-action off those runs and it’s been a good mix for us so far.”
 
(On how long the headsets were not working)
“They were in and out for most of the first couple of series on both offense and defense. They were going in and out and the backup quarterbacks, Mike [Glennon] and Ryan [Griffin], they have earpieces and they were screaming at me, ‘We can’t hear you, we can’t hear you.’ Jameis was, ‘Hey, I can’t hear you.’ When the coach-to-quarterback system works, it’s the greatest invention in the world. When it doesn’t work, it’s heart attack time. We have a wristband that we can use, but that play clock is running fast so it’s just so much better when it’s running like it’s supposed to.”
 
(On if that was the second time the headsets malfunctioned on the road this season)
“I can’t really remember off the top of my head, but they got it fixed. We have a guy on the sideline that does a great job. They figured out what it was and they got it fixed right away.”
 
(On how Winston handles those situations when he can’t communicate with his coaches)
“He did a really nice job in this game. That’s a testament to his preparation, knowing what the openers are. He knew, based on the personnel we had in the game, we only had two plays, one run and one pass, that were in that set of plays for the openers. Leave it to a quarterback to pick the pass over the run, but it worked out good.”
 
(On what a five-touchdown performance can do for the confidence of a young quarterback)
“I think shows him that he belongs in the NFL. Jameis likes to say he’s nobody yet, but he’s going to be somebody. At some point he’s going to be somebody. Jameis continues to improve. By the same token that was one day. That was one day in the life of a rookie quarterback. Now we know where the high end is, unfortunately we also saw the bottom end of it a couple of times earlier in the season. Let’s hope we don’t see that version any more. Jameis continues to improve.”
 
(On what it means to have wide receivers Mike Evans and Vincent Jackson back in the lineup together)
“Early in the year we didn’t have Mike that one game. Now we didn’t have Vincent for a couple of games. When you have your two bookend guys out there – one of them is playing X, one of them is playing Z and then we flip them over sometimes – we can call it how we want to call it. They both know both positions. We [don’t] have to worry about moving our guys around. It’s a game plan nightmare when you’re trying to say, ‘On this play we have to get Mike here, we got to get this guy over here.’ It’s way easier on the game plan, it’s way easier on our calls. Our huddle calls are less wordy. Everything has to have another tag, another word in it, to move Mike over here, to move Vince over here. We can run our base concepts and go clear back to when we started OTAs. Like it or not, whether you are a pro or a sixth-grader, repetition and hearing that stuff the same way over and over, I’m a huge believer in that. I worked for Bob Stull who worked for Don James and that goes back to Don James, repetition, let them hear it the same way every time.”
 
(On how Jackson influences Evans)
“Mike is still learning. Vincent is one of our captains. Vincent along with Logan [Mankins] are our two captains on offense. I think Vincent is not only a steady influence on Mike, but on pretty much everybody on offense. It’s just a good feeling seeing 83 out there and knowing we have another playmaker on the field. He’s proven he can do it over many years, so not only for Mike, for Adam [Humphries], for [Donteea Dye], for Jameis [Winston], for Dirk [Koetter], for everybody else. It’s nice to have that guy out there.”
 
(On still being relevant in the playoff picture and if it has an impact in the locker room)
“That’s a question you need to ask when you go in the locker room. From a coach it’s week to week. Last week was great. When we get to the end of the season, we’ll go back and go ‘Man that was a good day.’ But, that day is over. Now it’s Wednesday of Indy week. I think Coach [Lovie] Smith does an awesome job of letting the team know where we stand. He shows us where we are in the standing, lets us know that we’re relevant, we’re in it. We are. Is that more exciting? Sure it is, but we’re just trying to get better and stay in our lane and keep doing things we do well.”
 
QUARTERBACK JAMEIS WINSTON
 
(On adding to their two-game win streak and making a push for the playoffs)
“That’s the mentality that we have. Every game we want to get better and better and of course we want to bring more wins here, but it’s one game at a time. When I first got into the league I learned quickly that you have to take it one game at a time and you can never focus on your last game. You always have to focus on your next game.”
 
(On if anything is possible for this team)
“Anything is possible. We worked hard since training camp, since OTAs, and definitely it’s in our hands.”
 
(On if he thinks he can break the record for most touchdown passes by a rookie)
“I just want to get wins. I don’t really care about statistical things. I just want to limited turnovers and keep the team chemistry going. My individual goals aren’t even important to my individual responsibility as quarterback to this team.”
 
(On using the heavy package and having an extra offensive lineman or tight end)
“You just can do so many things out of it, because, first, we have tight ends that can catch the ball, we have tight ends that can stretch the field vertically and we have two great running backs. You add the advantage of having an extra lineman that’s blocking and also you have an extra lineman that’s blocking for protection in case we do a bootleg or a straight drop back pass. That formation, that personnel just adds so much to the game.”
 
(On having headset issues and what it was like for him not being able to communicate with his coaches)
“The way Coach [Dirk] Koetter trains us is we have to know our personnel groupings, we have to know our play calls. Just thinking about the situation and knowing the game plan I can think about the few plays that we had in those situations, so I just went off of the preparation that we prepare every day in the team meeting room.”
 
(On his comfort level in running the offense without communication with his coaches)
“I have a really good offensive coordinator and he’s going to keep me prepared. One thing during the week Coach [Dirk] Koetter is going to keep me prepared for any situation. He’s going got keep the whole offense prepared for any situation.”
 
(On Indianapolis)
“I see another football team that is going to be ready to play. People talk about what they do on defense. They do what they do and on offense we have to do what we do so we can try and get a win.”
 
(On how he matches up what his offense does to the defense)
“Do what we do better than them. That’s the main thing. We know they have a great defense. They have a great front four. I look forward to playing against Robert Mathis. What an amazing player. Vontae Davis is another amazing player at cornerback. We’re going to be prepared, we’re going to stick to our game plan and do what we have to do.”
 
(On tight end Cameron Brate)
‘When you look at one of our players you have to think about their position coach and their tight end room. When we lost Austin Seferian-Jenkins early in the season, it was hurtful for me because Austin was my guy, but Cam Brate, Brandon Myers, Luke Stocker stepped up and really haven’t missed a beat. Cam was in the situation where during the season when we went to New Orleans, he actually went to New Orleans for a game and he came back with us. Ever since he came back we called him a traitor because he went to a division team, but we got him back and we’re happy to have Cam. He’s playing confident and is playing great.”
 
(On Brate going to college at Harvard)
“Yeah we give him grief sometimes because Cam does have his blonde moments at times. No offense to any blondes. I’m serious. Cam is a very bright guy and he works hard. When I come up here in the morning, he gets here close to the time that the quarterbacks get here and he’s always working, always getting his body right and he’s definitely cherishing and definitely taking advantage of this opportunity that he has.”
 
(On if it is a coincidence that he had his best statistical game when wide receivers Mike Evans and Vincent Jackson were both playing)
“I don’t know about missing weapons, because those other guys that came in they did a great job. But basically getting that team feeling back that we had in OTAs, that chemistry that we did develop that we kind of lost early in the season when we lost Austin [Seferian-Jenkins] and eventually Vince, but having him back is just having one of your best guys back. It’s like having another Logan Mankins on the field. That’s always going to help you out because Vince is definitely one of our leaders and he’s one of our veterans that as young players we go to especially during the battle of the game to seek for any wisdom or, ‘what is he doing in this situation,’ so we can build off him.”
 
(On an offensive coordinator and quarterback being on the same page to the point where they know what the other is thinking)
“It can be like that, but the way Coach [Dirk] Koetter runs things is it’s not just me and him one-on-one, it’s everybody. He gets everybody involved and that’s why I believe that this offense is so close. That’s why we love each other. When you see Doug Martin run that football, if anybody takes a cheap shot on him you see the whole team with Doug like, ‘Get off Doug.’ If I’m back there – offensive line doing a great job protecting me, so we haven’t had that many sacks – but if I get hit, if I get touched those offensive linemen, even the running backs those are going to be the first people to jump up and say, ‘Hey, get off our quarterback.’ That’s the culture and that’s the atmosphere that Coach Koetter has built here.”
 
(On offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter’s teaching methods)
“He’s our coach. Everything you can ask for in a coach he does it.”
 
(On what throwing five touchdowns in a game does for his confidence)
“What was so special about that day was it was at the Eagles. That was a dream for me because I always wanted to play there and let alone get a victory in there. That was very important to me to be on the Eagles’ field. Other than that it was just another game. You can’t look at it and be like, ‘Oh I had a good game. Okay I have to move to the next game.’ Preparation is everything so that game is out of my mind and I’m on to the next one.”
 
(On his Thanksgiving memories)
“Watching football on Thanksgiving was always important, but I was too busy outside playing backyard football. I was outside doing my own thing. In little league football we have these things called Turkey Bowl, so we actually were playing football on the same exact day as the NFL teams. I was having my little league NFL games at the same time as the big guys.”
 
(On Tampa Bay getting off to fast starts when on the road)
“It’s nothing different really. I think it’s just a different mentality when you are on the road. When you are home you get the sense of comfort because we have our fans and we have everyone behind us. When you are on the road, Tampa Bay is already viewed as the lower team to everybody so we have a bigger chip on our shoulder going on the road because we know we have to bring our A-game to have to go in somebody else’s house and possibly beat them.”
 
(On blocking for his running backs)
“I didn’t really block that time. I did a better job. I kind of got in the way. So that shows you that I’m really learning not to throw my body in there. It was third-and-one and I will take that yelling [from the coaches] every single time. If it’s me and the defensive end right there and Doug Martin needs to get one yard and I can help him get one yard, I’m going to have to take that yelling. I’m sorry.”
 
(On Indianapolis quarterback Andrew Luck not playing due to an injury that occurred when he was scrambling)
“This is what this game is about. The way that I’ve been built, the way that I’ve been trained is to give my all every single play. If I have a brother that needs my help, just like those offensive linemen are basically putting their lives on the line every single play, I’m going to be there for my brothers. I’m going to do. That’s just how I was born, it’s how I was raised. That’s how I played in my turkey bowls.”
 
(On Indianapolis quarterback Andrew Luck)
“I love his game, the way he competes. When you look at a quarterback, you look at how the team views him and the way that his team views him and follows him is amazing. That’s why young guys like me look up to Andrew Luck even they are three, four years ahead of me because we see him setting the foundation and showing us how to do things.”
 
(On Indianapolis quarterback Matt Hasselbeck)
I remember Matt Hasselbeck most during his Seahawks days. It definitely will be an honor to play against him. One thing about playing against old people is I could say that he’s balding, but we have so many baldheaded 20-year-olds on this roster I can’t even make any funny jokes about it. He looks better at the age of 40 than some of the young guys on our team.”
 
(On Tampa Bay embracing the underdog role)
“As a winner, I will never relish an underdog role, but I will do everything I can to prove to everyone that I’m not the underdog. I’m pretty sure that this team has the same mentality. We don’t like being placed in the same category as an underdog.”
 
LINEBACKER LAVONTE DAVID
 
(On why the defense is clicking)
"I just think everybody's trusting each other, everybody's working together and playing hard. These last couple of weeks have been good but now we just need to keep it going. We set a standard out there and now we've got to get better."
 
(On how getting back into the playoff race has affected the team's attitude)
"All the guys have something to play for, but right now it's just added a little flavor to it. We're trying to get to where we want to go. We have to keep working the way we've been working week-in and week-out. We're just going to start today, take it one day at a time and when Sunday comes do our best."
 
(On if Tampa Bay can be a playoff team)
"Yeah, I think so, man, I think so. We've been going through a whole lot these past couple years, and now we're in a situation where positive things are happening and we can finally try to take advantage of it. That's the mindset right now. But like I said, we're not looking ahead. We're focused on the right-now. We're going to go out there and start our work for the Colts."
 
(On seeing the team come together into a winning franchise)
"It's coming along. At the end of the day, we've still got room for improvement. We've got to keep on going out there and working like we've got a chip on our shoulder, like always. Five-and-five is just five-and-five."
 
(On if the playoffs are possible)
"It's possible. Right now, we're not looking ahead or anything. At the end of the day, at the end of the year, whenever that time is, whatever our record is hopefully we can get in the playoffs. But right now we're just trying to do what we do."
 
(On winning the NFC Defensive Player of the Week award)
"Obviously, it's a team honor. You've got to take your hat off to all 11 guys out there for allowing me to play the way I play, and the coaches for putting me in position to make plays. That's what happened last Sunday and I'm grateful for it."
 
(On scoring his first NFL touchdown)
"It was amazing, man, a blessing. It was a relief to finally get in there. I'm very happy. It felt really good."
 
(On if there's a tendency to try to do too much after signing a new contract)
"I think so, I think so. There's added expectations from everybody outside, and also from yourself. That's why I just had to take a step back and visualize everything. I wasn't playing my game the way I usually play. I was able to analyze myself, study myself, calm down, let the game come to me and that's what happened."
 
(On when he changed his approach)
"After that game, after the Giants game. I could just calm down. I had to take it upon myself to trust my teammates, trust that everybody was going to do what they're supposed to do. That's what's been happening so far, and I think that's where the success has come from, not for just me but everybody trusting their teammates and knowing that guys are going to be in the right spot."
 
(On the team having a lot of doubters)
"That's the mental thing, everybody believing in what's going on in this locker room, and we're trying to stick to that."
 
RUNNING BACK DOUG MARTIN
 
(On the offensive line and whether he owes them something special for their role in his success)
“I ought to give them something special for this past week. They did an awesome job keeping those holes open and staying on guys. The tight ends and the receivers as well – emphasize the outside guys getting involved with the run game. Jorvorskie Lane did a good job of blocking guys. They’re doing an awesome job so far and I’m proud of them.”
 
(On how it feels to know that the offensive line will follow him downfield to continue helping to block)
“It feels good. It feels like my brothers are coming behind me and getting in on the fight. If one guy’s getting in a fight, then everybody comes in to help you. That’s the type of feeling that I have. I go out to eat with these guys every week on Thursdays and we have a tight bond. They have a good chemistry and it’s a good thing to have.”
 
(On if the team has a mentality of ‘Why not us?’ when it comes to looking down the stretch at a possible playoff spot)
“That is kind of our mentality. We believe we are a good team – that we’re a great team – and we’ve proved it and we’re just going to try to take this momentum and take it to the next game and the next game and the next game. We’ll just take it one game at a time, though, and we’re going to focus on the Colts and see what happens.”
 
(On reaching the end of his contract and looking forward to the future)
“I love Tampa. I built a house here, so I love it here.”
 
(On if Tampa Bay is his first priority for signing)
“Yes.”
 
(On if money will be a factor)
“That will take care of itself. I’m just going to go out there and just do my job on the field. If I do my job, everything else will fall into place.”
 
(On if he built his house expecting to play for Tampa Bay for a long period of time)
“I just like it here. It’s a good city.”
 
(On whether he hopes to play for Tampa Bay for a long time)
“I do. It’s my fourth year here and I’ve got a lot of relationships out here and, like I said, I just love Tampa. Love it.”
 
(On whether he believes in the importance of building with franchise players)
“I definitely do, yes.”
 
(On what the team needs to do to ensure it continues finding success down the stretch)
“Don’t get complacent. Don’t let the outside noise brush the chip off your shoulder. We just have to keep practicing hard. We have to forget about the last game. That was last week. We’re moving on to the Colts. It’s a new game, new week, new opponent.”
 
(On how much football he watched on Thanksgiving Day as a child)
“I was too busy eating. I watched a little bit, but eating, definitely, was my priority.”
 
(On whether he tries to soak in being shown on NFL highlight shows after a big game)
“Yeah, I soaked it in on Monday and little bit on Tuesday. But it’s Wednesday and we’re focusing on a new opponent. It happened last week and it’s on to this new week, so I can’t dwell on it. That was last week.”
 
(On whether his game against Philadelphia on Sunday or against Oakland in 2012 was more satisfying)
“The Oakland game had to be more satisfying. That was in my hometown and I scored four touchdowns. I came up short a little bit on the last game, but we got the W, so that’s the most important statistic.”
 
(On whether there is an adjustment period working behind new offensive linemen and if he is comfortable with the current lineup)
“I’m very comfortable running behind those guys. Smart guys. We have some injured guys, people filling in for each other, and they’re filling in just fine, carrying the flag just fine. When you know your linemen will stay on guys, I can go back there and check all my options – backside, frontside. So, yeah, I definitely feel comfortable.”
 
(On running behind a jumbo package)
“The more blockers the better (laughing).”
 
(On if the fact that Tampa Bay can both run and throw helps open up different opportunities)
“Definitely. The run game and pass game work off each other. When Winston’s having a good day, then I’m most likely going to have a good day and vice versa. We’re a great offense. We still have room to improve, but we’re definitely going to do some things.”
 
(On preferring grass or turf)
“Turf tends to be faster, but it’s also hard on the knees. So they both have their pros and cons. I really don’t mind.”
 
(On being near to recording a 1,000-yard season)
“I’m not a big statistics guy. Like I said before, if I go out there and do my job and play hard, the stats will come to me, the yards will come, and that’s what happened [on Sunday]. I didn’t even know I had run for that much until the fourth quarter, so I just let the game come to me.”
 
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