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11 May 2018

Transcript: Tampa Bay Buccaneers Rookie Mini-Camp Media Availability (5/11/18)

Below is a selection of Tampa Bay Buccaneers quotes from today’s earlier media availability:
Head Coach Dirk Koetter
Defensive Tackle Vita Vea
Running Back Ronald Jones
(Opening statement)
“Well, one [day] down, two to go for rookie minicamp.”
(On what rookie minicamp is all about)
“Well, you have a mixture of guys out here. I think we have six guys who are already on our roster, you’ve got our eight draft picks, you’ve got your undrafted guys that we signed and we have some tryout guys and we’ve also got three guys that were in the league last year on other teams. So, at the end of the weekend, you’re just trying to finish up with the best 90-man roster that you can have because these guys are going to stay here and work with us for five more weeks of OTAs. Every year, we’ve found a couple guys here that we didn’t know about coming in and we may make some roster moves at the end of the weekend just to try to get that best 90 moving forward.”
(On whether rookie minicamp is more for the players not already on the roster versus the draft picks)
“Yeah, both. Get your draft picks kicked off and headed in the right direction, but also to try to find – there are so many good football players out there. Just look at the roster from schools you have never heard of and some of these guys just need a chance. That’s how we found [wide receiver] Adam Humphries, not from a small school, but was a guy that was somewhat overlooked.”
(On initial impression of running back Ronald Jones II)
“Ronald is what we thought. You can see that the guy has juice. I’m sure everybody out here saw that when he touches the ball, he’s got a gear that we don’t have on our team right now. That doesn’t mean he doesn’t have a lot to learn, but you can definitely see – you can see that from his USC tape, but it’s great to see him out here and see him in our colors.”
(On Jones in the classroom)
“It’s too early to say that. All running backs coming into the NFL have work to do mostly in protection. Most colleges don’t have a whole lot that they ask these guys to do protection-wise, but he is going to do fine. He will get it.”
(On Jones’s hands)
“He caught the ball good today. We’ll have to see how it goes overall. He did a good job of the way that they asked him to. They threw him screens and checkdowns, so we’ll just have to see. Again, it’s one practice.”
(On defensive line coach Brentson Buckner’s attention to defensive tackle Vita Vea in practice today)
“Well, first-round draft picks usually do get a lot of attention and a lot of instruction, so we have high hopes for Vita and high expectations like he has for himself, so that’s typical. A first-round draft pick is going to get coached up pretty hard.”
(On Vea’s size)
“He’s a big boy.”
(On Warren Sapp’s comments earlier this week that 350-pound football players are unable to exist in Florida because of the heat)
“No, I don’t think about it. If we thought it was a thing, we wouldn’t have picked him. Again, everybody is entitled to their own opinion and Warren definitely is a guy that’s proved what it takes to play in this league, but we did our homework on that sort of thing and everybody’s got an opinion on it. We’ll see.”
(On whether he has seen any overlooked players so far today that he thinks may have a chance)
“There are. I don’t really want to say who they are yet, but there are definitely guys that catch your eye and we’ll go in and look at the tape and go through two more practices. [General Manager] Jason [Licht] has all his guys out here and they are studying up and they will be making some decisions here come Sunday.”
(On cornerback Carlton Davis III)
“I didn’t really get a chance to watch him much today, so I’ll see, that’s a guy that I’ll see on the tape. The thing obviously, you guys already know this is just his size and the fact that he’s a press corner, he’s a hold you up at the line guy. We knew that off the tape. I didn’t really get a chance to look at him too much today.”
(On how an explosive running back can change a team’s offense like Alvin Kamara did for New Orleans last year)
“Let’s not forget now, [New Orleans running back Alvin] Kamara, every team passed on him three times. All those guys, any player, you used the word explosive. If you’re an explosive player, yeah, you are going to help the team. Every team is looking to increase their explosives, so it was a good group of running backs in the draft and we thought that Ronald was an explosive guy that would be a nice complement to [running back] Peyton [Barber], be a compliment to the guy we’ve got. Again, it’s one day, let’s let it play out here.”
(Opening statement)
“It was pretty good today. We had some cloud cover. I was telling everyone I brought Seattle with me, so hopefully it’s here for a while.”
(On his first impressions of Defensive Line Coach Brentson Buckner)
“He’s a great guy. He’s definitely pushing us to our limits and that’s what you need at this level, someone to push you to get better and better every day.”
(On University of Washington Head Coach Chris Petersen)
“Coach Pete always told us to compete in everything we do and just that alone helped us a lot, helped me a lot coming here and getting on the practice field and competing.”
(On how important hand usage is for a defensive lineman)
“Being a defensive lineman, or a lineman in general, you have to use your hands and in this sport alone. There was always that coach that said, ‘If you’re not going to use your hands, you might as well just cut them off,’ because you need them to make the tackles, get off blocks and stuff like that.”
(On how comfortable he is using his hands)
“I feel like I’m there. There’s definitely a lot of space to improve so Coach Buckner is helping us with that and helping us improve. I’ve been getting better at that.”
(On his stamina in the Florida heat)
“It’s kind of hard to tell right now. We’re just in helmets, not in full pads, so it’s kind of hard to tell where I am with that.”
(On what he considers the most important part of rookie camp)
“Definitely getting better, learning the playbook so that when the veterans come in, you’re not behind and you can continue to work and get better.
(On Coach Buckner’s ability to push his players)
“That’s going to help a lot. You always need someone like that to push you. You don’t want someone to be your friend out there on the field. You want someone to be there pushing you and [you want to be] tired and getting better every day.”
(On if he expected Coach Buckner to be pushing him so hard on the field)
“Definitely. He told us that we were going to go out there and go straight to work. So, we knew what we were getting into today and he just told us to get up early tomorrow for practice.”
(On what sticks out in his mind about Coach Buckner’s coaching today)
“One thing is that as a lineman, know where you’re going to go and know your alignment. Because if you miss align then you’re already wrong and stuff like that. [I was] just learning the front and learning the different techniques.”
(On what he wants to buy with his first NFL paycheck)
“I haven’t really thought about that yet. I don’t really know. [I will] probably do something special for my parents.”
(On if he is going to buy his parents a house)
“Definitely, I’m still talking to them about it, working everything out. I haven’t really figured something out yet so we’re just going with the flow.”
(On rookie running back Ronald Jones II who he played against in college)
“He brings it all. He’s a great running back. He brings speed and he can also run through you, so I feel like he has the whole package.”
(On Jones’ quickness today in practice)
“He was over there running, a really shifty guy. He’s going to definitely be a great guy, a great fit for our team.”
(On his move after the bull rush)
“I’m going to keep that a secret.”
(On how different the defensive scheme is compared to Washington)
“It’s definitely a lot different. He’s improving our game, making us get better with that and he’s showing us the actual technique that should be used in the NFL, what we have to do to be the best.”
(On if he’s spoken to Gerald McCoy)
“He was actually here today. I saw him face-to-face earlier, talked to him a little bit, small talk.”
(On where he wants to play on the defensive line)
“It’s wherever they want me. I’m willing to do what they want me to do so I’m looking forward to that.”
(On if the rookies have built comradery on day one)
“Definitely with the guys in the D-line room. We were in the locker room and we’re at training table studying together and building that small bond from the start. Some guys, at the hotel, we’ll see them, grab a snack, chop it up with them.”
(On experiencing his welcome to the NFL with the other rookies)
“It’s definitely different. We’ve been away from it for so long. We have been away from college. The last time we were in the locker room was at our bowl game, for some guys, Senior Bowl, and we’re coming back into it. It’s a fresh start for us and I’m looking forward to that.”
(On if he’s explored Tampa)
“Not really. I’m just trying to stay focused. I have a lot to learn and am doing a lot of studying. Once I get that down, I may go out and check out Tampa.”
(On if the coaches want him to maintain his 347-pound weight)
“We haven’t really talked about it a bunch. [The team wants me] definitely around that weight because I played in college with that weight. So, definitely we’ll see how it goes from here and as camp goes along.”
(On his impressions of his first day in a Buccaneers uniform)
"Oh yeah, I mean it's great. It's a blessing to be here, so I'm just trying to show the coaches a little something-something."
(On what he's hoping to get out of the weekend)
"Just taking the install one step at a time, just trying to learn the offense, get a feel for everything and the other rookies around me."
(On comparing the Buccaneers' playbook to the one he had at USC)
"It's a lot bigger. We put in a lot of plays for Day One. At SC, we were going two or three plays at a time. It's definitely more fast-paced but that's what we expected, so it's good."
(On the key to getting more carries and playing time)
"I think the key is, again, just showing the coaches that I can learn quick, adjust on the fly and just make plays when I get the opportunity."
(On if he's hoping to be more involved in the passing game in the NFL than he was at USC)
"Most definitely. Just being a complete back, catching out of the backfield. [I'm] just working on that, progressing, making my game overall better."
(On if he looks forward to catching more passes)
"Oh, most definitely, yeah, because as a running back you're not always going to be in space. If you're out there on the perimeter you get a lot more opportunities to take it to the house. [It's] just being an all-around back."
(On where he is at with his pass protection)
"I think right now I'm just still identifying [it] based on the schemes that we're running and things like that. Once we put the pads on we'll really see, but I think right now I'm doing pretty well."
(On how much pass protection he did at USC)
"We did a fair amount. We had a of six-man, seven-man slide protections. [I'm] just learning the signals and how we call it here."
(On how it felt to walking out on an NFL practice field for the first time)
"It was great. As sun as I walked out, the sun, the humidity hit me like everybody said it would. But it's everything that I've asked for. I'm extremely blessed to be here and I'm just ready to make the most of it."
(On the tradition at USC of running backs taking each carry 40 yards in practice)
"Most definitely, yeah. My coaches T-Rob (Tommie Robinson) and Deland McCullough, they always make us finish. I'm just trying to translate that out here."
(On carrying the ball high and tight)
"Like my pop said, 'You've always got to hold onto the baby. Without the baby, you can't do nothing.' So, yeah, you've got to hold onto the baby."
(On if he was part of the group of players that Jameis Winston welcomed at the door on Friday)
"No. I haven't met him yet but I'm looking forward to it. I've seen O.J. [Howard] out there, but I haven't met Jameis yet."
(On how impactful he thinks the Bucs' rookie class can be)
"I think it can be great. We had three second-round picks. Obviously Vita [Vea], I played against him. We just addressed positions that we needed, that the staff thought we needed. We're all going to come in and do our parts."
(On seeing a lot of talent among the undrafted and tryout players)
"Oh yeah, most definitely. A lot of guys get overlooked and things like that. You can see out here on the field, guys from all over, FCS schools and things like that, just making plays. Everybody's talented at this level."
(On what his first day was like)
"It was different – first time feeling lost again, not knowing from period to period [what will happen], feeling like a freshman again. I've just got to get acclimated and then I'll go from there."
(On how it felt to put on the Buccaneers helmet)
"It felt great, man. They've got the label on it, the logo – at SC we didn't get the label going in. It's good to have that stripe on me. I'm just trying to be an NFL player."
(On if he felt like he had finally arrived)
"I haven't arrived yet. This is still a work in progress."
(On the Buccaneers facility)
"This thing is amazing. SC is nice too but this is all dedicated to football. At SC, we were sharing it with soccer and basketball and all those things. Yeah, this facility is off the chain."
(On what his first big purchase will be)
"That's a good question. I haven't made it yet, but I'll probably look to get my grandma a car, as well. I've still got to think about that."
(On if he has goals for his rookie season)
"I'm definitely coming in [and] hitting it right off the bat, like you said – Rookie of the Year, things like that, taking the team to the next level, winning the division and ultimately going deep in the playoffs. Just making that spark."

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