Head Coach Dirk Koetter
Defensive Coordinator Mike Smith
HEAD COACH DIRK KOETTER
(On the fans at practice)
"Another good crowd today. These fans are doing a great job."
(On getting good two-minute drill work in)
"Yeah, [it was] the first day with officials, Ed Hochuli's crew is here this week. Just sort of by chance, some unbelievable situations came up today. You never know exactly how it's going to play it. That's one of the reasons we have the music so loud, like crowd noise. We handled a couple of them good, a couple of them not good, but [it was] awesome work, awesome work for us. We've been pointing out penalties in practice. A good example: That great catch [Chris] Godwin had at the end would've come back with a hold. That's the stuff when I'm telling them in a meeting they don't always believe me, so to see those yellow flags out here is just another thing to try to make it as game-like as you can."
(On how the placekickers fared on Monday)
"Not too good, not too good. It's one day on, one day off. Whatever they ate for breakfast today, off the menu, because that wasn't it."
(On if the games will carry more weight than practice in the kicker competition)
"That's a good question. The problem is, in games we don't have any control – we might go four weeks and not have any kicks come up. We'd like to make a decision sooner rather than later, but it's just hard right now. We've got to get better at that position. We've got to get better at every position but that's one of them."
(On if the kicker competition is as tight as it was at the beginning of camp)
"I don't know. It's kind of day-to-day. Neither one of them was very good today. I mean, it's a simple process. You're a kicker in the NFL – inside 50 yards you've got to make your kicks. I'm not being a hard-ass or anything, that's just what it is. That's what it is in this league. They know it, I know it, everyone here knows it. It is what it is."
(On if he would like to make the kicker decision sooner than the end of the preseason)
"There's no reason they should have to go all the way to the [cuts to] 53. If it does, it does, but we don't have to take it that long. We're looking for a guy to win the job."
(On big plays in practice by cornerback Brent Grimes)
"Oh man, Brent Grimes is good every day, but that play he made, knocking it away on the deep one, that was a fantastic play. That's another good learning situation because D-Jack [DeSean Jackson] had him beat, but Jameis hasn't had a guy that can run like that. If Jameis puts that out there another five yards, that's a touchdown. Brent Grimes was beat by a step and made a superhuman effort to knock it away. That's the kind of competition. There's two of our best players and that's what you're talking about when you're saying compete in practice to make each other better. That's making us better. Jameis is learning a lesson there."
(On rookie safety Justin Evans getting work with the first team)
"We're trying to even out the reps at some positions. We had a day off yesterday so the coaches, we could kind of see where we were at on the reps. We also want to get J.J. Wilcox and Justin Evans, instead of always working as a pair, rotating them in with Keith [Tandy] and/or Chris [Conte] so they can get the communication down. So we'll be doing that all this week."
(On tight end O.J. Howard)
"O.J. continues to make 'wow' plays every day and he also is doing a really good job blocking. That's the second time he's got stripped on the sideline in the two-minute drill. He's just got to learn that the guys in this league are really good at it. It's a learning process. We've seen him make so many great plays, when there's a play that maybe doesn't look like a great one, that he doesn't make, we expect him to make it. That's a good thing. That's a good problem to have."
(On if he needs to give fewer preseason snaps to quarterback Jameis Winston in this third season)
"I don't think so, no, because you're still installing. We're doing 12 installs before we go to Cincinnati. Even though he's getting a volume of plays they're different plays every day. That's the base, your training camp rep base. Some of that stuff we won't repeat until it comes up in a certain game plan."
(On younger players seeing veterans like Gerald McCoy and Brent Grimes work hard)
"It's huge. Your leaders set the tone. If you noticed, Gerald was held out today, it was a rest day for him, [and] Clinton McDonald showed up multiple times. I mean, he stepped right into game-wrecker mode. That shows we've got good competition, good depth on that defensive line."
(On what he looking for from first preseason game)
“Well, this is the game that typically everybody that is healthy is going to play. So you might find a couple guys that haven’t gotten as many reps that are down on the depth chart, they show up. No live tackling in practice, so that’s usually where guys show up. With live tackling and live blocking, they either show a little better or a little worse than you might of thought.”
(On if offensive tackle Caleb Benenoch absence from practice was scheduled)
“No, he was a little nicked up. It’s nothing serious, but we needed to keep him out today.”
(On quarterback Ryan Griffin)
“Griff is throwing the ball great, number one. He’s really throwing it smooth right now. In this first game, the ‘ones’ aren’t going to play a ton and so we’re going to give Fitz [Ryan Fitzpatrick] and Griff reps both with the ‘twos’ and ‘threes.’ But before it’s all over, we would like to get those other guys a series with the ‘ones’, with the first O-line. That would give them their best chance to show what they can do. But this game, Jameis [Winston] and the ‘one’ line are going to play the same amount.”
(On the team’s depth at wide receiver and who has stood out)
“Different days, all of them have their day. We had to hold Donteea Dye out today. Got a little bit of an ankle [injury], so we held him out. I thought Derel Walker showed up a few times today, [Chris] Godwin has shown up every day. All those guys, Josh Huff has had his moments, Freddie [Martino] has had his moments. D.D has had his moments. [Bernard] Reedy has had his moments. It’s tight, it’s tight for those last couple spots there.”
DEFENSIVE COORDINATOR MIKE SMITH
(On which side of the ball is winning through training camp thus far)
“I don’t think there is any true winners and losers when you’re not playing football. There are some plays being made on both sides of the ball, the competition has been really good. Some plays that look like it might be a defensive win really is an offensive win. Then there are some times where it looks like it’s an offensive win and it’s a defensive win. We’re just trying to coach them every play and get them to understand what we’re trying to get accomplished.”
(On defensive end Noah Spence)
“We think Noah has got a chance to be a ‘four-down’ player for us. We don’t feel like he’s just going to be a designated pass rusher. We’re going to be a rotational group up there with the defensive line. We want to make sure that we don’t play the guys as many snaps as we did last year. That was one of the things that we looked at, we felt like we have to do a better job of rotating the defensive line. But, Noah has progressed. He missed the offseason, but thus far through camp he’s done a really good job.”
(On the defense today compared to at this point last season)
“Well, they are making it a lot easier for all of us on the defensive side. We’ve got a better understanding. Last year at this time there were lots of times there were uncovered guys, holes that were not taken by second level players. I think we have a much better understanding of what we are trying to get done and to me, in year two you should be, so these guys should have a better understanding.”
(On how much communication on the field as improved from last season)
“I think we are light-years ahead from where we were last year. I think we’re even a pretty good amount ahead from where we were at the end of the season. That was one of the things I did a very poor job of last year in the first four or five games, not assessing what our guys didn’t know. Sometimes you look at it and whether they know you’ve really got to figure out what they don’t know and that allows you to maybe put a little tighter game plan together. We had some soul-searching last year after the Bye Week. I think our guys really came together after that point and they’ve continued through the offseason.”
(On if he will keep extra defensive linemen on the active roster to allow him to rotate defensive line as he would like)
“Those things are going to be decided by Dirk [Koetter] and Jason [Licht] in terms of what the roster is going to look like in terms of positions. We really feel that whether we have seven, eight, six [defensive linemen], it doesn’t really matter. We just have to do a better job on the percentages of who’s going to play and how many snaps they are going to play a game.”
(On the development of linebacker Kendell Beckwith)
“I’ve been very impressed with Kendell. Kendell is a young man that missed all of the offseason. He’s eight, nine months post-ACL [surgery]. Picks the defensive up very well, he’s a guy that one time you tell him and he seems to have it. It has gotten a little bit bigger as we’ve moved through camp when we get into practice eight, nine, 10, 11, and 12, our install gets a little bit more complex. But he’s big, he’s strong, and he can run. He’s a guy I’m expecting there’s going to be a place for him to get on the field. I can’t tell you how much or where, but he’s a guy I think is going to earn some time on the playing field.”
(On the tandem of linebackers Kwon Alexander and Lavonte David)
“These guys, they’re going on their third year working together. They have a good understanding of what each other is going to do and I think they are interchangeable. We call them the ‘Mike’ and the ‘Will’ based on the formation or based on the defense that we have. Sometimes, Kwon is the ‘Will’ and Lavonte is the ‘Mike.’ So they are interchangeable, they are run and hit guys. They have a good understanding and really they are the guys, they and Gerald [McCoy] and Robert [Ayers Jr.] are the guys that are going to be the leaders and the mentors up front. We got to have two or three [leaders] at each level and I think we are in good shape at the linebacker position.”
(On if there are players in camp that have elevated themselves from last season)
“Well again, it’s hard to say ‘elevated themselves’ because we really haven’t played football. There are some ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs’ that happen when we think a defensive player has made the play. If this was real football, probably wasn’t going to make it. Jameis [Winston] is going to make defensive linemen miss and extend plays. There’s going to be times when we’re tagging off, we think we’ve got them in the hole and the ‘back’ is going to make them miss. Until we get out and play a couple games we’re not going to really know where we are truly at.”
(On cornerback Brent Grimes)
“I say this, Brent physically has the physical traits of a very young man even though he’s north of 33, 34 years old. He’s special. He plays a lot bigger than he is, his measurables. He can jump out of the gym, he can contort his body, and he’s a physical football player. Brent I think is a guy that is going to play as long as he wants to play. Look at where he’s at right now, he doesn’t look like he’s on the backside of his career.”
(On if Grimes was one of the best defensive backs in the game last season)
“He had a great season, he had a lot of plays on the football. We’re hoping that he will continue that trend, that’s it’s going to continue to go upward. He has a great understanding of splits, he’s going to be a great mentor for Vernon Hargreaves and Ryan Smith. They get a lot of knowledge from him.”
(On if he saw a drop-off in the energy level of defensive tackle Gerald in fourth quarter)
“I don’t see a drop off in energy. Gerald is going to command double-teams whether it’s the first quarter or the fourth quarter.”
(On if there is an emphasis to rotate McCoy more during games this season)
“We would like to keep him fresher in terms of the number of snaps that he is going to play. But, it’s hard to sit there and say, ‘Gosh Gerald is on the sideline, let’s get him back out there.’ But we know long-term, maybe not in a specific game, [but] for the season it’s going to help us. Gerald is one of the most dominant defensive linemen in the NFL. Everybody knows where he’s going to be, you can’t hide him. If you try to move him from one side or the other, they’re going to identify him and they’re going to make sure that they are going to give as much resources that they possibly can to slow him down. He’s having a heck of a camp. He’s a special, special player and a man.”
(On the progression of rookie safety Justin Evans)
“We’re starting to get on a ‘pitch count’ with some of our older players, so we wanted to give some guys some rest and we definitely need to get Justin going. Justin, most of the reps he’s played is he’s played at free safety, he hasn’t had the ‘splash’ plays that everybody thinks they are going to have. But when you’re a deep safety, you’re hoping your deep safety is not having to make a bunch of plays. We’re going to start moving him around and he’s going to be cross-trained to play both the strong safety and the free safety. He’s been doing a nice job. Unfortunately for both he and [J.J.] Wilcox, they did not have the opportunity to spend a whole lot of time with us in the offseason and our OTAs.”
(On defensive tackle Chris Baker and McCoy on the field together)
“It’s going to be fun to watch those big men up front, they are going to demand resources. If they do, then we’re going to have second level players that are going to be able to make plays closer to the line of scrimmage. That’s what the design of the defense is supposed to do.”
(On if there are any younger players catching his attention during training camp)
“Javien [Elliot] stuck out when he got here. He was the guy that came in and was on our practice squad and ended up being on our roster mid-way through the season. I still think that Ryan Smith makes ‘flash’ plays and it’s something that we’re going to need Ryan to help us this year. It’s a 16-game season, depending on injuries probably the biggest competition that we have right now is at the ‘nickel’ position and Javien is right in the middle of it with two other players.”