Below is a selection of Tampa Bay Buccaneers quotes from today’s earlier media availability:
Head Coach Dirk Koetter
Wide Receiver Mike Evans
HEAD COACH DIRK KOETTER
(On how wide receiver Josh Huff looked throughout the week)
"He looked fine. He looked fine as a practice squad guy, so he looked fine."
(On if Huff would remain on the practice squad this weekend)
(On if center Ben Gottschalk is an option to fill the open spot on the roster)
"Yep, he would be an option. There are a couple different ways we could go on that. Really the guy we haven't replaced is [defensive end] Howard Jones. It's all going to come down to the health of that O-Line. Kevin Pamphile is going to be out this game; he's still in the concussion protocol. So it will all come down to the health of Joe Hawley."
(On center Joe Hawley's status)
"Joe's limited. In Joe's case it's a little bit of an accumulation of things. Joe's always been able to bounce back and make it back, but he has been limited this week. Joe's played a lot of games; we'll just have to see. We're still 48 hours away, 48 hours away from kickoff. We'll have to just see how that goes. If not, Evan Smith is more than capable to step in there at center and we'll see how it goes."
(On if this is a situation that shows the offensive line's depth)
"Exactly. Teams that can keep the same five are usually the most successful, and this will be our first test of that this season."
(On what is the key for offensive lineman Caleb Benenoch if he's pressed into a larger role)
"I think any player – not just Caleb but any player that's out there – whenever their opportunity comes up it's just getting over the excitement and the nerves of, 'Hey this is my first NFL game and I'm not standing on the sideline watching.' He didn't play a lot in the preseason, so just getting over [that]. These guys have all played a lot of football and Caleb, coming out of UCLA, played at a high level, played against good teams. The NFL, and the whole game-day routine, seeing the guys you're playing against on the other side, being able to handle the calls, just getting over the nerves at the start of the game. I think after that it settles into football."
(On if the Buccaneers have played at the same level in the second halves of games)
"You caught me off-guard on that. I'd have to look at it. I'm not sure. I don't know the answer. Whatever I said I'd be making it up."
(On running back Mike James)
"Mike's one of those guys that's just a joy to be around. He's always got a smile on his face, he always brings energy. Mike's one of those guys that you cheer for. He's the right kind of guy. You want guys like him on your team. Like a lot of those guys that are borderline – if they're going to be there how big is their role? – when they get their chance, you want them to do well. You're cheering for those guys. It's a production business for all of us, of course."
(On if running back Doug Martin will be a game-day decision)
"Yeah, Doug will go right up to the [deadline]. Doug did more every day this week, he increased a little bit more. Officially, as we stand here right now, officially he's still not cleared. But there's still a chance. Again, the 48 hours – we'll see what happens there."
WIDE RECEIVER MIKE EVANS
(On his one-handed sideline catch against Atlanta last week)
“We practice those things and it just happened. It stuck to my glove and I took a nice hit, that’s pretty much it.”
(On if he saw the hit coming after the one-handed catch)
“Yeah, I didn’t see him because I had to contort my body and then he came and nice hit.”
(On how he’s feeling)
“I feel good. I felt fine after the hit.”
(On if his ability to move around has helped him get open when he’s double-teamed)
“Absolutely. They don’t know where I’m at, they can’t just key on one side of the field. I like when I get doubled because that opens up for my other teammates and we’ll live with that and I’ll live with that.”
(On if had a concussion after the Atlanta game)
“No, I didn’t have a concussion. But, it’s up to them, so they put me in the protocol, but I knew that I didn’t have a concussion.”
(On if he appreciates that the medical staff was being extra cautious)
“Yeah, I appreciate it, but I just know my body and I didn’t have a concussion.”
(On if he has improved from last season)
“I’ve improved, of course, but I’m still not where I want to be. I’ll be there; we’ve got a lot of games left, trying to make this playoff push. I can be better and I think I can do it.”
(On where he wants to improve)
“I just want to be better. In my route running, blocking, everything. Fatigue, I get tired too fast, I need to step that up.”
(On he and quarterback Jameis Winston carrying a greater load on offense, with all of the injuries to running backs this season)
“It’ll be easy football, me and him can just connect and things like that and take a load off everybody else, then that would be great. We do that some games – if I’m hot, he’ll keep feeding me and I think it helps our team.”
(On what it means to him to be such a big part of the offense with all of the injuries)
“It’s been unfortunate and it’s been like this for the last three seasons. But, you can’t do anything about it, you’ve just got to play. And [Head] Coach Dirk [Koetter] is putting me in great spots to create mismatches and things like that and win and I’m just going to come every week and play my hardest and try to give my team the best chance to win.”
(On what drives him to be one of the best receivers in the league)
“I want to be, of course. I see all the other great receivers out there and I’m just trying to match them and be better than them. And I have the tools to do it, God gave me this gift and I just have to work hard and the rest will come.”
(On if former NFL wide receiver Randy Moss is the gold standard for him)
“Yeah, I think he’s the greatest receiver ever, so shoutout Moss.”