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03 May 2018

Transcript: Tampa Bay Buccaneers Media Availability (5/3/18)

Below is a selection of Tampa Bay Buccaneers quotes from today’s earlier media availability:
 
Linebacker Lavonte David
Tight End O.J. Howard
Tackle Donovan Smith
 
LINEBACKER LAVONTE DAVID
 
(On if offseason additions to the defense make him feel more optimistic)
“I’m feeling great as always. We added a lot of new additions and things are going well so far, man. Everything looks good on paper. We just have to put it all together. Get the rookies in, the new draft class, the guys who are going to help us in a big way. Once those guys get in and we put it all together, things should be on the up and up.”
 
(On how much the rebuild of the defensive line helps the rest of the defense)
“It’s helps us out a lot. That’s the philosophy. You want your d-linemen to drop plays get up field and let your linebackers flow. That’ the way Coach [Mike] Smith wants it and I feel like those guys are going to get the job done.”
 
(On rookie defensive tackle Vita Vea’s size)
“I still haven’t seen him but the buzz around the locker room is that he’s s a big guy. So, that’s my anticipation right now just to see how big he is at first and then we’ll see how he does on the field.”
 
(On how critical it is to have big defensive linemen)
“I think it’s really big. With our division, you have a lot of teams that run that zone running scheme. So when you have a guy who can get up field and disrupt or a big guy who takes up two guys, it’s really smooth for line backers to flow and get down field to make the more TFLs (tackles for loss). So we’re looking forward to that. It’s all talk right now so we just have to put it together first.”
 
(On his personal priorities during the offseason)
“Just getting stronger. Throughout the year, my shoulders weren’t where I wanted them to be so that’s the main thing I’ve focused on this offseason. Just getting my shoulders back together where I can take a lot of banging or whatever. Right now I’m feeling awesome, I’m feeling great and I’m just looking forward to taking it one day at a time and getting better.”
 
(On what was wrong with his shoulders)
“It was all of the above [a strength, pain, stability issue]. I took it for what it was. I just couldn’t pinpoint exactly what it as but it just didn’t feel normal to me. So I just tried to get it back to where I wanted it to be.”
 
(On being teammates with defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul again)
“I played with Jason in junior college so I know what he’s bring it to the table back then and from what I see, nothing changed. I still kept up with him when he went to South Florida and then when he went to the Giants. So, nothing’s changed. Those long arms are going to help out tremendously for us too. His attitude comes in, wants to work, and his mindset, he always wants to dominate. So I know what I’m going to get out of him. As soon as it happened, he sent a text to me right away and told me, ‘I’m coming to join you, bro, and we’re back together.’ So, it was amazing to see that.”
 
(On linebacker Kendell Beckwith’s rehab after his ankle injury)
“All we’re trying to do is just keep him in spirits, keep him updated with what’s going on around here. We’re hoping he’ll get better and come back better than ever. It’s unfortunate what happened to him, but if you don’t know Kendall, Kendall’s a guy with a great spirit. He’s always laughing and always smiling. He wants to be out there with us. We always joke with him, you know we have to give him a hard time in every room. But, he’s in good spirits so he’s just taking it one day at a time and not rushing the process. He’s just trusting the process and trying to get out there and help us compete again.”
 
(On Beckwith’s presence during the offseason program)
“He’s back in the facility. He’s around, he’s rolling around in his little scooter. He’s in all of the meetings, special teams, defense. So, he’s participating. He’s keeping updated with everything.”
 
(On what feels different this offseason)
“Everything. It’s a lot of talking going on, good talking though. When we’re watching film, everybody, we watch film together, you hear the D-line talking, the LBss talking, the back end talking. Everybody is on the same page so that’s a real good thing. Coach is doing a good job of having people going up to the board and explaining things a different way and just making sure that everybody knows what they’re doing. That’s the first part of being accountable, making sure you know your job and the guys jobs around you. I think everything is going really good right now.”
 
(On the growth of Justin Evans)
“He’s one of those guys. When the safeties are talking, he’s out there, he’s on of the first and he’s recalling it because he’s out there and us linebackers, we demand it from him. So he knows what to expect. He’s doing a great job. He’s coming along well. All of us are still learning but we’re trying to learn on the go. We learn little things, just trying to pass our knowledge on to everybody else and just trying to improve and keep trying to get better.”
 
(On the linebacker depth)
“Oh man, I feel awesome about the guys. If you haven’t’ seen last year when me and Kwon were down some of those games and those guys, AT [Adarius Taylor], [Devante] Bond, he was a rookie, Riley [Bullough], Cameron Lynch, those guys stepped up in a big way. So, it all starts with our coaching. Coach Duffner does a great job making sure everybody understands. Then us as a group, holding each other accountable and making sure everybody learns as a starter would learn. So, most of those guys are really focused on special teams but when they get in a defensive meeting room, they learn just like everybody else learns. Like what happened last year, the next man could be up any time. So, that’s how we take it in our group.”
 
(On if his sense of urgency rises as he gets older)
“Oh yes, big time. If you see us out there going through drills and everything, we’re just trying to make sure everybody is on the same page and getting our bodies up, together and just demanding more out of guys. We’re trying to get our all out of guys and that’s what’s been going on so far. Our job right now is just to keep up and just bring everybody aboard.”
 
(On the team having something to prove this season)
“Of course. Expectations last year, that was supposed to be our year. We didn’t fulfill that so pressure is on us even more. Everybody is back talking down on us so we have a lot more to prove this year. There’s a sense of urgency, where we want to be and where we need to be. We need to just keep on picking it up.”
 
(On the Buccaneers defense being last in the league last season)
“It hurt. We met as a defense at the end of last season and obviously, Coach put our stats and stuff on the board and let us know that this is what we put out when we were out there on the field. All of the guys, we were hurt by that because the year before, we were better and then last year, like I said, the expectations were real high and we didn’t get the job done at all. So this year, that’s why the more urgency, the demand out of guy, is more now so we just want to keep that up because we do not want to be in that situation again. It was embarrassing, it was disappointing. It’s one place that we don’t want to be at again so we’re going to get that fixed asap.”
 
(On if he’s watched much film on rookie Jack Cichy)
“I have not. The first time I’ll see him is probably when he gets in for rookie mini-camp. I haven’t watched really much on him but from what I hear, he’s a great kid. Obviously he’s from the Big-Ten so he can play football. I’m just looking forward to getting him into the room. Hopefully he’ll fit in with all of the guys in our room and add to the depth and add to the playmakers that we’re trying to have.”
 
(On Pierre-Paul’s athletic ability)
“He was unblockable in junior college. I played behind him too, so he always went to the close side and me and him basically went behind each other all the time. One of the most amazing things is how long his arms were, how he just bullied the offensive tackle and just reached out and got the quarterback sacked just like that. His work ethic, he’s an athletic guy, a big athletic guy. When we were in JuCo, he used to run with the linebackers and everything. I just know that Jason is going to bring it every play and if he doesn’t, I’ll bring it out of him, I know how to. I just expect big things out of him.”
 
(On the most ‘absurd’ thing he ever saw Pierre-Paul do on the field)
“I can’t really remember but the most absurd thing I’ve seen is when he did all of those backflips. I saw it in person. In junior college, we had a little bet going on and then he did like 25 backflips in a row and I was just amazed by it. I’ve never seen anything like it. It was my first time seeing a guy just do 20-something backflips in a row like that. It was just crazy when I saw it. So, I knew he was special after I saw that.”
 
(On Pierre Paul’s ability to adapt his play after the injury to his hand)
“That just goes to show how talented is and how he evolved and adapted to an unfortunate circumstance that happened to him. He’s just learning how to adapt to it and learning to play with it and still be the dominant player that he is just because of his athletic ability and his mindset, his attitude. I’m sure he’s going to bring that same thing here.”
 
TIGHT END O.J. HOWARD
 
(On ending the season on Injured Reserve and his progress since)
“It went well. The rehab process was good. Our training staff did a good job helping me recover. I haven’t had any problems with it, so it’s been going well.”
 
(On whether he is full-go for practice)
“Yeah, I am.”
 
(On his goals this offseason)
“Just a lot of areas in the run game for sure, I would say. As far as just hand placement, a lot of technique. As far as the passing game, just taking it to the next level as far as route running when I get to the second level of routes, so that was some of my main focus this offseason.”
 
(On his experience going against corner Carleton Davis in college)
“My most recent memory of him is when he played against Alabama this season. He did a really good job. He is physical, he likes to tackle, so that is what our team wants and needed, so I am looking forward to getting to meet him.”
 
(On the ‘vibe’ of the team headed into offseason workouts)
“The same vibe. Everyone since day one has always been the same guys, nice guys, down to earth. So, as far as the work ethic on the field, it’s amazing. Everybody knows what our goal is this year, so we want to turn it around from last season, so we are all excited about being back in the building to get to work.”
 
(On looking back at his transition into the NFL)
“It was a little more challenging as far as you have to do a better job of just paying attention to detail in the film room. That is the biggest takeaway and just applying it to the field. Now going into my second year, I understand that a lot more. I look at things differently now when I take notes, so that is definitely going to help out a lot when the season comes around and I am already seeing improvements in the offseason.”
 
(On whether film study is his biggest advice to rookies coming in)
“Yeah, absolutely. I would say whenever you get a chance to study film, you always want to do it. One of my friends told me on the team, ‘Man, we already know we are playing the Saints. If you want to get a head start, you could.’ So, it’s just those little details about the film room that takes you a long way when the game comes around.”
 
(On his thoughts on Offensive Coordinator Todd Monken’s expanded role)
“Coach Monk is a coach that brings the intensity. He doesn’t care who the player is. He treates everyone the same and he has that fire about himself, so just looking forward to seeing what he can do with the offensive playsheet in his hands.”
 
(On improving red-zone issues from last season)
“It’s good you said that. Coach Koetter goes over that the first week of Phase One. He put it up. It all comes down to us executing. The play calls are there, the defense is in the right defenses, we just have to execute when it is called. As far as that, that’s all it is. We are like five plays away from being in the top 10 of the red-zone offense and eight of those 10 teams made the playoffs. So, that’s how close we were to making the playoffs. We just have to execute and finish a couple more plays in the red-zone.”
 
(On whether red-zone efficiency has been emphasized more this offseason)
“Absolutely. Everybody understands it and we are buying into it.”
 
(On whether he was able to have some down time this offseason)
“Yeah man, absolutely. It definitely slows down after that first year. It’s such a long process just coming into all that and jumping right into rookie mini-camp, but this year, it has slowed down a little bit. This has been the first time since maybe pee-wee or middle school football, to be honest.”
 
(On whether he feels a difference in his body after having time off)
“Absolutely. Just being able to take off the month of January and just sit back a little bit, get away from football, take a few vacations or whatever, it’s a totally different feeling. So, I have definitely seen improvement in my body from that.”
 
(On playing against defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul last season)
“Definitely an elite pass-rusher. He looks forward to getting to the quarterback and making plays on third-down. I remember during the pre-prep of the game, he was one of the stars to watch out for. Being able to go up against him, he is a very good athlete. I’m just glad he’s on our team now.”
 
(On whether Pierre-Paul was the offensive focus going into the Giants game last year)
“Yeah, he was one of the guys - him and of course the safety, Landon Collins that week - and he has every right to be the main focus. He gets to the quarterback, he plays hard, so you’ve just go to turn your attention to him when he is on the field.”
 
(On advice to incoming rookies)
“I would just say, ‘Don’t come in and feel like you’ve got to do a lot. Everyone on the team knows what their job is. Everyone here is going to be behind you 100 percent of the way and don’t be afraid to make mistakes because we all do. So, we are all learning. Just get better every day and don’t make the same mistakes twice.’”
 
(On whether he believes there will be carryover from beating the Saints in Week 17 of 2017)
“That was probably the most exciting play of the year for us. Just that last drive and scoring with so many seconds left with one of the best teams in the NFL, that’s definitely going to carry over. [Wide receiver] Chris [Godwin] is a great player and I am looking forward to seeing what he can do next year.”
 
(On improving yards after catch this year)
“Whenever you get the ball, everyone looks to score, so yards after catch are very important, making the first guy miss, just trying to do something exciting with the ball. That is what keeps the offense flowing smooth, explosive plays and scoring touchdowns.”
 
(On tight end Cameron Brate’s new contract)
“I am excited for him. Cameron was an undrafted guy, so when you get to see a guy that came from undrafted to finally getting a contract and be able to be set financially forever, it’s a blessing, so I am very excited for Cam. He has been nothing but helpful to me since I’ve been here, so it’s only right that I be excited for him. We did a great job last year playing together and making plays, so I am looking forward to it this season.”
 
(On his offseason)
“Just spending time with my family. Going back to Alabama, having cookouts, enjoying the ice cream, things like that, just simple things. Those are the moments that you take for granted sometimes when you are away from the family for a while, but when you get to do it, it’s so relaxing.”
 
TACKLE DONOVAN SMITH
 
(On his upcoming charity event in partnership with Autism Speaks)
“Good afternoon. May 7th, I have a bowling event for autism. All proceeds are going to Autism Speaks. Seventy-five [dollars] to bowl, 50 to spectate. I’m raffling away a game-worn signed jersey by me. A bunch of my teammates are going to be there. Gerald McCoy, Jameis Winston, Kwon Alexander, Lavonte David, Ali Marpet. It’s going to be a fun event. Fresh Kitchen and Green Lemon are supplying the food so it’s going to be fun.”
 
(On his nephew who has autism)
“My nephew Aiden, he’s nine, he’s on the spectrum and has autism. So I just made it my point this year to get involved in the community as much as I can.”
 
(On the Autism Speaks walk held last week)
“It was huge. Ali [Marpet] and Leonard [Wester] took their time on a Saturday morning to come out and walk with me and my family. It meant a lot. I shot them a nice text after and let them know how much it meant to me for them to come out and sacrifice their time and spend it with me and my family. So, that’s just what our team-that’s the type of teammates I have. It’s pretty cool.”
 
(On how his family deals with his nephew’s autism)
“It varies. Like you said, you just don’t know where on the spectrum a kid may land, so it just varies by family. My nephew has non-verbal so we just have to use sign language and different communication things to get through to him. [He signs] ‘Eat eat.’ We know those things and every time he wants his iPad and stuff like that. So it’s really just adapting and adjusting to the child.”
 
(On the offseason program)
“It’s a lot of energy, great energy out there. Actually I was talking to Ali while we were out there and you can just feel the difference this year. A lot of guys, they have that spark. So, like I said, we’re out there working, running drills, conditioning and stuff so as a team, we’re just here. We’re getting better, pushing each other to be great and holding each other accountable on things.”
 
(On addition of center Ryan Jensen)
“Oh, it’s great. Any time you get experience like that, a mean streak like him to come into the room and contribute, is huge. To be able to take all of that experience and tie that together with what we have already, the sky is the limit for us.”
 
(On Ali Marpet’s move to left guard)
“That’s big. When I heard that, I texted Ali and said, ‘You could have told me that before I had to find out through the media [laughs].’ It was good. We worked together at the Senior Bowl, left tackle, left guard. It’s really just getting a feel for each other. Obviously Ali is a great player and any time you get him next to a guy, it’s going to make us better. He played at a high level at right guard and a high level at center and he’s going to play at a high level at left guard if that’s how it works out. He’s a great guy. He’s a competitor.”
 
(On rookie running back Ronald Jones)
“From what I see, he’s a good guy with a lot of speed. He runs the pile in confidence which we all like. He can hit the hole. But, we’ll see when that comes.”
 
(On going against the overhauled defensive line in practice)
“It’s great. It’s not going to do anything but make us better as a unit. Any time you pair that defensive line, from top to bottom, Vinny Curry, Noah Spence, Vita Vea, Beau Allen, Gerald McCoy, it’s ‘The Monstars’ over there. It’s really just going to make us compete and be better as an O-Line because I don’t think any offensive line is going to go against as great as a defensive line as we are day in and day out. It’s going to make us better.”
 
(On if it was difficult to play on an offensive line that frequently rotated personnel)
“It wasn’t difficult at all. I’ve had snaps with Evan, I’ve had snaps with Kevin so they knew how I played, I knew how they played. It was just that tap on the shoulder, ‘Hey, I’m in.’ It’s kind of just triggered you, you knew how to do things. Like you said, we worked through it all throughout practice and training camp and stuff. Preparation factor, when you prepare for it, you don’t really have to adjust to anything. There’s really no difference. So, between those two coming in there, in terms of difficulty, no.”
 
(On the importance of having strong offensive and defensive lines)
“A football team thrives off of the offensive line. Without the offensive line, defensive line, there’s really no football, it’s 7-on-7. You have to have those guys up front, big, mean, tenacious guys who are going to push each other and take lead and change of the team because, like I said, there’s four to five of us on the field at a time. It’s almost a must to have a great defensive line, offensive line to - accountability, mental toughness, discipline, all of those good things, to tie them together. So, that’s what we have from top to bottom on both sides.”
 
(On the team not receiving as much attention in the media as last season)
“It is what it is. You control what you can control. Under the radar, on the radar, whatever you want to call it. In the box, out of the box, it doesn’t matter. We still have a job to do. We still have things as a team that we have to hold each other accountable for and go out there and perform and compete and produce. It doesn’t matter where on the radar we are.”
 
(On his best advice to rookies)
“Hydrate. Don’t let it get too big for you. A lot of guys come in, even myself, and it’s like, ‘Oh man, everything is moving so fast,’ and there’s all of these ‘what-if’ factors. Just go out there and do what you’ve been doing all of your life, play football. Get things corrected after and then go from there. Don’t make it too big, too small. Just go out there and compete.”
 
(On a scouting report of  new teammate Jason Pierre-Paul)
“Why would I give you the scouting report on my teammate [laughs]? Y’all see what he does. He puts pressure on quarterbacks. He’s a great pass rusher. He’s been doing it for years. [Laughs] I’m not going to give you the scouting report so y’all can put it out there. But, he’s a great pass rusher. He’s going to get there.”
 
(On what he likes about Pierre-Paul)
“His size. I like how you [reporters] are trying to force me into answering [the question]. I get it [laughs]. His size, his length. He could go power, he could go speed and finesse. He has the total package.”
 
(On Pierre-Paul leading the NFL in number of snaps played last season)
“That’s big. That’s based on mental toughness. A lot of guys, they have that motor where sometimes they need those two or three snaps to catch it back. Any time you can have that endless relentlessness and keep going, it’s nothing but a plus. For him to bring that on out here and compete and keep those snaps going, it’s only going to work for us.”
 
(On the need for team resiliency)
“We have to [be resilient]. You never know what’s going to be thrown at you day in and day out, game in and game out. You just have to be able to overcome it and fight through it. You have to be able to adapt, adjust and make sure you stay on your ‘P’s and Q’s’ when you go through those things. So to be able to overcome those things and keep competing at a high level is huge.”
 
(On becoming a top-level offensive tackle)
“I’m real close. Obviously, [I’m in] year four. Experience is the best teacher. A lot of guys sometimes take longer than others and sometimes take shorter than others. So, I’m right there and it’s up to me to decide really. I’m right there, I’m pushing forward to be top-three, top-two, number one tackle in the league. So, you know, it’s all up to me.”
 
(On if he’s ever come close to missing a game)
“No. They kind of make fun of me. I really don’t have a routine. A lot of guys, they have the cold tub, hot tub, massage this, massage that. Me, any time I get off my feet and lay down, that’s how I get my rest and what not. I throw in a Normatec [treatment] here and there to get game ready but the best recovery is sleep and rest. So, that’s all I do. I normally come home, take a nap and I’m back in bed by eight or nine o’clock.”
 
(On his reliability and consistency)
“That’s the thing. You have to be able to be durable and reliable. It makes everybody’s job easier when your left tackle, your quarterback, whoever, you don’t have to worry about them missing games regardless of how hurt they are or whatever they’re going through off the field. You know they’re going to be there. So, to be able to ease it up that way is just huge. It’s something I take pride in.”
 
(On how offensive line coach George Warhop handles the rookies)
“It’s our room so it’s how we handle them. Taco Tuesday is on him. Third round pick, you’re good, you’ve got it [laughs]. You just welcome him with open arms and make sure you guide them and give them a shoulder to lean on. Like I said, coming into the League, a lot of people make it bigger than what it is and just to be able to be that ear to bounce ideas off of or someone to come to and just talk to, whether you’re feeling down or overwhelmed or whatever it may be. But, just know it’s a brotherhood and we’re going to have fun doing it and it’s going to be a good time.”
 
(On how often he sees injured teammates J.R. Sweezy and Demar Dotson)
“All the time. They’re in meetings, they’re in their rehab. Any time we see Dot and Sweeze, they’re right there, no matter what they’re doing even if they’re not there on the field with us. We always interact. We actually just had a cookout at Sweezy’s house last week so we’re doing things there.”
 
(On if he brought food to J. R. Sweezy’s cookout)
“Of course, my mom cooked lasagna. That pan went fast. It was real good. It was a good time. The O-line was there. It was a good time.”
 
-BUCCANEERS-

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