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15 December 2015

Week 15 Conference Call Transcripts: at St. Louis Rams (12/17/15)

(On the Tampa Bay rush defense)
“They’re playing very well. They’re setting their edges, they’re handling the cutback runs, they’re getting off blocks – and they’ve played some teams that can run the football as well. They’re not giving up a lot of yards. Some of those yards are hidden, but I’m just very impressed with how they’re playing.”
(On running back Todd Gurley)
“We drafted him to be the running back of our future. We took him, we were patient with him, we waited until Week 3, got him a few carries and then he really came on in Week 4, at Arizona. We’re trying to get the ball to him as often as we can, being mindful of we don’t want to wear him out. He’s in great shape right now. I can’t wait until he has a full offseason where he can put the offseason between the injury and playing. He’s just special; he’s got special skills. And he’s a better person than he is player.”
(On defensive tackle Aaron Donald)
“Aaron really came on last year, end of the season – Defensive Rookie of the Year. When the season was over, he went back to work. That’s how he is. He doesn’t know anything different than that. He loves to work. He’s really, really smart. Great leverage player with hands, lower-body strength, and he’s got great quickness. He’s hard to block – he’s hard to block with two. One can imagine how it would be had we still had Rob Quinn healthy. But guys are playing good. Geno [Atkins] is playing good. But, boy, when you can get that speed and that combination there, it’s tough to defend. But [Donald] is having a great year. I think even though the last six weeks, we’re overshadowed by the losing streak, he has really made a difference up front. He’s very difficult to block and I imagine it’s going to be a tough time on a short week to get him blocked.”
(On whether the possibility of the Rams leaving St. Louis is the ‘talk of the town’ and how he keeps players focused on the game amidst the rumors)
“Well, the next game every week is a challenge and you’re focused on the next opponent. When you say ‘talk of the town,’ I’ve been asked [about a possible move] once, and that was yesterday. My focus is on Tampa. So it’s not a big issue right now. It may become so as the week goes on, but it’s not a big issue. We can only do what we can control and that’s practice and prepare for this game. That’s where it stands right now. We’ve been fortunate that we’ve had good attendance. [Fans have] been excited to come out and watch us play. They’ve hung through some tough times, but I think they were very excited to see us win the game last weekend.”
(On impressions of Tampa Bay quarterback Jameis Winston from the pre-draft process)
“We had a private workout with him. Spent a lot of time with him and really, really liked him. My son played at Auburn [so] I got to see [Winston] in person under a National Championship Game at the Rose Bowl. Just very impressed with him. There’s no doubt in our mind that he was one of the Top 2 last year. You couldn’t go wrong with either one of them. Just to watch him over time and watch the games and watch him kind of develop – they’re expanding the offense with him now. His feet are good, the ball is always in the right position, release is good, accuracy – it’s hard to complete every pass; you can’t do that, but his accuracy is good and he’s mobile. And that presents problems for you. Anytime you can extend plays with your legs, which he’s done numerous times, it becomes a problem for you defensively  As you guys know, I think, really, one of the marks of a good young quarterback is what he’s doing on third down. And [Winston] is 42 percent or something like that in conversion rate on third down, which is really impressive. It’s hard to convert third downs as we know, but he’s doing a great job at it.”
(On former Tampa Bay player and current St. Louis player Mark Barron)
“We packaged Mark up after the trade and got him on the field in different packages, and then when we lost Alec [Ogletree], we put him in the lineup and he’s done a great job. He loves playing around the line of scrimmage. If you look at [Deone] Bucannon in Arizona and what Mark’s doing behind the ball on early downs, I think that’s where we’re going. He takes on linemen and shocks and sheds, but still has that ability, as you guys know, to cover tight ends and backs. He’s an outstanding blitzer, he knocks balls loose as the safety in our kickoff cover team. He’s just playing really good ball for us. It was a great deal for us and we have every intention of getting him back.”
(On feedback he has received about Thursday Night Football games as a member of the league’s Competition Committee)
“The studies have been done going back three or four years that the injury rates are no different. They’re not higher [than Sunday games]. Frequency is no different. From a coaching standpoint it’s hard – we’re all sleep-deprived and today is Friday and you’ve got to get your guys back. But at kickoff they come back. If at any point the league has concrete evidence that the injury rates are different then they’ll look at it, but, based on the meetings that I’ve sat in overt the last few years, there’s no change there.”
(On Tampa Bay’s rush defense)
“It’s a great front seven. Good tackling on the back end. From Lavonte [David] and [Gerald] McCoy, definitely two guys you have to watch out for and be aware of. They’re always around the ball, making plays. Just a great overall defense.”
(On his relationship with Tampa Bay quarterback Jameis Winston)
“He’s had a great year. He’s definitely my boy, so it’s always good seeing him do well. We stay in contact and check up on each other, so it’ll definitely be fun playing against him this Thursday – my first time playing against him.”
(On going against Winston for Rookie of the Year)
“We know what type of players we are. We’re competitive. We don’t think about all of the awards, but at the end of the day that’s what comes with it. But at the end of the day, it’s all about winning and trying to make a playoff run for both teams. That’s just what we’re thinking – we’re not really worrying about the accolades.”
(On his journey recovering from his ACL injury)
“It was a tough process, but the way I looked at it, I’m not the first person to tear his ACL and I’m not going to be the last. Just have to go through the rehab and get back to playing. So I didn’t really look at it like a big deal like that.”
(On being compared to other great running backs)
“That’s what people do, they compare people. When I was at Georgia, they tried to compare me to Herschel Walker. I don’t really get into all of that. That’s for all the fans and the media and stuff like that. I just do my game and don’t worry about all that.”
(On being represented by Roc Nation and having Jay Z visit with the team at last week’s game)
“It was cool. The guys were definitely excited to see him and it was just a surprise to everybody. We had those five games that we lost before and that was our first win in a while, so [Jay Z’s visit] brought even more excitement.”

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