HEAD COACH DIRK KOETTER
(On the team adding safety T.J. Ward)
"We did. Yeah, we sure did. He's a good football player and as we've said many times, I haven't been on that team yet that has too many good football players."
(On what Ward projects to do for the Buccaneers in Week One)
"That will just depend. Too early to say – he just got here at midnight last night. By the time he got his physical done, he didn't even go to meetings this morning. Players are off this afternoon, they're off tomorrow, and we'll know a lot more later in the week."
(On if it's difficult for a player in Ward's position to transition to a new team quickly)
"It's different with every single player. I think the fact that he's a veteran, he's been with two different teams [helps]. We did our homework on him – he's a very sharp guy, gets football. This guy is like a coach on the field is what the people who have had him before [said]. But every single player's different."
(On if the Bucs will try to get Ward on the field as much as possible)
"Again, that will – this all happened fast. This all happened quickly. When he's ready, it all works itself out. That stuff all works itself out. It doesn't matter how you do it, eventually the cream always rises to the top. It always does."
(On what the NFL has told the Buccaneers and Dolphins about potential problems with the hurricane)
"They've just told us that they've started their preparations and they're working on multiple contingency plans, too numerous to mention. Again, it's premature. It is a possibility and they're working on it."
(On if the league indicated if they were trying to make a decision by Wednesday or Thursday)
"I don't know the answer to that. I don't think there's been any determination. They're following it and I don't know when the deadline is."
(On how hard it would be if the Tampa Bay-Miami game was moved back to the teams' shared bye week)
"What do you think? Nobody wants that. No one wants to play 16 straight. Again, they're not asking my opinion, but I'm sure they realize that."
(On if he'd have an issue with playing the game on Thursday)
"Again, guys, I don't know what they're going to do. I just got through giving the players a big speech about, 'Control what you can control and don't worry about the rest,' and I have no control over this."
(On what he had seen in the existing group of safeties before the addition of Ward)
"As I've said many times, your guys are your guys, so whatever guys we have I think they're the best 53 in the world. We feel like we were deeper than we were at safety. Remember, we only carried three safeties most of the time last year, so we felt like we were deeper than we were a year ago and we were all set to go that way. And then late, late, late, late Saturday night, it changed."
(On defensive end Jacquies Smith returning to practice)
"He just returned to practice today; he was out there in pads today and he got a few reps. I mean, he's been out for a long time and it's a lot different doing the mock drills with the trainers than it is playing against other grown men. So we'll just see how long it takes, but I don't think it's too far off."
(On if it's realistic to think all 22 of the team's projected starters will be ready Sunday)
"It's realistic, but I'm not sure who you're counting as our 22 projected starters. Whoever we have out there, those are our 22."
(On if there are any positions where the starter isn't determined yet)
"I don't know who you're counting as our 22, so I don't know what you're counting them as. Jameis [Winston], we can say there's one of the 22."
(On Ward being a good in-the-box safety)
"We played them [last year] when he was in Denver and you guys all read the quotes [from] the players – he was the heart and soul of their defense, whatever they called it, the 'No-Fly Zone' or whatever. He was the guy behind all that. Everywhere he's been they've said, again, he's like a coach on the field, he's an enforcer, he's the kind of guy that you want to have on your side."
(On the problems that Miami defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh presents being comparable to Gerald McCoy)
"That's a very good comparison. It is very similar to Gerald when you play our team. The guy is a game-wrecker from the interior of the defensive line, has been for a long time. I thought he had a really good last year – of course we’ve studied a lot of last year's film – and picked right up this preseason doing it the same way."
(On if the Bucs would change their defense around Ward's skillset)
"No, no. We couldn't do that at this point right now. We'll be cross-training him the same way."
(On players like Bernard Reedy, Channing Ward and Cameron Lynch making the team)
"They earned it. Plain and simple, those guys earned it. Cutting guys is not fun. Especially at the wide receiver position, a lot of guys we had to let go, I have a history with some of those guys. When I told them, 'Hey, Bernard played the best,' it was tough for anybody to disagree with that. I think that sends a great message to our players, that the guys that played the best – it's not like it's over a week, it's over a six-week period – the guys that played the best made our team. That didn't make the decisions any easier. We said goodbye to some guys that we like a lot and we think are NFL-caliber players. But I think in the case of the guys that you mentioned, they earned it."
(On what rookie tight end Antony Auclair had to show to make the team)
"We liked Antony going clear back to when we saw him over in St. Pete in practices over there [for the East-West Shrine Game]. Much like the things we say about O.J. [Howard], the type of tight end that he is, those guys just don't come around that much, tight ends that can do the things we like our tight ends to do. So he just had to show us that we weren't dreaming, that that was all really true, that he could do those things. He's a much-improved player and I think he continues to get better every week out there."
(On what he sees different in Jameis Winston compared to a year ago)
"I think just continued growth overall. As I've said many times up here, experience is the best teacher. Jameis has just completed his third training camp, his third preseason, same system. He knows the offense like the back of his hand. He's out there directing traffic. He's always been a guy that’s calm under pressure. I think just him running the show, him running the no-huddle, him making adjustments at the line, him getting us in and out of plays – I think he's better in all those areas, plus the things that we asked him to improve. His accuracy was 10-12 percent better across the board, his deep-ball throwing [improved]. I think [it was] just across-the-board improvement."
(On the team voting on captains)
"Yeah, we did it today. It was Gerald McCoy, Lavonte David, Kwon Alexander, Jameis Winston, Mike Evans and Josh Robinson."
(On if he had a meeting with Doug Martin before Martin's suspension began and if teammates are allowed to talk to him during the next three weeks)
"That's a good question right there. I did have a final meeting with Doug, yes, had it at the stadium on Thursday night. No one inside our organization is able to have contact with Doug. As far as the players, I don't really know that but I'm also not the one policing it so I don't know. I don't know the answer to that."
(On Miami quarterback Jay Cutler)
"He's a strong-armed, quick-release guy, stand in the pocket. He's been a little streaky in his career and when he's hot he's red-hot. We've seen him light teams up. This week, he's Joe Namath to us. He's the greatest quarterback because he's the one we're playing this week."
(On reserve offensive linemen Leonard Wester and Caleb Benenoch)
"Wester and Caleb Benenoch are still – that's one thing that will still be determined this week, who that swing-tackle will be. We're happy with both those guys. We've got two young guys, they can both play both tackle spots and Caleb can also play the inside. One of those two guys will be up and one of them will be inactive, as we sit here today."
(On if Evan Smith and Joe Hawley would be competing for one game-day active spot)
"Possibly, yeah, possibly."
(On managing the team amid concerns about the hurricane)
"We'll have to talk more about that on Wednesday when we have a team meeting. We'll know a little bit more about the weather and we'll know a little bit more about what the contingencies are. I think we've also got to remember, these guys all have families, they all have people they care about. Obviously whatever cities are going to be affected – we're just coming right off a terrible one in Houston – so there's a lot to consider. To think that those guys are just going to hop on a plane if there's some kind of danger to their families and not be bothered by it, that would be foolish to think that way. That all has to go into it, and those are things we'll be thinking about over the next few days."