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17 October 2016

Transcript: Tampa Bay Buccaneers 2016 Media Availability (10/17/16)

Below is a selection of Tampa Bay Buccaneers quotes from today’s earlier media availability:
Head Coach Dirk Koetter
Cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III
Defensive Tackle Clinton McDonald
Wide Receiver Louis Murphy
Tackle Donovan Smith
(On the first practice after the Bye Week)
“Well they had a lot of energy and it was great to get some guys out there that we hadn’t had out there for a while. On these extra practices, we tend to give more reps to our younger guys, but our younger guys have been playing a lot anyway. We give our other quarterbacks a little bit more work, we give a little bit more attention to our individual [drills], we spend a little more time in individual. We’re able to do a couple crossovers drills that we wanted to work on today where we go Bucs against Bucs and just take a little segment out and work on it. There’s no game plan involved yet, so I enjoy those practices. The energy was high and I thought we got something done.”
(On if he is more likely to rest an injured player who is on the bubble during weeks with an extra practice)
“Absolutely and we did that today. We held several guys out. We got a few guys back out there, [tight end] Luke Stocker was back out there, [wide receiver] Cecil Shorts was back out there. [Wide receiver] Louis Murphy now has started the – I don’t know [what] the term for it is – but I think he’s got 21 days where we can practice him before we have to activate him at some point, but it was great to see ‘Murph’ out there.”
(On what he has seen from Murphy throughout his rehab process)
“That’s one thing that the fans and the media don’t see. When a guy has a significant injury like he had – an ACL – it’s a long, long, hard road back. Those guys spend hours and hours and hours in the training room working with the trainers, in the weight room, then the trainers take them out on the field and they do field drills forever. Just because of where our offices are located, I’ve seen ‘Murph’ out there so many times. And the players feel like they’re letting their teammates down, they feel like they’re letting the fans down, their families down, they go through ups and downs emotionally, they think they’re going to get cleared on this date and they don’t get cleared. It’s just a long, tough road. You pretty much ask any player that’s ever been injured for a prolonged period of time and they feel like they’ve been shipped out to some outer planet and aren’t really a part of the team anymore. You try to talk to them and say, ‘You can’t let this affect you,’ but it does.”
(On Murphy still being around the team while he was injured)
“Again, to be perfectly honest, that probably depends on his mood that day. Again as I just said, there’s days when they’re having good days and it’s great to have him out there. There’s days when they’re not having good days and they can be a little bit of a pain in the butt, to be honest with you.”
(On if Murphy was eager to get back on the field)
“Oh absolutely, there is no doubt. I always get a little bit of a chuckle because I think there’s a misnomer out there that guys like missing practice and like being hurt. These are professional football players, they want to play football and a great example – we just talked about the one with Louis Murphy, he’s been dying to get back out there – but [center] Joe Hawley in the game the other night. Heck, we thought he blew his knee. At first we thought he was out for the year and next thing you know he’s back out there playing. Then they told him he had to go out to get checked for a concussion and then he was back in there again. So it would’ve been easy for him at any point there to say, ‘I’m done for the night.’”
(On what he liked about the first five games of the season)
“I like that our guys are competing hard. Our guys, they’re coming to work, they’re learning what they have to do and they’re trying to do it. As a coach, when you have guys freelancing or going off the reservation and they’re not trying to do what they’re supposed to do, that’s frustrating. When guys are trying to do what they’re coached to do, they’re competing, they’re giving good effort – you’re going to get beat sometimes and obviously we come in here and we detail why we got beat. Everybody would like to be 5-0, not many teams are. We’ve also done a good job of weathering some difficult storms, from an injury standpoint. It’s one thing to test your depth when your injuries are spread out across the team, but we’ve been hit particularly hard at two positions: defensive line and running back. So I’m proud of the way our guys have hung in there. We’ve had guys step up at both positions. I think you just look around as a league – other than two or three that have jumped out to really fast starts – I think the league has really shrunk up and come back together. Fortunately we were able to get that win last Monday night and I think our guys can see the light that if we play good football, we play complementary football, we don’t turn it over, we get some takeaways on the other side, that we can be right there.”
(On how big of a challenge it is to have the next three games spread over just 12 days)
“You’re getting ahead of yourself. We just came off five days off for the players and they’re going to have another day off tomorrow, so you said it right in your opening statement there. The only thing that’s important right now is San Francisco and it’s a tough situation in and of itself because it’s a West Coast trip. The three hour time zone changes are difficult trips. The hard part of what you’re talking about doesn’t come until that third week, when you play the Thursday Night game. You’ve heard all the talk about Thursday Night Football, this and that, but the reward for playing on Thursday Night is you get two days off the next week. But we don’t have three games – even though by math we do have that – but the next two weeks are just regular weeks and then we have a Thursday Night game.”
(On if he gave the team any guidance before they broke for the Bye Week)
“I did, I gave them a huge pep talk, I hope they listened.”
(On if he gave himself a pep talk before the Bye Week)
“I give myself pep talks almost every day. Some days they work better than others.”
(On what he needs to be better at after his first five games as an NFL head coach)
“[Laughs] I need to be better at everything.”
(On running back Antone Smith)
“We’re in a situation where we need depth and we need experience. When we were at that game the other night at Carolina, we had Jacquizz [Rodgers] and two undrafted rookies who hadn’t really played much in the NFL. We’re in the heart of our schedule, we need guys that have played. What Antone brings is he brings experience and he brings speed, he’s also an excellent special teams player. When you get to the point where you’re looking at that list – and [General Manager] Jason [Licht] and the personnel staff do a great job of always having a list by position of who’s available – if those guys don’t have a strong feel for a guy based on their grades, I think as a coach, guys that you know, at least you know what they are, there’s no unknown. I can go in and say, ‘Alright, he can learn it, he can play on special teams. Here’s his strengths and weaknesses on offense.’ And as a coach, you can build around what you know. It’s the unknowns that are hard to plan for.”
(On the running back situation when Doug Martin returns from injury)
“When Doug comes back, he’ll be the main guy, there’s no question about that.”
(On the role Rodgers will have when Martin returns)
“I think when we’re at full strength, Doug and ‘Chuck’ [running back Charles Sims], I think they complement each other very well. Doug’s our ‘between the tackles, first and second-down’ back. Charles is our ‘Do everything, Mr. Inside, Mr. Outside, catch passes, third-down’ back. Jacquizz is probably closer to Doug than he is Chuck and going into that game last week, we really didn’t plan for him to have 30 touches, but I would’ve said 18-20 would’ve been the number we probably had going in. But he was hot and we kept giving it to him. We planned to use Peyton a little bit more than we did, but again, when you’re at the game and you’re on the sideline – after we had the very hot 4:00 games here, it was a gorgeous night. We had what somebody from Idaho would call ‘football weather’ and it was cool, it was fun to be out there and Jacquizz wasn’t showing any signs of wearing down. When a guy gets in a zone like that and he’s hot, we just decided to keep rolling with him.”
(On if there is any update on injured guard J.R. Sweezy)
“It’s a medical issue. He’s not ready to be back out there yet and that’s – all decisions like that are decided on by our medical staff and once a guy’s cleared to go out there, heck, we’re anxious to get him out there. But all of these injuries have different timelines, some have setbacks, some heal faster, some don’t work out the way it was originally planned and that’s a little bit over my head. I go by what our medical staff tells me, that’s all you can do. Once a guy’s cleared and he’s cleared to go out there and play, we’re going to start using him as soon as we can.”
(On if has any indication when Sweezy would be able to play)
“I do not.”
(On what he liked about quarterback Jameis Winson’s performance against Carolina)
“He made the throws in the clutch when he needed to at the end of the game. Those three big third-down conversions in that last drive and Jameis made the plays that he needed to make and he didn’t make plays that have been getting us in trouble. That’s a starting point. I know Jameis can play better than he played on Monday night. We saw it this year in the Atlanta game, he played fantastic. I know it was this time last year that Jameis went on about a five or six game roll and I think the week off to – Jameis has been hearing it from everybody. Again, we talk about it all the time, no one has higher expectations for him than he does and we also have very high expectations for him. I fully anticipate Jameis to take it from there, use that as a spring board into improving and getting better and better here as the season goes on.”
(On if mandates any rules for himself during the Bye Week)
“[Laughs] I don’t mandate any, but there was time for rest and time for a little work too, so it was good. But it’s great to be back and can’t wait to get started on San Francisco.”
(On if he feels the team is in a good position to make a run)
“Of course, there’s no time like the present. Like I said earlier, for us, we’ve got to focus on us. We’ve got to focus on what we’ve got to do to get better and hopefully the Sunday’s will pay off for us.”
(On if the secondary’s success against Carolina is a sign that the unit is “starting to gel”)
“In a sense. We didn’t touch the ball in the secondary the first four games. So, it was a point of emphasis and we had to get our hand on the ball in order for us to win and that’s what we did. We took responsibility for ourselves and tried to make plays.”
(On if he feels the defense is getting more comfortable with Defensive Coordinator Mike Smith’s scheme)
“Of course. As with time, we’re getting comfortable. You can tell the guys are getting comfortable with the defense and as far as things that we have to do. I’m excited and hopefully it does work out for us.”
(On if being from Tampa has helped his transition into the NFL)
“I think it definitely made it easier. I didn’t have to come into a new city. I know where everything’s at – Mom is right down the street, so for me, it was easier, it was definitely easier. Hopefully, I can be that [hometown] hero one day.”
(On San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick and the challenges of having to prepare for Kaepernick and Blaine Gabbert)
“Playing against that guy for three years straight when I played in Seattle, I know what type of attributes he has, as far as his physicality, his speed, his agility, his elusiveness. But, at the same time, having another quarterback in the saddle ready to play and ready to go out there and attack, it’s a double threat. But, at the same time, we’re in the NFL, we’re professionals. So, everybody that’s on the field has to prepare in a way in the manner the coaches have for us to prepare. Whether it’s watching film on both of the guys or watching film on the offensive linemen or watching film on their defense. Whatever way that we’ve got to prepare as a team, that’s the kind of approach we’ve got to take it as knowing they’ve got a dual threat at the quarterback position. It has to resonate in our mind to say, ‘You know what? We’ve got to dominate up front.’”
(On if he feels the team is “ready to get on a roll”)
“It definitely feels like that. The guys are very encouraged and very enthusiastic about being here and about being on the team at this point in time. Especially coming off a victory against Carolina in Carolina – that team beat us six years in a row and to be able to overcome that feat with the guys that we had on the field who [did] a great and amazing job on the field while they were out there. Getting guys back healthy – we feel very encouraged about going back out next week and trying to get the victory.”
(On if as a veteran he feels a sense of pride when younger players fill in for injured players and have success)
“I wouldn’t say so much pride for myself, but a sense of responsibility that the guys are going to go on that field and play on Sunday and in [the defensive line] room, us older guys, we’ve got to take it upon ourselves to get the guys right. Not just the coaching staff – which they do a great job as well. But, as older guys, it’s always our job if it’s our team, it’s still our team. We’ve got to take a sense of responsibility in what we do and how we coach these guys and how we encourage and how we lead in our room.”
(On how he feels, having returned to practice)
"I feel great. I feel great, man, all thanks to God and to the training staff – [Head Athletic Trainer] Bobby [Slater], [trainers] Dutchy [Scott DeGraff], Stan [Delva], John [Ames], all those guys. They've been working with me for the last year, so to finally get out there and test it feels great."
(On anticipating his return to the field)
"I couldn't sleep during the bye week. I was resting all bye week, just itching for Monday to come. I didn't get too much sleep last night. I'm just glad to be back. I'm glad to be with my teammates, just glad to be back out there in the huddle."
(On how his knee felt during practice)
"It felt great. It felt great. No real issues. We attacked rehab really hard. Those days where I felt like not pushing, they pushed me to the limit. I feel great. I can't really say anything else – I feel great, thanks to the training staff."
(On staying involved with the team during his rehab)
"It was very important. As one of the vets in the group I just wanted to be able to encourage the other guys, give them my insight on what I see from a vet's standpoint and also just seeing the defense, seeing the coverages. Also, for myself, mentally staying in it [was important], not being away, staying here so I could continue to take mental reps every play. Every time I was out at practice I was watching where I would be at. I would be X one day, Z one day, F one day, so I said, 'Okay, I'm going to take all these reps mentally so I don't lose that.'"
(On if having chemistry with quarterback Jameis Winston before his injury will help him get back into the mix)
"Oh, for sure. We worked in the offseason, his first year and this past year. I couldn't really routes but I was catching balls with him and I think that chemistry is still there. I've just got to keep working, man, keep chopping at the wood."
(On if he spoke with anybody else who had returned from an ACL injury)
"For sure. I talked to Thomas Davis, I talked to Adrian Peterson. I talked to those guys and got their insight. Jordy Nelson – I talked to those guys to see what they did to get back. They just all had encouraging words. They said it's going to be tough but you can do it, so it was good to talk to those guys."
(On what he wants to bring to the team)
"I just want to play my role, do what I can do. Everybody's going to do their job and I'm just going to do my job the best I can do it. That's pretty much it – be the leader that God's calling me to be and just helping where I can help out."
(On what he sees in the current team)
"We can be really good. We can be a great team, we've just got to keep going. Keep going. It's a long season, we've got 11 games left, second in the division. There's a lot of ball left to be played so we've got to keep chopping at the wood."
(On the player’s break during the Bye Week)
“The break was good. It allowed us to get back with our families, see our families, see our loved ones and just get our bodies back. Take that extra step at massages and stuff like that, getting stretched out and what not, getting our legs back.”
(On getting a win against Carolina going into the Bye Week)
“It was really good. Beating a division team on the road is huge, especially on Monday Night Football and going into the Bye Week. It did show us who we are as a team and what we can be for the rest of the season and we just want to build on it.”
(On if he feels the team is “ready to get on a roll”)
“I think every team in the NFL wants to get on a roll. It’s just a matter of what you do in terms of taking that extra step to get it going. It’s definitely the same goal across the league in terms of getting things going and like I said, we’re going to come in and work on Wednesday and get after it.”
(On the team’s success running the ball against Carolina)
“It felt good to run the football. As offensive linemen, obviously we like to get after it, butt heads a little bit. It felt good and you just have to take your hats off to the two running backs, Peyton [Barber] and really Jacquizz [Rodgers]. They did a great job in making us look good [laughs].”

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