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05 September 2016

Transcript: Tampa Bay Buccaneers 2016 Media Availability (9/5/16)

Below is a selection of Tampa Bay Buccaneers quotes from today’s earlier media availability:
Head Coach Dirk Koetter
Defensive Tackle Gerald McCoy
Wide Receiver Russell Shepard
Cornerback Alterraun Verner
(On how the first practice of the regular season went)
“Awesome. It seems like we haven’t practiced in a month. Good to be out there.”
(On why it seemed like they haven’t practiced in a month)
“Just because with the weather and everything we really haven’t practiced since last Wednesday. So it’s just been awhile.”
(On having four undrafted rookies on the 53-man roster)
“I think the main thing on that is it just speaks to - [General Manager] Jason [Licht] saw that we wanted to keep the guys that played the best in training camp. As a coach or as a player, that’s really all you can ask for. We talk to our guys about competing and the guys we felt like did the best over the course of training camp, they stuck.”
(On what he likes about tight end Alan Cross)
“Well he’s a tough guy and he’s a smart guy and he competes and he’s very versatile. So all things that we’re looking for in every player.”
(On what stands out about wide receiver Evan Spencer)
“Evan, again, is another really strong competitor who can play all three wide receiver spots [and] is a good special teams player. It’s no secret we’re a little light on the back end of that wide receiver group. And then we had some injuries, so that was competitive right down to the end. Injuries, of course, did come into play a little bit there. But we’re very pleased with Evan, we got a long look at him last year when he was on the practice squad and he’ll be up, ready to go for Atlanta.”
(On what he likes about defensive linemen DaVonte Lambert and Channing Ward)
“Well just versatility. Both guys can play inside or outside. When they got their chances in the preseason games, they made plays, they flew around. Young, defensive linemen that you get a chance to develop, that can run and hit, those guys are hard to find. You just look around the league and big, strong, tough guys who can move, those guys are not just walking around everywhere.”
(On what he likes about offensive lineman Leonard Wester)
“Well good players come from all kinds of places. Whether a guy comes from Division II or whatever, there’s good players everywhere in this country. Leonard, we think has got a chance to develop into a really solid player at tackle. Again, developmental tackles [are] not easy to find, you’re just not seeing a lot of those guys walking around.”
(On who he would go with at kickoff returner if he had to decide today)
“I don’t have to go with one today. That’s a great question though.”
(On what his confidence level is in the pass rush and defensive line)
“Really strong. I think they proved in preseason that we have good depth on the D-line because we kept a good pass rush. Other than one of the four games, we had consistent pass rush and I think we do have really good depth. And I also think our defensive staff, led by [Defensive Coordinator] Mike [Smith] is doing a really good job of moving those guys around. They’re really playing offense with defensive players. That’s what offenses do, they move guys into different positions to try and get them on matchups and our defense is doing the same thing with the pass rush right now.”
(On how the defense is coming along with their game preparations for Atlanta)
“We really didn’t totally start game preparation for Atlanta, that’ll go full-bore on Wednesday. We did a little bit on both sides of the ball. We did do service teams today, so at the start when you were out there that was our second [offense] working against our first [defense] and we did the same thing, we flipped it over. This is our last day to be able to take a look at a few plays on offense, schemes on defense that we may want to get one last look at before the Atlanta game plan goes in on Wednesday.”
(On his confidence level going into his first season as an NFL Head Coach)
“The thing about that is when you watch all those college games this weekend and you see how many things get screwed up in clock management at the end, you can never really be ready for that clock management stuff that happens. Guys that are really good college coaches – and it will carry over to the NFL as well - when you get pressure involved with the clock and the crowd noise, mistakes are made. That’s probably the thing I’d be most nervous about, is just all the situations that come up at the end of the game when the money’s really on the line. But as far as how we prepare on offense, how we prepare on defense, putting in a game plan, I’m not nervous about that stuff at all. I’m excited about how our team is going to go out there and play, but just the unusual plays that come up. In that game last night [Notre Dame vs. Texas], a blocked extra point returned for a two-point conversion or I saw two games where teams were in four-minute offense trying to run the clock out and they ended up not using all the time and the other team got a chance at winning the game, stuff like that.”
(On if when he is watching other games he is thinking what he would do in those situations)
“Sometimes. I try not to when I’m watching games, but you kind of can’t help it. And then the fact that I’ve got guys calling me on my phone every time something happens to say, ‘Hey, did you see that?’ [I say], ‘Yeah, I saw that.’”
(On if watching other games and thinking how he would handle the situation is good practice for the season)
“Yeah, it is good. But as I said, when you’re lying on your couch, you’re really good at it. When you’ve got a bunch of people screaming at you and the crowd noise, it’s a lot different.”
(On what it will mean for him and Mike Smith going up against their former team, the Falcons)
“Obviously for me and Mike, we’re both two years removed so there’s less and less guys that they’ve kept. There’s some guys that are the same, but I think my emotional time with that is passed. We have to look at this as a football team. This is a divisional game on the road to open the season, so huge game and the league wants it that way. You’ve got these divisional games and everyone knows that they count double, especially on the road. So you’ll have to ask Mike, his was a different situation because he was a head coach and had a great run there, longer than I did and he drafted some of those guys, so it might be different for him. For me, I’m just worried about what our team does.”
(On if Josh Robinson can play safety)
“There’s a chance. We have to cross-train guys, those D-linemen have to play multiple spots, offensive linemen [do as well]. When you just do the math, we kept six corners and four safeties, so usually you’re only going to have three safeties up on game day, so traditionally you do train your fifth or sixth corner to play some safety and Josh is one of those guys.”
(On if Johnthan Banks can play safety)
“Not right now. We’re just going to let Johnthan concentrate on playing corner.”
(On if having more nickel corners and tight ends on the roster points to any personnel tendencies)
“A couple things there, one: you’re playing at least between 60 and 70 percent of your defense is nickel, that’s just the league in general. So in that respect, yes. As far as the tight ends vs. wideouts, some of it is just you want to keep your best football players. We have what we call our ‘ideal target numbers’, but we’re not going to keep a guy and let a good football player go just to be on those numbers. That’s our job as coaches - we were talking about that earlier - to be able to move your guys around and take advantage of what you’ve got.”
(On what makes Mike Smith such a special coach)
“First off, ‘Smitty’ is a great person number one. He’s an exceptional leader, he’s a really fine teacher and motivator. I think when you just listen to the defensive players talk, he’s made it important to them. And those guys, they realize the importance of playing defense here and that we’re not going to settle for being mediocre on defense and those guys take that very serious. So when I had the opportunity to look for a defensive coordinator, Mike Smith was first on my list. I’ve seen it first-hand, I’ve seen what he is as a defensive coordinator, I’ve seen what he is as a head coach, I’ve seen what he is as a man, as a teacher and as a motivator and he’s top notch in all those areas.”
(On what was one thing that jumped out to him about Mike Smith when they worked together in Jacksonville)
“Just how prepared he was and how prepared he had his guys. We were both in the press box that year, 2007. Coaches and players are always trying to predict what the other team’s going to do and usually I’m pretty good at tuning that out because they’re usually wrong. But Mike Smith, he was right a lot. He seemed to magically have the right call for the right play at the right time and I’ve just never really seen anything like that.”
(On who the captains for the season are)
“On defense, it’s [defensive tackle] Gerald McCoy and [linebacker] Lavonte David. On offense, [quarterback] Jameis Winston and [wide receiver] Vincent Jackson. And on special teams, it’s Russell Shepard. Those will be our five captains for the season, they’ll have the ‘C’ on their chest. And then we’re going to have a weekly captain, just based off what game it is and for this week it’ll be [center] Joe Hawley.”
(On what kind of challenges Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan and wide receiver Julio Jones present)
“Well I think they really have a big three right now, in Matt and Julio and then the tailback [Devonta Freeman]. They have three really, really fine football players – ‘game wreckers’ as we like to call them - on offense. What they do in their running game fits him a lot and then Julio’s a threat to score from anywhere on the field at anytime and obviously I’m very fond of Matt Ryan as a quarterback. So those three guys will be the guys we need to stop.”
(On being named a team captain)
“It’s always an honor to be recognized by your peers. There’s really nothing bigger than that, than to be recognized by your peers, standing out as a leader. Not everybody is called to be that, but when you are, I think it’s right that you step up and be that. My teammates [are] recognizing me as that so now it’s just my job to make sure I don’t disappoint.”
(On being proud of the defensive line for leading the league in sacks during the preseason)
“You said it right there, it’s only preseason, it [doesn’t] count until Sunday. Yes, it’s a positive and we can build off that. We’ve shown that we can get there, but you guys have been doing this longer than I have, you know everything changes when it counts. Game plans, matchups, tempo all that stuff changes, so it’s a positive we can build off of, but it [doesn’t] matter until Sunday.”
(On if the game against Atlanta counts double because it is a division game)
“It does count double. First game of the season, get a big win on the road and then it’s a division game on the road, that’s a hard way to start the year. But we have all the tools in place to do it, there’s a sense of urgency about it. We’ve got two former Falcons on our coaching staff, so they’re not saying it but we can sense it.”
(On if they want to get a win for Head Coach Dirk Koetter and Defensive Coordinator Mike Smith, two former Atlanta coaches)
“Definitely. Coach Smith, sure, on the defensive end. And Coach Koetter being the Head Coach, obviously you want to win for your head coach. But I’m on the defensive side of the ball. Coach Smith isn’t going to admit it, but he’s got a little fire in his eyes.”
(On being named a team captain)
“That’s one of the biggest honors [that] you can get in this league. It’s truly your peers, it’s the guys that you come here, you work with every day, the guys you admire, the guys that look up to you, so it’s truly an honor.”
(On the intensity and excitement around the team now that it is Week One of the regular season)
“It’s Week One. You’ve got a division game, we’re playing against a great opponent. An opponent which we believe we had a signature win against last year, we’ve done some good things. That’s a great coaching staff over there in Atlanta, a lot of similar faces on both sides of the teams. So it’s going to a game that has a little personal [feel] for a lot of people in it and those types of games are usually pretty good.”
(On the feeling of lining up for the first opening kickoff of the season)
“It’s kind of like everything goes through your mind. Everything that you’ve been through at that point, everything that’s going to come front at that point. The opening kickoff, whether you’re on kickoff return or kickoff, it’s kind of like, you’re the first play of the season so it’s kind of a special play. I look forward to being on that play regardless, I’m a special teams guy and you’re on the field first, kind of like the Marines.”
(On how important it is to start the season off fast)
“It’s very, very important. Week One we’ve got a division opponent and then playing one of the best offenses in the league, so it’s very important, especially from a defensive standpoint. But for the whole team, just to get a good rhythm, good start early, it’s going to be very important.”
(On if he still gets butterflies on opening day)
“Yeah, you definitely get that sensation. It’s a blessing ever year that you’re able to be on a team, on the 53-man roster, no matter who you are. You can be Peyton Manning [or] a person that barely made it rookie year, it’s a blessing. So you definitely get those butterflies, I know with the National Anthem and everything, the jets go by - that’s going to be an exciting time because that means the meaningful football is really starting. Yeah, I’m going to have those butterflies definitely again.”
(On what kind of challenges Atlanta wide receiver Julio Jones presents)
“He’s a big problem. Somebody that you definitely love to have on your team, somebody that you hate guarding against. But that type of challenge I think is what we all fuel off of because we know that he’s going to get the ball, so whoever is going to be guarding him is going to have an opportunity to make a play on the ball. So it’s very exciting, especially Week One, to go against somebody that caliber. And then [quarterback] Matt Ryan throwing the ball, but even the other receivers – [Mohamed Sanu and company] - they are very, very talented too. It’s going to be a challenge and we’ve got to come with our ‘A’ game because last year and the past couple of years he’s kind of had some big numbers against us, but I think we’re up for the challenge.”

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