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26 April 2016

Transcript: Tampa Bay Buccaneers 2016 Voluntary Mini-Camp Media Availability (4/26/16)

Below is a selection of Tampa Bay Buccaneers quotes from today’s earlier media availability:
Head Coach Dirk Koetter
Linebacker Kwon Alexander
Defensive End Robert Ayers
Wide Receiver Mike Evans
Tackle Donovan Smith
(Opening Statement)
“How are we doing today? Veteran voluntary mini-camp. [laughs] We had a lot of volunteers out there. We had a lot of eager volunteers. It was fantastic to be out there. The coaches couldn’t wait to be out there, get out with the players. A little bit unique, you know. We go from Phase I right into Phase III, so we cut the reps down quite a bit today and then we also – a little bit warmer out there today than it has been. But it was great to be out there and exciting to be back to work.”
(On if he’s been eyeing this day on the calendar)
“Well [laughs], there’s a lot of days you’re eyeing, but it was awful fun to get out there and go.”
(On his expectations for wide receiver Louis Murphy during this mini-camp)
“Well this time of year in Louis’ case – we have multiple players coming off injuries in the offseason. Again, we’re in a unique situation where we have this mini-camp in between [offseason phases], so in the particular case of Murph, he is not going to be back until sometime in training camp. He’s on a total rehab program right now. It’s tough on any injured player to have to watch. These guys don’t like to watch, but that’s his situation right now.”
(On quarterback Jameis Winston’s improved physique)
“Well a lot of our guys have come back in really good shape. We’re pleased with where several guys are. Jameis has been the most highly publicized and not only did Jameis work with Tim Grover, but he also worked a lot with Dave Kennedy, our strength coach. Jameis was very dedicated this offseason program and like Jameis always says, he does know how to work and hard work pays off. He looks good, but there are a lot of other guys that go all over the country to different places and then come back and forth with our strength coaches and we’re pleased with the majority of them.”
(On where Winston’s improved physique will help him the most)
“Well, that’s hard to say. You would hope just learning how to manage his body through the course of a regular season, but let’s face it, Jameis made it through last year and played every play fine. But the ability to stay healthy through the long season would be the best place.”
(On other players who have come to mini-camp in better shape)
“That puts me on the spot right there. We measured and ‘bodyfatted’ everybody when they came back and you know, you got guys all over the board. Some good, some not so good, but nothing unusual with that. Some guys work really hard and it’ll show up as time goes on out there.”
(On the performance of wide receivers Andre Davis and Kenney Bell’s at practice)
“You know, we were practicing so fast out there – those one-on-one periods were flying – it was hard for me to focus on anything other than making sure the drill was organized. But we have good competition behind Vince [Vincent Jackson] and Mike [Evans] at wide receiver. A lot of good young guys. Andre Davis, that you mentioned, is a young guy we signed late last year and did a good job for us on scout team. He’s a guy that worked hard this offseason and he’s definitely got something to prove and Kenny Bell’s case is well documented. He was on IR [Injured Reserve] last year and I know he’s eager to get started, but none of that jumped out. We’re going to go watch the tape after this. I’ll know more about that tomorrow.”
(On Davis catching a touchdown in practice)
“He did? [Signals touchdown] One for the Bucs.”
(On if having the mini-camp before the draft was on purpose)
“They actually have strict rules. There’s only two weeks you could have it, you either had to have it last week or this week. We chose to go straight through with our 10 weeks, so we’re having it this week. I think that is a really nice added bonus for our defensive coaches and also for Jason [Licht] and John Spytek and the personnel. They get to see these guys on the grass, even though we’re going to butt right up against the draft on Thursday, but I do think that’s a nice little added bonus.”
(On his thoughts entering the draft)
“Yeah, excited. We put a lot of work in. Jason and his guys have put in a ton of work in, the coaches have put a ton of work in. My first time being in the role of head coach and seeing all stuff on the backside of the curtain over there, all the lockdown and the hours that go into the preparation, the scenarios, the ‘what-ifs’, the trade situations, the medical reports on guys. My first time watching a hundred defensive players on tape. I’ve never done that before, I’ve always been watching just offensive guys. I’m anxious to see how it plays out. You look at all those mock drafts out there and it seems like we’ve been going through these mock drafts forever and then the trades and they change them again. It really is amazing how excited everybody is and we’re excited too. Excited to see who’s going to be joining us.”
(On how fortunate he feels to have a franchise quarterback)
“Very fortunate. You can see from what’s happened this year – teams that think it’s up there, how much they’re willing to give up. It is mind-boggling to see how much teams are willing to give up to go up and get a guy that they perceive as that guy. Unfortunately for us, to get what we got as the Bucs – in the history – we had to finish with a bad record and let’s hope we’re not picking in the top 10 too many more times, that we’re able to add some more players and get out of this top 10 because we’re winning some games.”
(On the importance of camaraderie between the players)
“Yeah, there’s some importance there. We have good guys on this team and Jason has put together long before I was here. They’ve put together a good group of guys. We have good players. That does play some factor in it – hard to measure exactly how much – but definitely some. Our guys are easy to work with, they’re eager to be coached. That’s important, but the bottom line is we have to take it out there on the grass, we have to get better and we have to figure out how we can win games.”
(On the absence of guard J. R. Sweezy)
“J. R. is here, he just wasn’t on the field today. J.R. had to have an offseason procedure done and he’s going to be out for OTAs. He will to be back and ready to go for training camp. As I said on the front end, we’re starting a little bit earlier than some teams and you have to realize that there’s tons of guys in the league that are having some offseason things cleaned up. J.R. falls into that category and unfortunately he’s going to miss this OTA mini-camp session but he should be good to go come fall camp.”
(On the absence of guard Ali Marpet)
“Ali is another guy that fits in that boat. Ali is another guy that had a procedure done after the season. He was actually on the field doing some rehab. Guys are in different stages of rehab. Some of that rehab takes place on the field, some of that is in the weight room, some of that is in the training room – guys on different levels. We don’t have any guy on our team right now that we don’t anticipate will be with us for training camp.”
(On his first practice as an NFL head coach)
“I have to admit I was a little nervous today. I don’t know why. It’s coaching football, you’ve been doing it for your whole life, but nervous in a good way. Anxious more than anything else. I couldn’t wait to see this coaching staff work and excited to see the players back and out there interacting with this coaching staff.”
(On what he hopes to come away with after this week)
“Just improvement and then as I said, a couple of other things. We have a new defensive system going in and a new special teams system going in, so this has been great for our defensive players and coaches. If you were out there, the offense can go pretty fast right now because it’s not new – all the same terminology. The defense is having to catch up – learning a new language as far as communication, so for our defensive players and coaches to be able to have that experience getting just three practices and two walkthroughs in, that’s going to help us so much. Then we go through three weeks of Phase II and then come back into OTAs where we can probably have a more substantial OTA period than if we would’ve just not had these three days.”
(On his knowledge of the offense making it a well-oiled machine)
“Well, I’m not sure we were well oiled today. We’re going to work towards that. But just watching Mike Smith work today and the frustration – we have the walkie talkie and we’re going fast and you’re trying to get the huddle in there, where on the offensive side – it should be that way. It should be smooth. We’ve done it all. Mike Bajakian handled all of the communication on the offensive side – I mean, that’s why you practice. This is just a mini-camp, okay? This is just a mini-camp in shorts and nobody is going to win and nobody is going to lose today, but we’re making progress to where we need to get to.”
(On if he prefers practice to be fast-paced)
“I think just in general, we need to work smart and one of the reasons we need to work smart – which may also be short – is because of the conditions we have here. When it’s warm out there, we need to get our guys fresh on game day and not kill them during the week. We will be very conscious of how much we work. That’s just something that I’ve become very aware of from coaches and players that I’ve worked with over the years. I’ll monitor our volume very closely and keep a real close eye on that.”
(On if the duration of practice will be shorter or higher tempo)
“Both. Now tempo-wise, I’m a big believer in fast tempo. It makes the player communicate, they have to pay attention, they have to be on point, they can’t be drifting around looking around out there, so practicing fast is a good thing. We probably went a little bit too fast today and that’s my fault. I should’ve slowed it down a bit, but we’ll get it fixed tomorrow.”
(On wide receiver Mike Evans leaving the field early)
“I didn’t really catch what happened there. Mike made a double move and I saw him make a nice catch and he ran about 60 yards with the ball. It looked like he did get a little overheated. Again, first time they’ve had their helmets on and if you’ve ever put a helmet on on an 85-degree day, it’s a little bit of a different feeling. I’m not exactly sure what happened to Mike there at the end. They told me it wasn’t serious and I’m sure he’ll be good to go tomorrow.”
(On what fans can look forward to from the 2015 draft class after last year’s success)
“Look forward to some hard working guys. Guys out there having fun. We’re young guys; we’re going to be out there having fun. We’re going to get a lot of victories this year.”
(On his message to players who might be drafted to Tampa Bay)
“You want to come play with our team, especially if you’re on defense – and offense. Defense, we’re going to do some things. Offense has already been doing some things. We’re going to have a pretty good year this year.”
(On Defensive Coordinator Mike Smith)
“Mike Smith brings a lot of energy. He’s a very good coach. The defense is running; it’s going to be a real good defense. Everybody’s excited about it and we can’t wait to get on the field.”
(On how he would describe Smith’s defense)
“Aggressive. It’s a scheme that you can go out there and have fun and make plays.”
(On if it felt good to be back on the field)
“Yeah, it’s always good to get out here. This is what I do. To be out here with my guys – I’m excited to get coached up. It’s the best part of the year.”
(On his impressions of the team so far)
“The guys are hungry to win. You know, things haven’t been going the way this organization would have wanted them to go the last couple of years, but these guys want to win. They’re eager for knowledge and we have a staff that’s willing to give it to us and we’re embracing the challenge of – we have high expectations. We’re just a group that’s ready to win, ready to work, so I love it.”
(On the team’s work ethic)
“Everybody is just getting it. You know, everybody has different things they need to work on. For me it may be one thing, for another guy it may be another. But everybody is tuned in and dialed in on the defensive scheme and trying to get better and help the next man get better at the same time.”
(On the difference being on the field versus in the classroom)
“Out here you get see who can apply the knowledge that you learned to what you’re doing out here. You go from one aspect – when you’re in the classroom you’re just talking about things. Most guys in this league – they’re learners, they need to go out there and do it, so to be able to come out here and do that and work and communicate – and a lot of guy are new, like myself. I get to go out here and be next to Gerald [McCoy] and be next to Clinton [McDonald], be next to ‘Vonte [Lavonte David] and so forth and they can see who I am and I can see who they are. That’s the good thing about this time right here.”
(On how far the defense is from where they want to be at the start of the season)
“Right now we’re terrible. That’s expected this time of year. Nobody knows anything. But the thing is it’s expected and you got guys that are willing to learn. If the staff told you they wanted us to come out here and get 100 percent right, or 90, or even 80 percent of things right they’d be lying to you. They have high expectations, but the reality of it is you have to come out here, you have to get better, you got to have the intent, you got to have the want-to to come out here and get better and to learn and as long as you have that it will make up for everything else. But it’s going to be a progress and we are just going to keep working and keep getting better and keep learning.”
(On his expectations of playing defensive end or defensive tackle)
“I’m working wherever you tell me to go. You know, I don’t really care. I just want to win, I just want to make plays and I want to kick the other team’s [butts]. Where you tell me to do it at doesn’t really matter, but it’s so early right now we’re not really getting to that. We’re just working on technique and scheme and learning and communicating and getting to know the guy next to you and that’s the main focus right now. “
(On how he would describe defensive coordinator Mike Smith’s scheme)
“Just like anything, if you were to ask him, ‘What do you think of Robert Ayers?’ he probably couldn’t tell you too much. I will say right now the scheme – he’s been at it for a while and there’s a lot of things that he asks guys to do and that are not difficult to learn but you have to put in the work and, just like anything, if you put in the work it will come to you. He’s going to give us the tools to be successful and we just have to learn it and go out there and apply it on Sundays and apply it out here in this mini-camp. We’ll be able to see how things turn out, but it’s too early to tell right now.”
(On how this scheme differs from what Smith used in Atlanta)
“I don’t know what he did in Atlanta. I wasn’t on that team. It’s new things from what I did last year, but like I said, everybody is learning and expectations are high and we’re just working.”
(On overcoming adversity as a child)
“You can’t give up. There’s no excuse to give up, no matter the hand you’re dealt. You just have to keep fighting and make something positive out of it.”
(On forgiving the man who killed his father)
“It was difficult. Me being so young, you know, I was naïve at the time. It was tough. But you have to look at it from his point of view. You’ll see the story tonight [on E:60], if you guys want to watch. It’s a horrific story. I saw the small clip they showed on Outside the Lines and there were things I haven’t seen yet. It was a little upsetting, but it’s old and it happened, so [I] just have to move forward and keep doing what I’m doing.”
(On not often speaking about his childhood)
“Nobody ever asked me about it, so I didn’t feel the need to tell anybody. I don’t want anybody feeling sorry for me or anything like that. They came to me and I don’t mind talking about it. It happened and it made me who I am today. It’s a good story and I hope people can get a good message from it.”
(On quarterback Jameis Winston in his second season)
“We’re more comfortable with each other. Everybody’s more comfortable with everyone now. Second year going into the offense, it’s going to be great. I hope we do great things. He’s just being more of a leader than ever. That’s going to be great for us in the long run.”
(On Winston’s new physique)
“Absolutely. He’s lost a lot of weight. He’s slimmed down. I was joking with him the other day, he took his shirt off and I said, ‘Man, what happened to the belly?’ [laughter]. He’s got a six-pack like me. He’s put in a tremendous amount of work and I think it’s going to be a great year for him and this whole team.”
(On Winston’s offseason work with athletic trainers)
“I’m going to get some work in with them, too, after OTAs and minicamp and things like that.”
(On what Winston’s offseason work has done for him)
“I think it only can propel him. He’s already a great player and he will be great. He just continues to work. The sky’s the limit for him.”
(On his first experience with an NFL offseason)
“It was great. I definitely took a week or two off after the season. Obviously, playing every snap, every play, your body took a little bit of a beating, but I was able to go start training again after two weeks off and then I went out to Cali for about a month and was working out out there.”
(On what it was like not to have to prepare for the draft this year)
“It was great to be able to just relax. It also just – I had so much time. Last year, my agent had a calendar for me to follow. This year it was like, all right, wake up, eat, work out, and then you still have a whole day to do nothing [laughing]. So you work out again and then just try to find stuff, like go bowl 12 games in two hours [laughing]. It was just great to be able to experience it. You learn from the first go-around and you get better. Next year, [you can] improve on something whether it’s technique, doing more position work, or whether it’s working out a certain type of way or doing different things.”
(On quarterback Jameis Winston having lost weight)
“He’s in great shape. He’s toned up a little bit and he’s excited. So are we.”
(On what he would improve upon from last season)
“Just consistency and technique. I want to take my shots. There were a lot of times I see myself being my own worst enemy on the field in terms of being overzealous and trying to be too aggressive or something like that. It’s just being able to know when to take your shots and just honing your techniques.”
(On the importance of the comradery in the locker room)
“It’s great. I say we have one of the best locker rooms. Everybody talks to everybody. Obviously you’re going to have your little cliques, but everybody is cool with everybody. Like I said, we’ve been paintballing, bowling, different things. At the end of the day, we’re all brothers and like to have fun. I try to show a little bit of it on Twitter and stuff. We just like to have fun.”
(On whether he would be surprised if Tampa Bay drafted a tackle on Thursday night)
“You just never know. It’s the NFL Draft. I didn’t think I was going to go where I went. Anything can happen. You just leave it to the hands of upstairs, [General Manager] Jason Licht, the head coach and everything. They’ve got it all handled.”

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