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27 July 2017

Transcript: Tampa Bay Buccaneers 2017 Training Camp Media Availability (7/27/17)

Below is a selection of Tampa Bay Buccaneers quotes from today’s earlier media availability:
Linebacker Kwon Alexander
Wide Receiver Mike Evans
Tight End O.J. Howard
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(On his new tattoo)
“I do have one on my back for my brother. He’s going to always have my back. It’s going to be good.”
(On how long it took to get the tattoo)
“It took about six hours. A lot of pain, but it was worth it. I had some parts already done. I just put the stadium on there with the people and then the pictures and stuff like that.”
(On what he hopes to get out of training camp)
”To become a great team. For everybody to come together. We are going to be working hard this camp. [There are] going to be a lot of great things that [are] going to happen.”
(On what the team has to prove)
“First of all, we just have to come together. We aren’t worrying about what everybody else thinks right now. If we come together, as a team and as a family, we can do a lot of big things. That’s all we are worrying about right now.”
(On making the leap to the postseason)
“Last year was in the past. This year it’s going to happen. I know it’s going to happen. Like I said, we are just going to go out here and work hard, you know, come together and just play for each other and we can do it.”
(On filling the SAM spot this season)
“We’ve got a couple great guys at SAM right now that are going to work hard and compete for that position. We are trying to see right now when we get the pads on, that’s when it really matters. OTAs really [don’t] matter, until we put the pads on and see what is really going to happen. We are going to see out here at camp.”
(On hitting the ground running this season)
“Yeah we are going to be able to hit the ground running. We have been in this system already. It took us a little minute last year to get it all together, but then we put it together and then we made our run. Now we’re [all comfortable] with the system. Everybody just has to get back into the playbook and get it all down pat with no mistakes. We just need no mistakes, no big plays and then we are going to do a good job.”
(On excitement to get started)
“Man, I’m very excited. I am ready to go today. If I could go out there today, I would. I’m just ready to get back with my team. I was so happy to see them in there. Everybody is excited and ready to go. [There is] just a lot of energy in the locker room.”
(On fighting for respect)
“I don’t know, man. I feel like when we start winning, we will all get our respect, you know what I mean? That’s the plan, you know, to start winning and get some games under our belt, and I’ll come out there eventually. I’m not rushing it. It’s going to come.”
(On not being ranked in top linebacker groups by Willie McGinest)
“I went to the Nike Open (a Nike-sponsored event hosting the nation’s top high school recruits) and I [saw] him out there and he said something to me. I was like, ‘Yeah man, we need our respect though. You aren’t giving us any respect.’ But you know, he was a great guy. He understood what I was saying. He was just saying that different groups. That was for like all linebackers: MIKE, SAM and the WILL, so that was for all of them. But I talked to him about it, you know, put our name out there, so I got out of there fine with it.”
(On his involvement with Kendell Beckwith’s rehab)
“I’m not surprised, man. He’s a dog. He is going to be ready, especially when we put the pads on. He is going to be hitting some people. He [is going to] be ready. He is very excited and very anxious to get back out there and he learned the plays pretty fast too, so I just can’t wait to see how he is going to progress.”
(On who will be the Hard Knocks star)
“I don’t know. We are going to see. We have got a lot of great guys on our team. A lot of guys with a lot of energy, so whoever it’s going to be, is just going to be it.”
(On how to approach high expectations)
“We just take it one day at a time. Just go out there and work hard. You know, it’s going to come. Just take it one day at a time. Don’t look ahead. Every minute, every second, just be focused and get straight to it and we are going to do some great things.”
(On his favorite part of training camp)
“Everything about it. That we get to start back, you know. Then it’s closer to [when] we get to play games and everything too, so we don’t have that long. So you’ve got to be ready and on your shoes. I am just ready. I’m just anxious to get back out there and hit somebody.”
(On the biggest improvement the defense needs to make)
“The biggest improvement? Just cut out the mistakes and the big plays. If we do that, we are going to have a pretty great defense. We are going to fly around, we are going to hit and we are going to get a lot of turnovers. It’s just going to be a great year – a fun year.”
(On having his picture on the side of Raymond James Stadium)
“I was happy. I was excited, you know. I didn’t know. Somebody sent it to me on Twitter. I was like, ‘Whoa.’ I was just excited because, you know, coming from where I am from, you never know if you are going to be on the stadium or not and I was just excited. I told my mom. I was with my mom and my dad at the time and I showed them and they [were] excited. Everyone was just happy, man. I am blessed to be up there.”
(On handling anticipation and expectations coming into this season)
“I feel the same way, we haven’t won anything yet. We haven’t been to the playoffs in my three years here, going on year four. But, that’s the goal every year, to make the playoffs. I see why there’s a lot of excitement, we have a really good team and a really good roster. So hopefully we all stay healthy and put in the work and we can reach our goal which is the playoffs. In the tournament, anything can happen.”
(On how the team will be better than last year)
“Offensively. Our defense played great, I think they’re going to be even better. But, our offense is going to have more explosive plays with the key additions we got in ‘D-Jack’ [Desean Jackson], OJ [Howard], and Chris Godwin. All those guys are great players and they’ll help us a lot. So I think in the explosive category, we’ll be better.
(Biggest area of improvement needed to work on from a team standpoint)
“Not beating ourselves. Penalties, have to cut those down for sure and turnovers. If we can be better in that, we have a chance every game.”
(On how the addition of offensive threats has benefited quarterback Jameis Winston)
“I mean, he’s going on year three and he’s already one of the best quarterbacks in the league in my eyes and he will only improve in time. Giving him these new weapons, he’s going to be an even better player than he already is. He’s just a great leader, we love being around him. We love his attitude, and his preparation for the game is second to none. He’s going to be a great player for a long, long time and this year he is going to explode I think.”
(On if the receivers will create more separation to allow Jameis easier throwing lanes)
“He has good arm talent, so he likes to makes those throws. I mean, guys will be open more I’m sure. But, we’ll see.”
(On what he wanted to work on and improve personally over the offseason)
“You know, I’ve said it plenty of times. I want to get better at ‘YAC’[yards after completion]. I didn’t have much opportunity last year because guys were always around me. So, what’s the point of me getting one extra yard? So, I’m trying to improve on that aspect, the ‘YAC’, and I think that will improve the team a lot.”
(On how he has spent the last six weeks off and away from One Buc)
“A lot of family time. My wife’s grandfather passed. She was close to him. So, I’ve been there for her and her family and just working out and hanging with my family.”
(On his offseason workout regimen)
“I just do the normal stuff: boxing, running routes. I don’t play basketball, but I get shots in. Just doing things like that.”
(On if the team has something to prove)
“Of course, of course. We haven’t been to the playoffs since 2010? When was the last time we went to the playoffs? 2007? All right, so 10 years. So hopefully we can break that. So yeah, we have a lot to prove. We’re good on paper, but we’ve got to do it.”
(On if he has continued working on staying light in the offseason)
“Absolutely. Absolutely, I’m eating better. I love to eat bad food, you know I live in Texas so we have Whataburger, we have seafood. We’ve got all that. So, I try to find a happy medium of eating bad then eating right. But, my weight is good right now though.”
(On his favorite cheat meal)
“There’s this place in Houston called Lotus Seafood. It’s like a ‘hood’ spot where everybody goes down there. They have this thing called a Loud Pack. It’s shrimp fried rice with extra shrimp, crawfish in there. All kinds of stuff; potatoes, sausages. It’s off the chain.”
(On who will break out during the taping of Hard Knocks)
“Jameis. My sleeper pick? Kwon Alexander. He’s fun to practice against and with. He’s going to bring a lot of energy, fun, and a lot of competiveness.”
(On Kwon Alexander’s red hair)
“I just saw him in the hotel. I checked into the hotel and saw his hair. That’s what he wants to do. I mean, I like it.”
(On if wide receiver Chris Godwin has surprised him during OTAs)
“He didn’t surprise me. I’ve watched him a little bit at Penn State; good deep ball threat. He’s bigger than people think, he’s close to my height. He’s a big guy, he can catch the ball real well, and he’s smooth in his route running. Coach Monken is going to just enhance his game and take it to the next level.”
(On tight end OJ Howard’s Madden rating)
“What was his Madden rating? 82? Better than I was as a rookie.”
(On advice he’d give to Howard in his rookie season)
“Just play football. That’s what the vets told me, so that’s what I did, and that’s what he’s going to do. He impressed a lot of people, including myself, in OTAs. He’s big, he can run and he’s super fast. He has like some wiggle to him. I haven’t seen him with the pads on blocking yet, but as a pass catcher he’s legit.”
(On chemistry with wide reciever Desean Jackson)
“We’re good. He just picked me up from the airport, had to drop off the rental car at the airport. I called him and he picked me up no problem. He’s a good guy to have in our locker room and a good guy to have on the field.”
(On if he has learned anything from Jackson so far)
“Here and there, I can’t really point out the things that I’ve learned. He’s big on film, movies and stuff. I just watched the episode of Ballers he was on. Episode one, that’s pretty cool.”
(On what he thinks of Jackson as a player)
“He’s a beast, he’s a beast. He’s one of the best deep ball threats this league has seen. Behind guys like Randy Moss. ‘D-Jack’ [Jackson] is one of the most explosive players to ever play. He’s so small, but he just gets the job done because he beats you down the field.”
(On who he is looking forward to watching in training camp)
“J.R. Sweezy. We missed him last year. He had that back problem last year, but he looks healthy this year. He’s mean, too. I’m looking forward to seeing him play.”
(On why Sweezy is perceived as ‘mean’)
“Just his demeanor and how physical he is. He has to pull up on guys because we don’t have pads on. But, when he gets pads on, I don’t want to be in his way.”
(On the potential of seeing more man-to-man coverage this season)
“I love man coverage, everyone knows that every receiver loves man coverage one-on-one. It’s just you versus him. So, I’m looking forward to seeing if the roll that safety over there, then we have other weapons on the field.”
(On what makes Kwon Alexander special and why he doesn’t get recognized more)
“Kwon Alexander’s drive is his passion. He loves the game of football. He flies around and he’s undersized. They say he’s undersized, but he’s not that small. That’s a lot of guys on our team, we don’t have that big of a market yet. But when we start winning more it’s starting to improve already. We had our first winning season in a long time. That will improve with winning, guys will start getting the recognition they deserve. Kwon Alexander is one of the top linebackers in the game in my opinion.”
(On the talent level on this team as compared to his first three years)
“Yeah, this is the best talent we’ve had since I’ve been here, by far. We’re all excited, I’m excited. We have practice tomorrow, so we’ll be ready to go.”
(On how he would rate himself from his first year in the league to now)
“Rookie year, ‘B-’. ‘C+’ my second year, and last year a ‘B+.’ I’m going to improve, I will improve. I’m feeling stronger and I’m getting older and more mature. The game is slowing down each year. So, I’m just looking to improve to get on that ‘A’ grade.”
(On how the team can learn from recent success of other NFC South teams getting to Super Bowl)
“I mean yeah, that’s the goal. They’ve done it in Atlanta and Carolina, so hopefully it’s our turn. But, it’s not that simple. We have to go through the season and see, but that will be the goal.”
(On his first training camp after six weeks off)
"Yeah, it's six weeks off but it's really not 'off.' You have to keep in shape, you have to train, keep the football mindset. Coming back two days early kind of helped a lot, too. It kind of gets you back in the football mindset."
(On the community work he did in his hometown during the break)
"I started my annual backpack giveaway in my community for all the kids to go back to school – new supplies, we had games, football drills, all kinds of fun stuff. It's just a way to give back to where I grew up and keep school first in all the kids' lives."
(On why he focuses his community work on kids)
"Because, honestly, without education I don't think you can go too far in life nowadays. A lot of kids just think it's about sports, but if you don't make the grades you won't be able to play sports. I always just try to keep that in their minds to keep them focused."
(On if he is nervous about his first camp)
"I wouldn't say 'nervous.' I came through OTAs – that's nothing like camp, of course – but just being around all the guys on the team there's no reason to be nervous because all of them are just laid-back, they're all cool guys. I'm just going out there to play football."
(On if he has gotten advice from anyone in the football world about approaching camp)
"A lot of guys, mainly in the tight end, like Luke [Stocker] and Cam [Brate], those are guys that every day they give you tips about how to be a pro. I just sit back and listen because those guys have done it for so long. Those are just a few guys. I have guys from my alma mater that I always talk to and they give me tips also, but Cam and Luke are two guys on the team [who help me] for sure."
(On if he conditions himself to be on the field for every snap)
"I think that had a lot to do with, in college, sometimes you've got to play all the downs. The best shape that you're in, it allows you to be the best player when other guys are tired in the fourth [quarter]. So I think it's very important."
(On how he thinks he performed in OTAs and the mini-camp)
"I would say definitely I improved every practice. I would say – we have a motto in our room: 'Don't make the same mistake twice.' I'm trying to mess up on something new, if that makes sense. I don't want to be taking back-steps. I'd say I improved every day but I'm definitely not where I want to be. I want to be a be able to come in and help the team any way I can. I think that will happen over training camp once I keep getting reps on certain plays."
(On the biggest difference between being a freshman at Alabama and a rookie in the NFL)
"I would say mostly mental, just knowing the little things. In the NFL, every guy is really good. Like Coach said earlier, it's like the Alabama-LSU matchup every day. That's exactly what it is – it's an SEC game every day for me. There are no non-conference games. Everybody's good, you have to have great technique and know it's more mental than anything."
(On if he paid attention to the NFL while at Alabama)
"You know, a little bit, not as much. We really never had time in college, honestly, at my school. We had something to do every day – even on Sundays we had to go in and report. So I never got a chance to really watch football except on Thursday nights. I didn't have a favorite team. I would just turn on the TV and watch football. I wasn't really looking at the Xs and Os as much. So not really a lot, I didn't watch a lot of NFL football."
(On if he has something to prove in training camp)
"Yeah. Everyone should. I think, for myself, I want to go out and be the best player I can be so I can help the team. I don't feel like I have to do too much, or I don't feel like there's a lot of pressure on me. I just feel like I have to go out there and help my team any way they need me."
(On working with Jameis Winston and his impressions of the quarterback)
"It's been a lot. We've done a lot of off-the-field work in the offseason and that's all because of him. He wants to get better, he wants me to get better, he wants to get our connection down. That's everybody – he has all the receivers like that, all the tight ends. He's just the ultimate competitor. There's a 'true competitor,' which is also really good, but the ultimate competitors, they don't get any better than that and that's what Jameis is. He wants everyone around him to be great, and he's a great player. I feel like once you're around great players, you become great. That's what I think about him when I see him."
(On the best advice Winston has given him)
"Every day he just comes up to me and says, 'Let's go.' He doesn't say a lot, but he says, like, 'Hey, I expect you to make those plays.' He expects a lot out of me, and when he says it it kind of makes me say, 'Okay, let's go. I understand what you mean.' That's all he does and that's enough."
(On where he worked with Winston, Tampa or Alabama)
"We were here in Tampa. When I was back in Alabama, we were going to get together but I had my event going on and he also had an event, so we never could catch up."
(On seeing fans wearing his Buccaneers jersey)
"It's pretty sweet. You go back to your hometown and all the people have your jersey on, supporting you. And you've got different fans all over the country – I think it's definitely cool."
(On if he's happy with his Madden rating)
"Oh, man, I'm pretty excited about. I'm a Madden guy. That's a pretty good rating overall but some of the little attributes and stuff, I'm not as happy with that. But it's pretty cool overall."
(On if he studied NFL tight ends)
"Yeah, I do all the time. I started that mainly last year, studying guys, guys that are playing now and guys such as Tony Gonzalez and Jason Witten. Those are guys that, even as they got older, they were still really dominant as tight ends and that's because of their techniques and the way they ran their routes. The little things. I study guys like that to see what makes them stay in the game for so long."
(On the tight ends he admires)
"There are a lot of guys before my time who were really good, too, but personally I like Tony Gonzalez as my number one guy. [Kellen] Winslow, he's up there in my book, and I'd have to say Antonio Gates. Antonio Gates, in his prime he was really one of the top guys. And those are guys that I just can really remember from me watching growing up. But there were guys way before that. Ozzie Newsome, I knew how good he was at Alabama. There's a lot of tight ends out there."
(On what he thinks he does best)
"I would just say my ability to stretch the field, having speed and being able to outrun linebackers, being kind of big for safeties. I think that is a very attribute to have, and if you can do it consistently that's hard to stop at tight end."
(On what he's learned since turning pro)
"I would say just always doing the little things right as a pro, as far as studying the little details. The route-running, run-blocking in the run games – I think the little things can add up to be a positive or, vice versa, they can add up to be a big negative. I think the little things are the most important thing that I've noticed so far."
(On forging a connection with Winston)
"All of that. It's about ball placement. When we go down to the red zone, he wants to see how high I can jump to see how high he can put the ball. It's all kinds of things, [like] timing. There's a lot of detail to route-running. He needs to know when I'm going to break on certain routes."
(On what his mother told him before he left for training camp)
"Just hydrate, that's one thing. It's hot in Alabama too, but this weather here is different. It can sneak up on you a little bit. That's what she told me: Hydrate, have fun and compete."

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