Below is a selection of Tampa Bay Buccaneers quotes from today’s earlier media availability:
Head Coach Dirk Koetter
Linebacker Lavonte David
Wide Receiver Josh Huff
HEAD COACH DIRK KOETTER
(On if there is an update on Doug Martin's status)
"No, no information for you guys. I'm sorry, but we'll put an injury report out on Wednesday like we're required to."
(On what would make him think Martin might be close to returning)
"Again, I get my information from – my information is passed on to me from our medical staff. That's all I can go by."
(On if multiple running backs having success is a credit to the offensive line)
"Yeah, I think the offensive line's done a good job. Now, we can definitely play better. That's one thing we used this little mini-bye week [for], to do a lot of work studying ourselves, and we definitely can play better."
(On what he found during that evaluation)
"That we can play better. That we can play better and we can coach better. We addressed a lot of that stuff this morning. That's why it was great to have an extra day before we have to get knee-deep in Chicago."
(On if rookie running back Peyton Barber could carry the load if needed)
"Well, any of those guys – Peyton, Mike [James], Russ Hansbrough – whoever we've got up there. Like I've said every time, if they're up they're going to play a role."
(On what needs to change the most in the second half of the season)
"I think the biggest issue is turnovers and penalties on offense and communication on defense. I think those are the areas that we need to make the biggest improvement on."
(On quarterback Jameis Winston cutting down on interceptions)
"Much better, much better. We had the two fumbles [against Atlanta], two fumbles that resulted in six points. The 'D' did a good job in those sudden-change situations but we can't – we fumbled it once on quarterback sneak and we fumbled it, another one, just on the handoff mesh, when we had bad communication. The two guys were thinking it was a different play and that's just not going to work."
(On how Winston is throwing fewer interceptions)
"He's going through his progressions better. He's seeing the defense, going through his progressions better and taking what the defense gives him. He's doing a good job of that."
(On if he's amazed that Winston can ‘flip the switch’ and stop throwing interceptions)
"Yeah, I'm not sure. That would be something you need to ask him. I don't believe in flipping switches, so I don't think it's that."
(On signing wide receiver Josh Huff to the practice squad and the plans for him going forward)
"It's simple – we signed him to the practice squad, and that's it. All your practice squad guys are developmental guys that you're trying to look at. We had Josh in the Senior Bowl a few years ago when I was coaching in Atlanta. Other than that, we've got 10 guys on our practice squad and we're trying to develop all those guys into guys that could possibly help us at some point down the road."
(On what Huff can bring to a team)
"The things he was doing well, he was doing well on special teams, mostly. I think he had 13 catches as a receiver. He was doing well on teams as a cover man and a return man. Again, he's a guy, like all these guys, he had a strong college career. He was a guy that was available and we're going to take a look at him on the practice squad. Just like Russ Hansbrough's going to get moved up this week, we've had many guys [promoted from the practice squad]. Peyton Barber's been up and down. We've had guys that have done it before; now it's his time."
(On Winston doing well on plays that take him outside the pocket)
"He's done a really good job outside the pocket. His confidence is in that he's seeing the field. He's keeping his eyes downfield, he's making good decisions on when to throw and when to run, and for the most part when he does run he's making good decisions on when to get down. Now, that's not one hundred percent, but that's the biggest issue with Jameis outside the pocket – we want him to take less hits. That's a work in progress."
(On if he's amazed that wide receiver Mike Evans is still producing despite double teams)
"I wouldn't say 'amazed.' Give credit to Mike. Mike was the [seventh] overall pick in the draft, so he's playing to his talent level. That's what we want all of our guys to do. Mike's a very, very talented player and he's playing that way. That's what professional football is all about. So hat's off to Mike. He's been his own worst critic, he's worked on his weaknesses and he probably exemplifies what we'd like every player to be playing like right now."
(On Evans stepping up his game despite extra attention from defenders)
"Defenses are always going to try to take away your best players. They're going to try to take away the things you do best. One thing with Vincent [Jackson] down, it's allowed us to move Mike around a little bit more, so if they are going to double him, it's a little bit harder to find him."
(On if Winston is still fine, health-wise, as he said on Friday)
(On if Winston has surprised him with his athleticism and success outside the pocket)
"He's better at that than I would have thought coming out of college. I think pretty much everybody thought in college that he was primarily a pocket passer. And we still have work to do in that area. But our ‘bootleg game,’ for lack of a better term, the stuff where we do get him on the perimeter, from an efficiency standpoint, those plays have been efficient. As an offensive coach, you're going to continue to run plays that are efficient for you."
(On wide receiver Louis Murphy being in the last day of his 21-day PUP window)
"You're right, this is the last day, and Louis Murphy's going to revert back to [reserve] PUP, so that's the status. There will be a press release later today."
(On if running back Mike James can be ready to handle more of the playbook in his second game back)
"Yeah, quite a bit, quite a bit more. Mike's a sharp guy and he did a good job of getting himself ready to go last week. I don't see a reason why he can't be ready to go on everything this week."
(On if Russell Hansbrough is more of a third-down back)
"Again, with the luck we've been having with running backs, the guys that are up have got to be ready to do everything. We don't know how it's going to fall. It's been a crazy year in that respect, so all those three of those guys and whoever does come back or doesn't come back – if they're up, they've got to be able to do it all."
(On the development of rookie running backs)
"Well, if you're a rookie in the NFL, by the halfway point of the season, you'd expect you'd see improvement. And, we have. Our young guys are continuing to get better. You would expect that from all your rookies that are still on your team, and I think we've got some other guys that are making improvements in practice. Unfortunately, you guys don't get to see that but I see it. Some of those guys haven't had their opportunity yet, but that may be coming down the road."
(On what would make him believe the defense could start to jell a little better)
"Well, we have no choice, we have to get better. We have to get better. If we don't, then it's going to be a long eight weeks, and that's not how we're looking at it. We're looking at it as it's halftime and we've got to make adjustments and come out swinging in the second half. It starts with communication. It starts with everybody knowing what to do and how to do it. After that, from a scheme standpoint, we've got to put our best players in position to make plays. And then the players that are playing those positions, our A players have to play like A players and B players have to play like B players. That's every team in the NFL. We're just not where we need to be in those areas right now and we've got eight games to get it right."
(On linebacker Lavonte David's production being down)
"There's no getting around the numbers part, but Lavonte is being asked to do some different things than he was being asked to do the last couple years. When we went back over this little mini-bye and looked at all the players, there were things that we can do better at every position, and linebacker is one of those positions. But quarterback is one of those positions, wideout is one – I'm not going to stand here and share all the stuff that we're telling the players that we need to get better at it. That would be foolish. But we have a list of things at every position and, like I said, we started addressing those things with the guys this morning."
(On if the changes in offseason practice rules have led to more in-season injuries)
"There are a lot of people saying that. Again, I don't know that anybody could prove that. There are plenty of people saying it. I've heard it. It really does me no good to think about that or worry about that. Every team has their issues, and as I've said before, the hardest thing about injuries is when you get hit hard at an individual position. Defensive end, halfback and wide receiver are three that we've been hit pretty hard on. But other teams have the same thing."
(On if he can share what the team will do at defensive end with Howard Jones going to IR)
"I cannot at this time. You get 53 guys up, and based on guys coming out of the Atlanta game, health-wise, there are still some guys that [might make it that didn’t necessarily do anything today]. We'll know more about that come Wednesday."
(On guard Kevin Pamphile and his concussion)
"Kevin's in the protocol. Mike [Evans] is still in the protocol, too. Part of the protocol – and I don't even understand exactly how that works – but part of the protocol, at some point to get passed, to be cleared, you have to come out and practice. Mike Evans is in the protocol and was able to practice today. Kevin is in the protocol and was not able to practice."
LINEBACKER LAVONTE DAVID
(On his role in Defensive Coordinator Mike Smith defense)
“I don’t think it’s taking me out of plays, I think it’s helping me. It’s helping me be a better overall player. Whether it’s coverage or whether it’s a run-fit – so, just putting my game all and all altogether. What you guys see outside is different than what people see inside, so that’s why I really don’t put too much into it.”
(On if the defensive system is more designed to funnel more things toward the middle linebacker)
“I think it’s just all about in this defense everybody has a certain fit. Each guy has a fit that where each guy, somebody has to make a play, a different player make a play on a certain fit, so it all works hand-in-hand. It’s all about just playing together and everybody doing their job.”
(On if the defense has been ‘held back’ by players still learning Smith’s system)
“Not held them back, it’s just a matter of understanding the whole complex of the defense. Understanding where guys are supposed to be and things like that. I think guys are handling it pretty well and obviously, these past two weeks weren’t our best, but it’s going to get better.”
(On how the defense can improve)
“Just every person just has to play better. Have to play better football. You [had] a chance to evaluate that – this weekend, everybody got a chance to go back and look in the mirror and look at themselves and reevaluate themselves and we just have to play better.”
(On how he feels about the defense’s chances to turn it around)
“Very good. Every week, we feel great about going out there with the group of guys that we have. We’ve got some talented football players, some great football players and we’ve just got to be able to put it all out there.”
WIDE RECEIVER JOSH HUFF
(On what he learned from his release from Philadelphia)
“You live and you learn. Obviously, I’m mad that I put myself in that situation, but again, you live and you learn. I’m excited to be here and excited to get going and get used to my new teammates and get used to the players around here and get used to the staff.”
(On how tough it is to learn a new offense in the middle of the season)
“Well obviously, it’s going to be tough with it being the middle of the season, but I’m up for the challenge. I’m a competitor, I’m going to be here in the playbook and try to do everything I can to show these coaches that I’m here for a good reason and I’m here to help my teammates.”
(On his first goal with the team)
“Again, I’m here and I’m thankful for the opportunity, but whatever I can do to show the coaches that I’m here to play and whatever I can do to show my teammates that I come here to make plays, that’s what I’m going to do. But as of right now, I’m excited to be here and I’m looking forward to opportunities.”
(On how he can help the other receivers)
“Obviously, my job isn’t to help them, my job is to help better them I guess, in a way. But that’s in the long run. My main focus right now is to learn the playbook and learn my teammates and learn how things are done around here. I’ve got a great group of guys around me to help teach me the ropes and that’s what I’m looking forward to.”
(On if playing on special teams is adaptable from team-to-team)
“Special teams is special teams. Obviously, it’s another phase to the game where you can change the momentum of a game and if that’s where they want me to be, that’s where I’ll be. Wherever they want me to be, I’m willing to do it. Again, I’m just grateful for the opportunity.”
(On if he considers himself fortunate to join the team)
“Very fortunate and I’m very blessed. But at the same time, I know mistakes happen, lessons are learned and I’m ready to move forward to that and start a new home in Tampa.”
(On if he likes playing on special teams)
“I love special teams. Like I said, it’s a chance to change the momentum of the game and there’s been plays yesterday that were able to change the momentum of the game and I’m just looking forward to picking up where I left off in Philly.”
(On if he has support off the field)
“Yeah, definitely. I have that support on and off the field – whether I was here or whether I was in Philadelphia. I just made a bad decision at that time and I learn from it and move forward.”
(On if there were any anxious times after Philadelphia released him and he was without a team)
“Honestly, I thought about it. But then again, I had to believe in my faith and know that God was going to put me in a place where he wanted me to be at. Obviously, he wanted me to be in Tampa with a great group of guys and I’m just ready to move forward from that situation and start new here.”