HEAD COACH DIRK KOETTER
(On if the process of trimming the roster has begun)
"It has. There will be a release later this afternoon on a handful of guys, with the rest coming tomorrow."
(On if he had a tough night thinking about roster decisions)
"It's difficult because we're still wrestling with a couple decisions that have to be made, and you also know what's waiting for you. Like we talked about last night, you know that you're saying goodbye to 37 guys over today and tomorrow, which is not fun."
(On the Buccaneers' roster being fairly healthy)
"I think we're in decent shape. That's the goal, to get to that first game healthy. I think there's plenty of teams that are worse off than us."
(On if it's possible that defensive end Jacquies Smith starts the season on the 53-man roster)
"It's a possibility, yep."
(On if defensive tackle Stevie Tu'ikolovatu sat out Thursday's game due to injury)
"He did, yep. Stevie was held out due to injury last night."
(On if any players were able to elevate themselves in Thursday's game)
"Yeah, definitely. I think those three linebackers we talked about last night [Kendell Beckwith, Adarius Glanton and Cameron Lynch] all did above and beyond the call of duty. I thought those two D-Linemen [Mehdi Abdesmad and Hendrick Ekpe] that we picked up and were here for less than a week – just because of our situation at D-Line – I thought those guys went in and did a good job. Bobo Wilson finally got to touch the football and I thought he showed well for himself, as well."
(On how likely it is that somebody not currently on the roster will end up on the 53-man roster)
"Oh boy, that's – I have no idea on that. That would depend totally on what's out there and what our needs are. Just because a guy's out there doesn't mean we can get them. There's other teams, there are a lot of factors that go into that. I don't have a good feel for that at all."
(On what positions are difficult to reduce due to the amount of talent there)
"Well, they're all hard, they're all hard. I would say tight end and linebacker would be the first two that come to mind, but all of them are hard."
(On if the team could keep five tight ends)
"The way I look at it is, on gameday, your tight ends, wide receivers and running backs have to add up to 12. That's how I look at it. Then you have to think about it as, injuries, what if somebody gets hurt, who's going to take their place? Might you have a guy on practice squad that could step up the next week if a guy was hurt? That's just how I look at it, how it has to add up on game day."
(On how tight end Antony Auclair has done on special teams)
"He's doing okay. That's an adjustment for him, but he's got the right body type and the right mindset for it."
(On how fullback Austin Johnson has done on special teams and on offense)
"Both, he's done fine. Again, it's just tough competition. We group our tight ends and our fullbacks in the same category and those guys have to cross-train. Tight ends and fullbacks for us is really three positions for us: in-line tight end, if you want to call it H-Back or a move tight end and a traditional fullback. All those guys have to cross-train."
(On if the team could go lighter at running back given Doug Martin's return after three weeks)
"We've been saying all along that the Doug situation is fluid and will continue to be for three more weeks. That's one of the options that also comes into play."
(On the play of running back Jeremy McNichols on Thursday)
"It was great for him to get 10 carries. We were carrying seven halfbacks for most of camp, so to get 10 in a game [is helpful.] I thought Peyton [Barber] started out strong, and it was good to see Jeremy get his 10 and he also got some time on special teams. We got to see him more in protection. I feel like last night was a great opportunity to get a true evaluation of where Jeremy is right now."
(On wide receiver Donteea Dye)
"That's another thing you've got to take into consideration. Donteea missed two-and-a-half weeks, so when he came back to practice these last few days he looked fast. He had fresh legs where Freddie Martino, for example, took about a zillion reps in training camp. Any time guys are held out, somebody else has to pick up the load and I think Freddie wore down a little bit as camp wore on, where D.D. looked a lot fresher at the end. I used those two guys one, because you asked about D.D., and two, just because those are two guys that have been around us here for the last couple years. They’re guys that have gone in and contributed for us at different times but this year they're in a battle."
(On if wide receiver Adam Humphries' injury would force the team to look in another direction on punt return)
"No, the injury doesn't, no. Adam's going to be fine."
(On wide receiver Bernard Reedy)
"I think he had a real consistent camp. Bernard is a situational player. Obviously by his stature, he's not your traditional X receiver that's going to go out there and go against a team's best corner in press-man all day. But in the things that he's asked to do, I think Bernard's done a good job."
(On what the fifth receiver needs to be able to do)
"That fifth receiver has to have some kind of a significant role on special teams. And then, in a perfect world, they can play multiple spots on offense. If they can't play multiple spots on offense, then out of your three and four receivers, they have to be able to. Some combination of that."
(On if he thinks some of the players the Bucs cut will end up on other active rosters)
"That is the thing that we go round-and-round about upstairs. I think the percentages say it's an extremely low percentage of guys that get claimed. And now that you took 15 times 32 guys out of it, it's just a huge number hitting all in one day. You go from not much available on the street to just bombarded, and then 320 are going to sign back somewhere on practice squad. It's a very interesting 48 hours here that we're in."
(On why the team cut a few players today but will be making the rest of the cuts tomorrow)
“In some cases it’s to give guys a little bit of an extra chance – maybe they’re a veteran guy. You’re hoping that it helps them in some way, but there is really no way to tell because we have no idea what the 31 other teams are thinking.”
(On how he feels about the depth in his team’s pass rush)
“Well, I don’t think we are probably where we need to be, but I don’t think we’ve played with a full, healthy deck of cards for a whole game yet, so I think that’s probably still evolving and that’s something that is going to have to be a work in progress here. Hopefully we can stay injury-free as we do get into the regular season.”
(On if there is a lack of depth at certain positions on the roster)
“Oh, sure. I mean, I’m not going to share those with you, but of course there is. When I say we have more depth, that doesn’t apply to every position. Sometimes more depth can be a detriment because you have too many at one position and not enough at another and you’re saying, ‘Man, I wish we could snap our fingers and magically turn this guy into that guy.’”
(On what gives him confidence in quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick)
“Calm under pressure – Ryan is a very calm-under-pressure guy. I know he comes across as sort of soft-spoken, but Ryan, we’ve competed against him several times over the years – shoot he single-handedly beat us one year when I was coaching in Jacksonville. He’s a fiery competitor. I think he’s the type of guy that players want to play for when he’s in the game. With that said, I hope he’s not in the game [laughs].”
(On how he feels about the make-up of his team)
“I feel great about our team. But, you just look at our team last year – we were teetering at one point and I felt good about them then. The bottom line is they, the players, had to pull us out of it. The coaches have a very small part in that. That comes from inside the players themselves. Going back all 30-something years I’ve ever coached, every team – no matter how many guys you have coming back – their personality changes a little bit from year to year. There’s a few dynasty teams out there that I think are exceptions to that, but those teams withstanding – we just don’t know [about] this team. You’re adding pieces, drafting guys, you think you are putting the right guys in the right spots, but there are a lot of inner-workings in that locker room that you’re just not sure of. Of course, everyone wants to get off to a fast start. I mean, 32 teams are 0-0 thinking they’re going to the Super Bowl right now, regardless of what happened in the preseason. Half of the teams are going to be 0-1 next week. Then you move on. Then the articles are, ‘Okay, after an 0-1 start here are your percentages of making the playoffs.’ It’s always coming up. That is going to be everyone’s article in 16 losing cities next week. Then if you lose two in a row it’s going to be, ‘Oh, here are your percentages.’ You can’t play them before they get here. So, we’ve done a lot of talking and it’s time to play. I’m excited to see what we have. I’m excited to see our best 53 guys compete for 60 minutes down in Miami.”
(On having a loose guy like defensive tackle Chris Baker on your roster)
“I believe in guys being loose, as long as they show up on Sunday and compete. When we looked at Chris’ film last year – I didn’t know much about his personality – we saw a guy that was a good football player on Sundays. I don’t mind guys with personality. Robert Ayers brought a different personality when he came. DeSean Jackson brings a different personality. O.J. [Howard] brings a different personality. We have some big personalities already [and] we have some other guys that are content to lay in the background and do their job. That’s every team. How it meshes together – we’re going to start finding out.”
(On how comfortable he is with cornerback Robert McClain playing in the nickel-corner spot as well as on the outside)
“Comfortable. I have been around Robert for a long time. He played for us in Atlanta and then, of course, we played against him in Carolina here last year. Robert is going to give you what he has. He’s going to try to do everything right and wherever you put him, he is going to try to do the right thing.”
(On the performance of cornerback Ryan Smith against Washington)
“Ryan still continues to improve. I think he’s still playing a little cautious at times, especially on third down. But, we wanted to get him a bunch of reps and we did and he is going to settle in primarily as the third outside corner role for now and we will see how it progresses from there.”
(On if safety J.J. Wilcox flew under the radar during camp)
“The thing with J.J. is just coming off the injury where he missed OTAs, I think him and Justin Evans still – we gave them a lot of reps, they’re making up for lost time, they’re both new in the system, where Keith [Tandy] and Chris [Conte] are veterans in the system [and] have a year under their belt. I just think there’s a lot of adjustments, a lot of checks, a lot of formation adjustments that we do on defense that they’re still getting used to. It’s a different style for him. I think J.J. has done fine. Safety is a position – we played, for the most part, the whole season last year with three safeties and right now we feel like we have four guys that can go in there and play for us.”
(On what he has seen from offensive lineman Caleb Benenoch throughout the preseason)
“Caleb is another guy that over his two years here, he has missed a lot of time here due to injuries. They’re all legit – everything he’s had, has just been unfortunate. I think Caleb has improved a ton. He has gotten bigger and stronger, especially in the run game. His run blocking has come a long, long way. Now, we’ve got to get Caleb to cut his penalties down. He’s wiping us out with his penalties. I wish he had more time to play – he’s going to be in a backup role here to start the season. But, we needed Caleb to come in and play for us last year and when he did, he did alright.”
(On if the plan is to still use him inside or outside on the offensive line)