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07 December 2016

Transcript: Tampa Bay Buccaneers 2016 Media Availability (12/7/16)

BUC BIT OF THE DAY: This season, TE Cameron Brate has six touchdown receptions, tied for the most among NFL tight ends and the third-most by a Buccaneers tight end in a single season in team history.
Below is a selection of Tampa Bay Buccaneers quotes from today’s earlier media availability:
Head Coach Dirk Koetter
Offensive Coordinator/Wide Receivers Coach Todd Monken
Quarterback Jameis Winston
Wide Receiver Mike Evans
Cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III
Wide Receiver Josh Huff
(On if he surprised with the amount of success quarterback Jameis Winston has had against the blitz)
“I’m not really sure because I don’t really look at it like that. I know there’s been some reports out there about – they break it down every different way. That’s not really how we look at it, we just look at it as, are we moving the football? Are we converting on third down? Are we scoring points? So, blitz, no blitz, I’m not really surprised one way or another because I think Jameis is just a good football player and I don’t really read those kind of reports, so I don’t know how to answer that, really.”
(On what they need to correct to get the running game going again)
“To be honest with you, I really don’t want to tell you. That’s just a straight answer. Again, it wouldn’t be helping me, it wouldn’t be helping our team any for me to tell you that. I will say, we need to run the football better. I’m not trying to be a jerk about it, it’s just for me to tell the whole world our problems would not be doing us any good. We need to run it better. You’ve got to run the ball better at the end of the year and that’s going to be a point of emphasis for us this week. Me saying it and us doing it are two different things.”
(On if has figured out what the problem in the run game is)
“[Laughs] If I would’ve figured it out, we’d already be doing it. So, we’re working on it. Anything that we’re doing wrong, we’re working on it. We know what our deficiencies are and I’m sure our opponents do too and we’re trying to be the most complete football team we can be. But last year was last year, this is this year and we’re not the same team that we were last year. We’re a different team right now and in some way that’s good, in some ways that’s bad and we’re striving to get it exactly how we want to get it, but in the meantime that’s why we still practice out there.”
(On how running back Jacquizz Rodgers looked against San Diego, his first game back from injury)
“Did a good job, did a really nice job. Jacquizz is a good football player. We’ve said a few times now, that we went from very, very thin at halfback to we’re much deeper right now.”
(On what wide receiver Josh Huff has shown him since he joined the team four weeks ago and what he brings to the team)
“Well, when I coached at the Senior Bowl with [Defensive Coordinator] Mike Smith in Atlanta, that’s the year Josh came out, so we coached in the Senior Bowl, he was on our team. Got to be with him for a week, see how he learns, see how he practices. After that, I didn’t really watch him too much after he got picked by Philly, I really kind of lost track of him. And then when we picked him up, he’s out there practicing and like any other guy on our practice squad, as soon as he’s on our team, we’re watching him close. Every day we’re trying to teach him our system and see how he fits in. Josh, he was close to getting an opportunity a couple weeks back and he got injured and now he’s ready to help us and chances are, he’s going to be out there helping us.”
(On offensive linemen Donovan Smith and Ali Marpet’s evolution and if they are top-level, Pro Bowl caliber linemen)
“I’m really not qualified to say about the top-level caliber and Pro Bowl voting because I know zero about it, I don’t know one thing about Pro Bowl voting, as far as following it or where it is or anything like that. I’ll say we’re happy with both those guys, we’re glad they’re on our team. I don’t get a chance to study every guard and tackle in the league. I think as a coach, you’re always hardest on the players that you coach. Your guys, you beat your guys up the most, you’re trying to get the most out of them and we’re constantly trying to develop both those guys – all of our players, but those two [as well]. But there might be five guys out there having great years that I haven’t seen one snap of, [with] teams we don’t come across. We’re happy with those two guys, but I’m not putting it in Pro Bowl perspective, I really am not qualified.”
(On how much more aware he is of New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees and the New Orleans offense, having coached in the NFC South for the past four years)
“Well New Orleans is one I do pay attention to because they’re fun to watch because they’re really good at what they do and Brees is as good as anybody in this league. He’s been doing it for a long time, guy’s going to be in the Hall of Fame and because we have been in the division, I have watched him for a long time. We have some similar concepts that we both run and I think that a lot of their system, I think they do a really nice job with their system, Coach [Sean] Payton. So, yeah I’ve watched them close and these guys are very talented on offense.”
(On how much the New Orleans running game has helped Brees this year)
“I think it’s helped him. I think, just like I say all the time, that our running game helps us when we’re rolling. [Mark] Ingram’s having his best year, in my opinion, in the NFL. He’s really playing like the guy they expected when they got him and breaking tackles and running with speed and power. A good running game is a quarterback’s best friend because it makes the defense respect it. Then when you go to your play-action you have bigger windows if it’s zone. And Brees, his accuracy is off the charts.”
(On if he will not use all of his playbook this week against New Orleans, knowing they play the Saints again in just two weeks)
“Absolutely not, absolutely not. I’ve never been like that, I don’t believe in that. Shoot, who knows where we’re going to be in two weeks. Our most important game is right now.”
(On how he keeps the team even-keel during the last four weeks of the season)
“I’m not 100 percent sure. I’m feeling my way through, I try to give them a gauge of giving them what they need and sometimes I’m going by feel of what I think we need. I try to get a gauge when I hear the players talking and when I hear the coaches talking, when I’m in the meetings with the players and definitely what I see in practice. I try to tell it to them straight. They know where they are, they know how important this game is, it’s important for both teams. This is a big game for both teams because of the way the scheduling falls, where New Orleans plays us twice and Atlanta once in the last three weeks. We have three division games in the last four weeks, so that makes this game – the way our division is so tight right now, these division games are huge. Us and Atlanta sitting there at 7-5, New Orleans at 5-7, just do the math for New Orleans and we’re not too far ahead. So, it’s going to be huge and that how you gauge the team and how you feel even-keeled, that’s a hard thing to figure exactly, put your finger on. I also count on the leadership of our players to help out with that.”
(On what it has been like to see the growing fan support over the last couple of weeks)
“It’s been fantastic, that’s what it’s been. That’s how it should be and that’s how we should keep it. We’ve got to do our part and the fans are definitely doing theirs. Appreciate it, appreciate it very much. Let’s do it this week, too.”
(On two-point conversions and the one they were able to covert last week against San Diego)
“Yeah, we got it. That was a nice play. But two-point, man that whole two-point chart, the percentages, if you did over the course of a year, you’d be ahead. But just ask those teams that get in that thing in a game where they have to do it four or five times and you make one or two, nobody’s going to do it over the course of a year, so you’re not going to have a chance to get in that 50% range. It matters how you do that week and then different teams have different defensive philosophies. Some teams are going to come all out and blitz you, some teams are going to play zone, sometimes you don’t know what a team is because there’s not many to go on, on tape. So, the two-point thing, it’s an interesting little strategy sidelight of the whole NFL. It doesn’t come up in every game and when it does, it can definitely throw the game into disarray.”
(On where left tackle Donovan Smith has improved the most over the last two years and what his ceiling is)
“Well, when you ask about Donovan and Ali, it’s like Jameis – those guys have played 28 games in their career. Ali, less than that, but Donovan and Jameis every snap over the first year and 12 games. Left tackle’s like quarterback – experience. Just experience, different looks, going against different guys. Donovan’s going against an elite pass rusher pretty much every week and these guys all have different moves. He’s learning from them, he’s learning how to shut different guys down. Really the sky’s the limit for Donovan. He’s a huge, powerful, athletic, talented, smart guy and he’s got a very bright future. He’s got to just continue working at it. As important as he makes it, he’s going to continue to improve.”
(On if he has any interest in the University of South Florida Head Coaching position)
“[Laughs] Is that going to be an ongoing theme here, just every week when every job opens up? No, I have a great job here. I’m fired up.”
(On what his perception is of the South Florida Head Coach job)
“I don’t have any idea, I’m trying to figure out the Saints.”
(On wide receiver Josh Huff’s progress since he joined the team four weeks ago)
“Well we’re going to find out, aren’t we? It looked like a few weeks ago we might be able to get him up and he had a little bit of a setback. But we’re excited and we’re going to find out this week what recall he’s had. When you’re on the practice squad, most of the reps you’re getting is for your opposing offense against your defense, so we’re going to find out what kind of recall he’s had. We’ve got to do a great job this week of getting him up to speed.”
(On where Huff’s speed ranks compared to the other receivers on the team)
“He’s got some juice. I don’t know yet, I don’t know what – I don’t think we’ve seen yet, but we’ll find out this week.”
(On if Huff picked up the offense quickly)
“I think so. But again, there’s a difference between a play every now and then and an expanded role. We found that out last week with some of the other players. They’re all capable, it’s just a matter of – it’s one thing to know an assignment, it’s another split, detail and then going against the best in the world and giving yourself a chance to be successful.”
(On how wide receivers Freddie Martino and Russell Shepard have done filling in for injured players)
“They’ve done fine. I’ve said it all along, those guys have talent, or they wouldn’t be on an NFL roster. Now it’s a matter of their confidence, keep working at their skillset, keep developing it and then getting an opportunity. And Mike [Evans] garners a lot of attention, so those guys are going to get one-on-one matchups a lot more than they would normally. Mike’s got to handle the frustration of that and those guys have got to be able to step up when they get their one-on-one opportunities.”
(On what the offense can do to open up the running game)
“Well, we’ve got to be better. We’ve got to be balanced, we’ve tried to be balanced to run the football. Take our shots down the field, not turn it over. We are getting and we have been getting healthier at running back, which is a good sign and we’ve just got to do it better. We’ve got to do a better job in the perimeter blocking, have got to do a better job up front, better job seeing the holes.”
(On how running back Jacquizz Rodgers looked against San Diego, his first game back from injury)
“It’s good to get him back and I would assume he’ll only be better this week in a little bit of more of an expanded role.”
(On Martino and Shepard having to suddenly take a bigger role against San Diego with the injuries to Adam Humphries and Cecil Shorts III)
“Well, both of those guys have had some sort of role in every game plan. They’ve just got expanded. Each of them probably doubled or tripled what they normally would get. But again, the credit goes to those guys being prepared. Were we perfect? No, but did they play hard? Yes. When they were afforded an opportunity to make a catch, did they? So, that’s what you expect from guys and that’s what our guys in the building expect. The expectation of the positon is for those guys to go out and play well. Every team deals with injuries, sometimes at a position more than others and really, no one cares. You’ve just got to figure it out and find a way to win games and move the football and score points.”
(On if the running game’s struggles are due to several players still working their way back from injury)
“Oh I don’t know, some of that could be true. We’re going against some really good people. I think the better you run it, the harder it becomes to run it. We just haven’t gotten those explosive runs that leads to the number you’re talking about. I don’t think it’s been much different – and I said that earlier in the year – than last year, it’s just, where’s that 30, 40-yard run that Doug [Martin] breaks off, or ‘Quizz’ gets, or ‘Chuck’ [Charles Sims] gets and all of a sudden, boy you look up and it’s 150 yards instead of 110 or 120.”
(On if he thinks the running backs are still getting respect from defenses, as far as in play-action)
“I think so. I think the game is, always being able to stay ahead of the chains [and] putting people in run, pass conflicts. That’s where you get your explosive plays. Unless you can get space players in space. Space players in space and then run/pass conflicts thrown over the head, that’s what you’re really trying to do in intermediate or over the top. So, our ability to run the football obviously affects what a defense does, how many people they try to get in the box, how do they play Mike? It all fits together. If they’re going to play to Mike, how to our other guys take advantage of it, how do we run the ball better? And I think we are doing that, we’ve just got to finish drives with touchdowns.”
(On what he thinks running back Charles Sims III can give them this week against New Orleans)
“Well again, we’ll find out today at practice. It’s been awhile since we’ve had him out there, but Chuck’s a terrific football player and we’re excited to get him back.”
(On what it says about quarterback Jameis Winston, that he is still able to move the ball on offense despite several injuries)
“I said it eight weeks ago or whatever it was, about that guy. The competitive spirit, his will to want to get better, bringing people with him. I think his – just the way he is brings people with him. And as he develops and our young players keep developing around him, which we have done a better job with that it’s –. We’ve avoided the turnovers, we’ve avoided dropped passes. That was a big thing last year. Yes, some errant throws, but also some dropped passes lead to that. Fumbles – those are the things that lead to an offense being choppy and we haven’t done that. In the games we’ve had success, we haven’t fumbled. We’ve caught the football, we’ve been on the right people, you’ve played good football, that gives you a chance to be successful. And we’ve been successful in most of those games, shrinking the game. Not by purpose, we’re not trying to shrink the game, but time of possession and maximizing our possessions and keeping our defense off the field.”
(On tight end Luke Stocker’s injuries affecting the running game)
“Well, Luke’s a good football player. He certainly is a big part of our offense and his physicalness. So, losing any piece, it takes its toll, but Brandon Myers stepped up, was a little banged up last week, stepped up, played well. Out other tight ends I think are continuing to develop, so again, we’ve just got to do it maybe a little bit different, but still find a way to be able to run it.”
(On the impact of losing Cecil Shorts III for the season)
“Well, we lost him earlier and got him back and he’s the consummate pro – smart. We had him playing all three positions – not that he played that in the game – but, first of all, we’re going to miss Cecil just because of who he is, as a person, as a man in our room. He’s the right kind of guy. You saw that when he went down. If he’s the wrong kind of guy, our team’s not out there all around him. That’s what our team is, that’s what I like about our team, first and foremost. But we’ll miss him and our guys are praying for him and we’re thinking about him and I know he’s going to have surgery coming up. But again, that’s part of this league, our other guys are excited about their opportunity and we’ll go from there.”
(On how much of Evans’ frustrations he sees of being the focus of opposing defenses)
“There was more of it probably Sunday than there had been. I think Mike, as I’ve said before, is a prideful guy, competitive guy, wants to be really good, takes coaching extremely well. And then the buildup of – you get all the write-ups and there becomes this mounting pressure that I’m supposed to catch eight-to-10 balls a week and score a couple of touchdowns and I’m the first guy to this and this and that and all of a sudden it doesn’t happen and well, that’s respect. Where people know where you’re at, by your size, by your ball skills, by your developing route running. So, I think that’s a big part of it. He has to understand that we’ve got to do a good job of putting him in positions, which [Head] Coach [Dirk Koetter] does a great job of that, so we’re going to continue to do that. But, don’t waste your energy out of frustration, you’re going to get grabbed, you’re going to get held, they’re going to play physical because you like to pull and grab yourself. So, it’s going to be one of those things and you’re going to garner their best defender and they’re going to cloud you at time and let’s go, let’s get after it. That will complement our offense and then when you get your opportunities, take advantage of it.”
(On how the offense can adjust to defenses that commit to stopping the run, like San Diego did last week)
“God, it’s hard. It’s a great question. It’s one of those double edged swords – all of a sudden we start throwing it a bunch and now you’re not balanced and you’re putting yourself at risk, which we talked about earlier in the year. ‘Well, why are you throwing it so much and why aren’t we running it?’ Well, now we’re running it – you don’t know when one’s going to break. You’re not designing it for one or two-yard runs, you’re designing it for, ‘Hey, we think if we do this and we get here,’ and sometimes it’s them, sometimes it’s us, sometimes it’s a misread, it’s all the above. So, we still have to stay balanced, it helps ourselves on our play-action, with our protection. We don’t let the guys pin their ears back. But you’re right, it is hard to play behind the chains. But, we’ve done a good job with it – Jameis’ mobility helps us in that, I think everybody’s seen that. When I talk about our number one play in the offense is scramble, why? Because it creates some plays that only a few players in the league can when things break down. And there was a number of those early in the game that we got because of his mobility and his toughness.”
(On if he surprised by the amount of success Winston has had when facing pressure in blitz situations, given he is only a second-year player)
“No. Just because who he is. Just his mental toughness and how hard he works at it and as I said earlier, he’s got the rare ability to escape. He’s strong enough to escape and run or throw, he has that quality, as opposed to just, ‘I’m going to take off and run,’ or, ‘I’m just going to stand back there and try and throw,’ and he’s accurate on the run. We had a play down in the red zone, the low red, where he missed Mike. I think everybody was stunned. It was such a rarity that we was on the run that [people were thinking], ‘How’d that happen? What’s wrong with you?’ Because almost every time, it feels like he’s scrambling and he throws a completion or a touchdown, it’s just the way it is. But I’ll take our quarterback.”
(On what Winston does so well when he is under pressure)
“He’s tough – mentally tough and physically tough. Hell, we handed the ball off one time on third-and-20, he was down there trying to block the safety [laughter]. Now, that isn’t very smart, but that just tells you who he is. It’s not smart, but his competitive spirit and his will to compete. So, no play is ever dead. You guys have seen it, I’ve seen it just one year and he’s going to continue to get better in the pocket and the other things that he’s developing. But, some of those things that he does is out of toughness, out of will. He doesn’t panic in the pocket, you rarely see him go down without being hit. So, that’s a good sign, he’s calm in there, his feet have calmed down if you’ve watched him, he confident in there. A lot of that has to do with the protection, but when you have that component with also his ability to escape and get off guys with arms, it’s a real positive for your offense.”
(On if he was able to pick up what Winston’s dialogue with his teammates was like on the sidelines against San Diego)
“No. Some of that happens and some of that is overrated, in terms of how much the talk is. I think Jameis has a lot of confidence in every man in our building. And part of that is because our guys are willing to work at it. So that confidence gets developed every day after practice, every day that gets developed. If guys aren’t out there, if guys aren’t working with your quarterback, they don’t have that kind of confidence. So, I don’t think any of that has happened. A lot of those guys that were in the game had run routes with Jameis before and had a pretty good rapport because they’ve put in the time and Jameis is out there leading that. So, that part of it is – the hardest part is, ‘Okay, the roles have changed.’ Hey, are we sure that we understand what’s expected of you in this position? Russell had to move to the ‘F’ and Freddie had to do a lot more. And they did a great job with it. But there’s not a lack of confidence from Jameis and he hasn’t had it, he spreads the ball around as good as I’ve been around.”
(On what he sees from cornerback Javien Elliot in practice that allows him to step right into a game and contribute, like he did against San Diego)
“It’s a difference, when someone is waiting for the opportunity [versus] someone who is preparing for the opportunity. I believe that Javien does a good job preparing for his opportunity because he has a chance to play against [wide receiver] Mike Evans, [tight end] Cameron Brate, [wide receiver] Adam Humphries, guys like that every single day and he takes advantage of it. That’s why the coaches were comfortable enough to put him in the game.”
(On what he has seen from wide receiver Josh Huff in practice)
“Josh Huff man, he’s blazing [fast]. [He] has a lot of abilities that would definitely add to our repertoire. We really are excited to have him up on the 53-man active roster] and to see what he’s going to do on game day.”
(On how his chemistry with Huff is coming along)
“It’s getting better and better. Obviously, we still have a long way to go. We’ve got to get that connection, we’ve got to continue to work more and more, but we’re looking forward to taking that challenge this week.”
(On the challenges of playing a team twice in two weeks, like the team will do with New Orleans)
“Just trying to go 1-0 against them both times. We know what they’re going to give us, they know what we’re going to give them. Just going out there and competing.”
(On what has stood out to him about the team’s current four-game winning streak)
“Everyone’s playing well and that’s the best thing. When you have everybody on the same page, going for the same goal, that’s how you have success. So, the main thing is that we focus on that and we continue to strive for our best every single day and keep it going.”
(On if he believes winning is a habit)
“Winning is always a habit.”
(On the biggest different in the offensive line from the beginning of the season to now)
“I think the offensive line’s been doing good this whole season, but I think that me, [Quarterbacks] Coach [Mike] Bajakian and the people in the quarterback room, we took an initiative to get better at pocket presence. Help the offensive linemen out a little bit more because rush lanes are coming, it’s like flying bullets out there, so I have to protect those guys just like those guys have to protect me out there. So, by me getting better with my pocket presence has showed that we can protect the quarterback way better than what we were in the past. But, I believe it was my fault for moving too much because that’s what it is. That’s why I’ve got to learn how to feel the pocket and not move too much.”
(On New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees and what he takes from him)
“He is the most precise quarterback I have seen play the game. He rarely ever misses. He’s just a great man, definitely a first-ballot Hall of Famer when his time is up. So, I’m looking forward to watching him play again this year against us. He’s just one of the quarterbacks I’ve always looked up to growing up.”
(On what it says about the team that every player came out to Cecil Shorts – a player that wasn’t even on the team at the beginning of the season – when he got injured against San Diego)
“It says a lot, you know because Cecil is family. Everyone that comes in this building is family. We’re not going to look the other way just because a guy just joined us. That’s the thing that we want, we want everybody to come in and feel like they’re welcome because you are and that’s how we’re going to win games.”
(On what he was saying to his teammates on the sidelines in San Diego when Shorts and wide receiver Adam Humphries went down with injuries)
“Just keep fighting and keep battling. We can’t control that stuff, but let’s go out here and get a win.”
(On University of South Florida Head Coach Willie Taggart leaving to take the same position at the University of Oregon and rumors of Florida State University Wide Receivers Coach/Co-Offensive Coordinator Lawrence Dawsey being a candidate to replace Taggart at USF)
“Well, if Coach Dawsey came to Tampa, I believe that would be a great thing for them just because of his passion for this game and working with him at Florida State, seeing how involved he was, not with only his position group – the receivers – but with the whole offense. I think that would be a good thing for him and he’s played here with the Bucs and his family’s down here, so I know he would love the opportunity. But Coach Taggert, man I’m just so happy to see his journey as a head coach, continue to grow. Him being a St. Pete native, I know his family’s happy for him going out there to Oregon. We’re definitely going to miss him here with the Bulls, but I just think he has some great things he does on the offensive side of the ball and good luck to him in the near future.”
(On if there is anyone on offense that he wants fans to vote into the Pro Bowl)
“I can just say my whole offensive line because they deserve to be in the Pro Bowl the way they’ve been protecting. But if Cam Brate and Mike Evans [aren’t] on your Pro Bowl ballots, you’ve got something wrong. Because I think – is Cam still leading the NFL in touchdowns for tight ends? Yeah, Cam Brate has to be on your Pro Bowl ballot. I think that would be good for him, I think that would be big for him, he’d really enjoy that.”
(On what stands out about the New Orleans defense)
“The biggest thing is they throw so many looks at you. They throw so many looks from different personnel groups, like dime and nickel, different looks with disguising two-high coverages to roll single-high. But the main thing again is for us to play Buccaneer football. If they’re going to do what they do, we have to do what we do and execute and protect the football.”
(On if he is surprised by the way cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III has evolved as a rookie)
“Absolutely not. I’m a big Vernon Hargreaves fan, no matter if he went to Florida. But I’m proud of all of our young guys and how they’re making that transition into the league and they’re doing very well. And I’m real excited for his future here. I know he’s a lockdown corner and when he gets really comfortable, he’s going to be amazing out there on that field.”
(On how the fans have been treating him during the four-game winning streak)
“They’re treating me well. After that game ball they got, I figured they’d start treating me good, but it just feels good for a fan to be proud of their team. As a fan, that’s one thing you always want. You always want to have that bragging right for your team and I believe this team has given them that, so I know they’re eating that up and hopefully we can continue to do that for them.”
(On if he’s seeing more double-teams and if that opens up opportunities for other receivers)
“I see it all the time. I’ve seen doubles more this year than last year, and I saw a lot of doubles last year, especially towards the end of the season. That’s a sign of respect in my eyes. We’ll take that any day of the week if our guys are getting one-on-one matchups.”
(On how the team has handled success over the last several weeks)
“We’re just having fun playing football, that’s all we’re doing. We’re taking our coaching and just having fun playing football – and that’s all we can do.”
(On how he is different this year from last year)
“I’m different in a lot of ways. I’m married now, more mature. I’ve got two daughters. I think [the marriage] has made me more mature. The way the game was Sunday, I think last year I probably would have lost it more, not getting calls and things like that, but I’m chilling. Just trying to do what I can to help my team win. And I’m just a better route runner – that’s the main thing as far as on the field, I’m a better route runner. Coach Monken has been working with me before, during, and after practice getting extra routes in, extra catches and things like that. I’m taking coaching well and I like the way he pushes me.”
(On how much more comfortable he is this year)
“I’m always comfortable, but as far as knowing defenses and things like that, I’m more comfortable. That’s what comes with playing this game longer. Hopefully, I’ll get smarter and smarter throughout my career and just watch a lot of film and study defenses.”
(On adjusting to the league)
"To start, obviously, I was a little shaky, a little nervous, didn't really know what to expect starting off the first few games in the NFL. But as the games progressed, as we played more games, I got more comfortable. That's all it is, just me getting comfortable and getting back to myself."
(On how important film study is to diagnosing plays)
"That's always been important. That's one of those things I've always known and I've always been big on that. But like I said, I'm just getting more comfortable. That's all it comes down to – just getting more comfortable, realizing I can really play with these guys and going out there and just having fun like I know how."
(On if things changed for him after the "mini-bye" that followed the Week Nine Thursday game)
"Definitely. That Oakland game and that Atlanta game, that was the 'Welcome to the NFL' game. Both of those games, I had a rough one. But my confidence doesn't falter. I got comfortable, I learned from it. The guys had my back, they told me not to worry about it. Brent [Grimes], long-time vet, told me, 'Let it go. Let it go or it's going to kill you.' After that, I just started to have fun with it. That's what I do, that's when I play my best and it's working out for me."
(On if he's seeing and communicating things better)
"Of course, both of those things, seeing and communicating. It just comes with the game, it comes with messing up plays and having to go back and see the coach and look at him. Just getting more comfortable, that's all it comes down to. I'm comfortable where I'm at now, I know the defense, I know my guys who I'm playing with. Now we've got to finish the season."
(On starting the season in a dual outside-nickel role)
"It was tough. It was tough to play both. It was harder than I thought it was going to be. But, you know, I'm kind of glad that they threw me in the fire like that because now I know. I basically know the whole defense now. I can really play anywhere and that's exciting for me. I know what everybody's doing around me. Like I said, like I keep referring to, I'm comfortable. I'm comfortable, and that's the best way to be. Hopefully we can keep this thing and get to the playoffs."
(On how important the play of the secondary has been during the winning streak)
"We've been huge. Great improvement from the beginning of the year. Like I said, we're all finally starting to understand it, really understand what the defense is and where we're supposed to be. We're making plays on the ball, and hopefully we can keep that going as well."
(On if anything in particular has changed with the defense)
"Nothing's changed within the defense; I think we're understanding the defense. I think a lot of people forget that it's a new system for everybody. We had to come in and learn all that, and like I said we're getting comfortable and we're learning it and it's showing."
(On wanting to get back out on the field on defense)
"We want to be on the field. That's where you get paid, that's where the money's at. That's where you get to make your plays, that's where everybody's looking at you. We want to be on the field. So turn the ball over, it's alright. We'll step up, we'll go on the field and we'll show what we've got."
(On if he is excited at the possibility of playing in a game on Sunday)
“Definitely. I haven’t been out there with my teammates in a month, so I’m excited to get back out and get things going again.”
(On having a good game against New Orleans last season and if that helps his confidence in preparing for this weekend’s game)
“Any time you go out, you want to have confidence, whether you’re playing the Saints or any other team in the league. This league is all about confidence and if you have confidence, you’re able to do a lot of things that you know you’re capable of doing. My big thing is confidence and knowing that I can do the things that they’re asking me to do and going out and executing at a high level.”
(On his connection with quarterback Jameis Winston)
“Since I’ve been here, I’ve been working, in and out, every day with him, trying to get the chemistry going. I think we’ve done a great job so far. We’ll see come Sunday, all of the hard work we’ve put in since I’ve been here.”
(On helping the team keep the winning streak going)
“My main thing is to keep the main theme and that’s just to stay focused and fit in with these guys, do what I can when my number is called and just try to play smart football and have fun with these guys with what they’ve been doing these last four games. Again, my job is to fit in and do what I can.”

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