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08 August 2016

Transcript: Tampa Bay Buccaneers 2016 Training Camp Media Availability (8/8/16)

Below is a selection of Tampa Bay Buccaneers quotes from today’s earlier media availability:
Head Coach Dirk Koetter
Defensive End Robert Ayers Jr.
Tight End Cameron Brate
Tackle Donovan Smith
(On practicing at Tropicana Field today due to weather)
“They did fine - they did a good job on that. It’s a change in environment, adjust and improvise that’s all we can do, not many options on a day like today. We did fine. We’ll see what the tape looks like here in a little bit. We got our work in, that’s all we could do.”
(On if today’s practice change affected the game preparation plan for Eagles later this week)
“No, we’re still in install. We’re going to install today we did and then tomorrow again. The only thing we’ll really do for Philadelphia is we’ll do a little bit on Wednesday morning in our practice before we leave, so the players will get their ready list. We’ll work on a few things Wednesday morning and then they’ll have the whole day of the trip, Wednesday night, all day Thursday to kind of study the game plan.”
(On working on deep passing today in practice)
“Yeah, there was that one big over the top. I’m not sure - Brent Grimes was right there - I couldn’t tell from where I was standing if Brent pulled off. We had one of those days where we had to be careful with each other - we couldn’t have collisions over there, so we talked to the guys about being real careful. It was good coverage. I didn’t have a great angle of that play – we weren’t working on deep balls per say we worked on a lot of red zone stuff today, and having it coned off like it was it was really tough to tell what yard line you were on and we had those markers without lines on the field. But low red zone was a big emphasis today and then some special teams stuff.”
(On running back Charles Sims getting his ankle taped up during practice)
“Yeah, I don’t think there’s anything there. It’s a hard surface, harder than we’ve been on, and so a couple guys landed hard. They’ll be fine.”
(On facing adversity in a new environment during training camp)
“Sure. I think it’s always good to break up the monotony and have changes. I think that is good in and of itself to have changes. We’re fortunate that we had a roof over our heads; I mean the way the weather was today we wouldn’t of got anything done - lightning or no lightning. There’s just no way you could go outside. We’ve just got to make the best of it, that’s all you could do.”
(On an update about a covered practice facility)
“Yeah, I think something is happening, but I’m not sure. I’m not the right guy to talk to on that.”
(On expecting to practice at Tropicana Field again tomorrow morning)
“I’d say there’s a good chance. I’d say there’s a decent chance. If the weathermen are right, I’d say there’s a decent chance we’ll be going back there tomorrow. But we’ll play it by ear; these fields drain fast, but I would say chances are we are going back.”
(On if this is a good opportunity for kicker Roberto Aguayo to kick in a dome prior to opening day)
“I guess so. I’m sure he’s kicked in domes before. I’ve watched him kicked booms in kickoffs out of the end zone at the combine up in Indianapolis and the roof was closed. We didn’t really do any kicking with Roberto today. The punters hit a few, and I think if we go back tomorrow the punters and kickers are going to maybe go over early and kick a few.”
(On tackle Kevin Pamphile not being in practice again today)
“Nope, Kevin is excused for personal reasons. I would expect he will be back this afternoon.”
(On center Evan Smith’s ability to change positions)
“Evan’s position versatility now is when it comes into play. We’re a little short on the O-line right now with Kevin gone, and J.R. [Sweezy] out, and Caleb Benenoch down. So our depth in the O-line is definitely being tested. That’s when your position flexibility comes in. Evan has looked good at left guard the last couple days.”
(On expecting Smith to play left guard on Thursday against the Eagles)
“I wouldn’t go that far yet. We’ll see; we still got a couple days.”
(On how this week of practice differs compared to the previous two weeks)
“Well, we’ve got game on Thursday and we’re traveling up to Philly on Wednesday. We did have pads scheduled for today and tomorrow, but I just didn’t think with going over to the Trop and the way it was going to be set up with the fields, and the adjustment with the turf, and not having the lines, all that kind of stuff, I just thought it would be better if we went in shells. That automatically makes those guys back off a little bit. I wanted to keep those guys off the ground so we weren’t hitting that turf, but we got all of our reps. It’s a different week because we will just have shorts and helmets on Wednesday and then we’re playing a game on Thursday. Last week those four straight padded practices are probably the toughest stretch of training camp. That Jacksonville week, that’s going to be a good week too. Both Jacksonville and Cleveland those are going to be good weeks from a competition standpoint.”
(On if practices taper off because of upcoming preseason games)
“A little bit, because again, remember the thing with preseason is the day before is always going to be a little bit easier. You’re not playing one o’clock, you’re not playing til seven o’clock, so you’re sitting around a long time - and the other thing is you have 90 guys, not 46, so you’ve got twice as many guys. Your guys aren’t playing a full game.”
(On tight end Cameron Brate’s career thus far in the NFL)
“Yeah, it’s impressive. I was holding my breath when we lost him to the Saints [last season] - I’ve been a Cam fan. He’s come even further than that, but when we lost him to the Saints last year I was nervous. I thought the Saints were getting a really good guy, and it just worked out that we had a chance to get him back and thank God we did.”
(On what makes Brate so good in terms of development)
“He’s a good player. He’s 6’5, he can run, he’s smart, he’s coachable, he’s consistent, [and] he knows where to be and when to be there. That’s important. Guys that don’t make mistakes and then when you get a chance to make plays you’ve got to make them and he does. A high percentage of the time when he gets a chance to make a play, he makes it.”
(On tight end Danny Vitale’s practice performance thus far)
“I think tight end might be one of if not the deepest positon on our team. We’re transitioning; we’re going to be more of a two-tight end team, and we’re also going to be a three-wide out team but we need depth. If we’re going to have a couple out there all the time we need depth. And first of all at the tight end position, Luke Stocker sets the standard for all those guys with the way he works and the way he practices every day. Luke never gets talked about because he’s the tight end that’s not flashy and does all the dirty work. I’d take that guy on my team any day of the week. Luke is a good guy for [Vitale] to model in the role that he’ll be playing. Vitale is off to a good start and he’s learning every day, he’s learning how physical it is. He got rocked pretty good on a lead play by Daryl Smith today. He felt what it was like to hit a real NFL linebacker with a 172 starts. But he’s making some plays. You see he’s a versatile guy, he’s good on special teams, [and] has a linebacker body so that helps you on special teams.”
(On with the change of scenery today was it a chance for the players to have some fun playing on a baseball field)
“[Laughs] Well maybe that’s what you saw. I don’t know how much fun they were having, maybe if we needed some sliding practice on the dirt for the quarterbacks or something. I don’t know. It was different, because we’ve had the fans out here and so to not have the noise was a little bit different and not have that music blasting, that was different. It seemed really quiet to me, but you’d have to ask them how much fun they had.”
(On what the game plan will be for quarterback Jameis Winston on Thursday)
“I do have an idea, yes.”
(On a scuffle that broke out in practice)
“There are little fracases that break out of every day. I’ve said before: these are grown men they get irritated. We’re sitting here preaching ‘Compete, compete, compete,’ and when you’re competing against the same guys every day they’re going to get mad at each other. They’re always accusing each other of holding each other that’s why we had the refs. I mean O-line and D-line, they’re going to be going at it, receivers and [defensive backs] are going to go at it, tight end and linebackers and going to go at it. These are the most competitive guys in the world, they’re professional athletes. It’s going to happen. I don’t want anybody to get hurt in a fight, but at the same time I understand that it’s going to happen. If there is a real   fight they’ll get booted out, but that was just pushing and shoving.”
(On getting to the game phase in preseason)
“It’s definitely a milestone. It’s an opportunity to come out and take our frustration out on another team. It’s an opportunity to get better. They’ve got a lot of talent over there, their expectations are high, ours is high too and definitely a chance to go out there and compete and get better and to go against someone else on a different team. Now when you rush, you don’t have to slow off and when they’re beasting you, they’re not going to pull off. So we get an opportunity to go against some guys that don’t have that filter, that level of taking care of each other. There’s no more of that, there’s no hold barred, they’re seeking blood and so are we. It’s going to be a good challenge and looking forward to it.”
(On frustrations showing in practice today)
“I don’t necessarily see it as anything different as anything else. Guys competing and sometimes you get pissed off. They get pissed off at us, and we get pissed off at them. Hand may get thrown, but the way I look at it is that’s how it’s supposed to be. You’re battling against someone every day, you’re supposed to be mad, you’re supposed to respond with anger and emotion. It happens and the good thing about it is we’ve got a lot of pros and it’s in the past now, we move forward, we get better. If something happens tomorrow, if I get beasted, I’m going to get mad I’m going to try and respond. If I beast them, they’re going to get mad they’re going to try and respond and that’s what I like about this unit. There’s a bunch of guys going at each other’s neck, and that’s a good thing.”
(On if it’s good to be a bit aggressive in practice)
“Definitely. Every day we go out there and literally we watch film, and we feel like [offensive lineman] Ali [Marpet], he’s doing some extra stuff, or [center Joe] Hawley or [offensive lineman] Evan [Smith] or [offensive tackle] ‘Dot’ [Demar Dotson] or whoever. Every day we watch film, we’re like, ‘They’re doing something.’ I’m pretty sure they’re saying the same thing about us, but it’s just guys competing, it’s just guys trying to get better. There’s guys trying to win and trying to get the best of the other person, so every day that’s happening and sometimes [stuff] happens [laughs].”
(On if he’s always been that guy to bring extra intensity into practice)
“I wouldn’t say that. I do feel like I’m a naturally pissed off person and sometimes things happen and fights break out. I’ve never been part of a team where there aren’t fights and there aren’t guys going at each other’s neck, but it’s a nature of the beast. I want to win, they want to win. Only one person can win [laughs], so with that being said, it’s part of the game. Sometimes you may see one guy and you may think, ‘Oh, I’m don’t think I’m [any] different than [defensive end] Kourtnei Brown.’ He was out there throwing down first day of practice. [Defensive tackle] Gerald McCoy, he’s out there, he’s the same way. [Defensive tackle] Clinton [McDonald], he’s the same way, [linebackers] Lavonte [David], Kwon [Alexander], he’s a high-strung guy. I don’t consider myself to be [any] different from anybody else, but sometimes the spotlight is on you when you guys see it.”
(On seeing Defensive Coordinator Mike Smith’s attitude transfer to the field)
“Definitely, Coach Smith, that’s the mindset that he brings, but not just that. There’s a lot of guys that were here from last year that feel that way. Lavonte, he wants to win, that dude’s a dog, I’ve seen that from afar. He’s a beast, he’s one of the best linebackers in the game. Gerald McCoy, Clinton, he’s played at the highest level, he’s won Super Bowls. [Cornerback] Brent Grimes, he’s played at the highest level, he’s been on great teams. Even the young cats like [defensive end] Noah Spence, he’s played at Ohio State, he’s played at the highest level of ball at college. The rookies, so on and so forth, there’s guys that [are] hungry, that want to win. So not only is Coach Smith bringing that, there’s guys that already had that, and now the more guys you get like that, the better. We’re hungry man, and I see it in a lot guys, I see the way Gerald McCoy is out there. That dude sets the tempo, that dude’s a monster. To the offense’s credit, they’ve been competing with them, they’re not just taking it, they’re giving it back to him. You may see Gerald kick a lot of [butt], but they’re going back at him too, and that’s a good thing. Me, I want to follow his lead, I want to kick [butt] just like him. Lavonte and Kwon, you see Clinton out there, you see [defensive tackle] Cliff Matthews, that dude’s been picking it up. It’s contagious man, competition is contagious. We want to get it man, we want to win.”
(On if he ever talks to Alexander about being a leader for the defense)
“Every once in a while I may say something to him, but he’s a natural leader. You don’t have to say too much for him. He wants to bust heads, he wants to make plays, he wants to win and he wants to compete. He has a great coach that’s pushing them all. And I see Lavonte every day, every time we’re out there Lavonte is in his ear. And that’s the type of leader that he is, but Kwon is self-motivated, he’s hungry man, so I don’t have to say much to Kwon. He’s ready to go, I feel like he’s hungry based off of things that happened to him last year. He’s hungry, he’s out to prove a point, he’s ready to have a great second year. He’s a young guy but I consider him to be a captain on this defense, that’s how I look at him. The sky’s the limit for him and, like I said, I don’t have to say much to him, he’s motivated, he’s hungry and he understands the role and he’s ready to play, he’s ready to go.”
(On his journey to get to where he is now)
“It’s pretty crazy looking back. Two years ago I was kind of an afterthought, my rookie year I didn’t get too many reps in practice, was just hoping to catch on [in] any way. Luckily I got practice squad, got to play in a couple games my rookie year. Then last year, [I] was kind of at the bottom of the depth chart again. It was a major bummer to get cut, but it ended up working out for me. Just tried to stay as positive as I could, given the situation. Yeah, it’s pretty cool looking back, just kind of how far I’ve come.”
(On the difference between last year and this year in his growth)
“[Tight Ends] Coach [Jon] Embree does such a good job with us, we’re out there 30 minutes early every day working [on] blocking technique, really working on our routes. A big thing I think was confidence for me. Coming from a smaller school, not really playing too much my rookie year, just kind of believing in myself that I belonged in the league and kind of built my confidence up throughout the year last year when I started getting for reps, and kind of carried that over into OTAs and everything this spring and trying to do it again in the fall.”
(On Head Coach Dirk Koetter admitting he was nervous when Brate went to the Saints last year)
“Last year I got to see everyone when the Saints played the Bucs, I was on the Saints sideline obviously. But, yeah, I talked to Coach Koetter, all the coaches that game and they said, like, ‘Hopefully we’ll get you back soon’ and everything, and I was back the next day, actually I took a flight out Monday after the game on Sunday, so it all ended up working out pretty well.”
(On is if he’s always had good hands)
“For whatever reason I’ve always been able to catch a ball - it just kind of comes second nature to me. It’s something I take pride in. I’m learning to deal with dropping passes a little better because it’s going to happen from time to time. But that’s definitely one of my better attributes is my ability to catch balls for sure.”
(On his chemistry with quarterback Jameis Winston)
“I would say Coach Koetter does a really good job of using the tight ends. It’s a good offense to be in if you’re a tight end, definitely. But working with Jameis is awesome, just to see his growth from last year to this year, especially at this point of the year last year we were turning the ball over a lot, and just his command of the offense is awesome. And obviously great passer, very accurate, so it’s fun playing with him.”
(On practicing at Tropicana Field)
“It was different, it’s not my first time playing football in a baseball stadium [laughs]. But it was different, just really had to adjust to the turf. But we did good as a team adjusting and improvising everything, so [we] did good.”
(On how the offensive line has been doing without guard Kevin Pamphile the last couple of days)
“It’s been good, it’s tough with everything going on but it’s next man up. [Offensive lineman] Evan [Smith] has been doing a great job filling that space, and we just keep punching away. It’s been good though.”
(On if the offense is becoming more precise as camp goes on)
“Yeah, for sure. It just comes with reps, adjusting with the guys, communicating and everything; getting on the same page as a unit. So it’s been really good. We have been more precise on things and getting things done in our job and communication and everything, so it’s been really good and I do feel like we’re getting precise.”
(On the complexity of this year’s defense)
“The defense is throwing a lot at us, and it’s only going to help us come season time. We just got to go with whatever looks they’re giving us and fit it in to how we block it and protect it and go from there.”
(On if the blitzing is more intricate)
“It’s just a lot in general, I can’t pinpoint [anything].”
(On how much it helps to have quarterback Jameis Winston set the tone in practice)
“It helps a lot; everybody needs a little pick-me-up here and there. But just having him constantly – it’s just a great asset to the team and that’s just his natural leading abilities and him being a quarterback. Just his drive to get better and get the team better because, like I said, we all work as one and that’s what he pushes for and for us to shine.”

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