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27 August 2015

Buccaneers Quotes: Thursday, August 27, 2015

Below is a selection of Tampa Bay Buccaneers quotes from today’s earlier media availability:
Head Coach Lovie Smith
Defensive Coordinator Leslie Frazier
Defensive Tackle Gerald McCoy
(Opening statement)
“Good practice today. This third week is normally the game week/preparation week. It’s a typical Thursday practice for us, working on all those situations. [We] finished up with a good two-minute situation today so we are getting good work done. [We are] getting a couple players back – Evan Smith was able to practice today. It’s a good thing to get your center back. Beyond that, Cleveland has lost a couple of tough games. I think you guys know what I think about Josh McCown, so it will be good to see him. He has a different color uniform so we won’t have a family reunion or anything like that. Another good football team that we played a close game with last year.”
(On adding kicker Connor Barth)
“As we’ve said plenty of times, if we feel like there is someone available that we think could possibly make us better – I’m talking about our 90-man roster better right now – we bring them in. Of course, Connor has kicked a lot of balls for us around here and lost a close battle last year. We felt like we improved our kicking position. Patrick [Murray] is still our guy, but we want competition at every position and that is what we have. It’s good to see Connor come back.”
(On if the team has already signed Barth)
“I’ve been out on the practice field. I can’t go out with those details yet. He is here in town though, yes.”
(On bringing in long snapper Brandon Hartson and what it means to the specialist positions)
“It has been like that all along. We had a couple snapper in early and we need to go a different direction in one of those positions. We just want competition at every position and that is what we are doing. We felt it was important to bring in another snapper also.”
(Opening Statement)
“Good afternoon everyone, it felt good this past Monday night to get a win at Raymond James Stadium. Our guys are looking forward to this week. (It’s) kind of a dress rehearsal for our team and I would imagine for Cleveland as well. Our guys are looking forward to just building on some of the momentum that we gained from our game on Monday night. We had a good day of practice yesterday and with the cloud cover that we have today that should help also for us to have a fast practice. Guys are kind of chomping at the bit to get back to practice and just keep working to improve. We have a lot of reasons to work hard to continue to try to improve.”
(On if the play of the defense against Cincinnati was what the team envisioned coming in to last season)
“You put it in perspective when you consider it’s still the preseason, but there were so many positives that happened at that ball game – the takeaways, the pass rush that we had, the way the guys played and played fast. It was really encouraging and you would like to develop some consistency going forward. This ballgame, the starters will play a little longer so you hope to build on what happened on Monday night and then carry it on through September 13th and throughout the regular season.”
(On how much more involved Head Coach Lovie Smith involved in the defensive play calling compared to last season)
“There were times a year ago where there would definitely be communication on the headsets. It won’t be any different this year. He’s going to be heavily involved as he always has been with our defense. He is going to do the majority of the defensive play calling. It really doesn’t change my role from a year ago, it really doesn’t. My role is to come in and help our defense and help them prepare for every ball game and help our team to win. It really hasn’t changed anything that I have to get done.”
(On how he feels about Smith calling the majority of the defensive plays)
“I’m excited for it, because (with) his background, the defense that we install is the one that he ran in Chicago. It should be good for our defense, good for our team. I think we are all looking forward to continue to build on this momentum we have from this offseason and also what we gained in that ball game Monday night.”
(On rookie linebacker Kwon Alexander having the radio in his helmet and calling the defensive plays in the huddle)
“He had his moments – being a rookie and getting his first start at middle linebacker – a little bit up and down at times. We know there is going to be some of that where you are going to look and say, ‘What was that?’ The more he plays, the better he’s going to get. He’s shown in practice and even in the one preseason game he had prior to our game on Monday night that he flashes the things that you look for in a middle linebacker – his leadership, his study habits, the way he prepares and then his athletic ability as well. As he plays, he’ll get better at what we are asking him to do. We think he is going to turn into a good middle linebacker for us.”
(On if Alexander will continue to call the defensive plays in the huddle)
“I don’t know if you can completely say at this point when we line up on September 13th that he’s going to be the one that’s relaying all the calls and making all the checks. You still have Lavonte [David] out there on the field. He did that for us at times a season ago. I could easily see that still being the case, at least early on, but we’ll see. We’ll see how Kwon progresses.”
(On linebacker Danny Lansanah being a playmaker and if Frazier has been around guys like that in the past)
“Yeah, he’s on of those guys. You are right. Just look at his short history here even just going back a season ago those are big plays he made for us – scoring touchdowns, getting interceptions. Hardy Nickerson has a saying for him. He says, ‘There goes that man again.’ He just seems to have that knack that you mentioned, to come up with big plays at the right time. It’s a great story when you look at his background to see where he is now. (It) just gives you a great idea of the importance to not give up on yourself. He’s fought through a lot of things and he has overcome a lot. He’s a pretty good football player and I think more and more people are beginning to take notice of that.”
(On who stands out as being the third and fourth cornerbacks on the 53-man roster)
“I think it’s still up in the air to a degree. We had two preseason games. I think this third game hopefully will help to find a little bit. Unfortunately losing Leonard [Johnson] means that Sterling [Moore] has to play more at the nickel. He was a guy we were kind of pegging for a guy to compete for that third or fourth spot. Now that means Mike Jenkins has to stay healthy for us and keep improving. We have some other young guys that we are working with. We want to see Brandon Dixon continue to improve as well. It’s still in flux in a lot of ways. There is nothing definitive when it comes to our third or fourth corner at this point.”
(On safety D.J. Swearinger having an intimidation factor without drawing penalty flags)
“That hit he had near the goal line, that was impressive. To jar the ball loose without seeing those yellow flags coming out, I mean you don’t get hits like that in today’s NFL very often without a flag coming out and eventually a letter in that mail. It was a great job by him understanding the rules and leading with his shoulder versus his head. He is one of those guys that kind of gives you an idea of what the NFL is becoming when it comes to the safety position – ability to go out and cover tight ends in space – and there are some very good athletic tight ends in our NFL today –  yet can play in the box and tackle. He’s one of those guys who has all the ingredients you kind of look for in today’s safety. He’s a smart football player as well. He can really hit you – evidenced by what we say on Monday night. It was a good pickup by our guys to get him on our squad. We’re looking forward to watching him play on Saturday night and see how he does and just see if it warrants a greater look on our part regarding him.”
(On if there has been a bigger emphasis on getting turnovers this season)
“I don’t think so. I think it’s more being together for a year and understanding the importance of it. It’s something that has been drilled over and over throughout a season ago. Now you come back a second season, you know you are going to hear the coaches talking about taking the ball away. You expect that. Then you practice that way. I think it’s more guys having experience in the system and understanding what the coaches are kind of looking for and they have taken to that – evidenced by what you saw in practice. It’s showing up so far in the ball games. Hopefully when the real thing begins in September it will continue and we can get it done in ball games as well.”
(On if the backup linebacker spots on the 53-man roster will rely heavily on special teams play)
“I think you hit the nail on the head. You need to be a special teams guy when it comes to that fifth and sixth linebacker, if we are able to keep six. I think last year we went five a lot. If you are one of those backup linebackers that where you are going to make your name at. Our top three are probably the guys who are going to get the majority of the game reps. Four, five and six, you want those guys to really be core special teams guys. If they aren’t it’s going to affect your special teams which in turn is going to effect your team. That’s probably where they are going to make our team at. They have to be serviceable as backups at linebacker, but as importantly, they need to be very good on special teams.”
(On if cornerback Isaiah Frey will play nickel because of injuries)
“Yeah, that’s what we’re going to end up having to do. We had him at corner for this last ball game and we wanted to take a look at him there, but with Leonard being down we have to move him back to nickel. He will get his reps at nickel this ball game.”
(On if he wants to settle on his best four defensive linemen in the third preseason game)
“You would like for that to be the case, but we still haven’t come to the conclusion that this guy is best at left (end) and this guy is best at right (end). We realize that because of injury and the number of guys we may be dressing from week to week, you are probably going to have to play both right and left. We have an idea where we think Jacquies [Smith] is best at, but with our situation where you don’t have that true No. 1 guy where every time he lines up you know he is going to be there. We don’t have that so our guys need to have the flexibility to play left and right. That’s kind of where we are right now.” 
(On the importance of the defense working together)
“It’s a team sport for a reason. This defense we play, the Tampa-2, is predicated off how the front four plays, whether it is in the run or pass, but definitely in the pass. Coach [Lovie Smith] always says rush and coverage have to work together. Coach [Joe] Cullen always tells us is four is one. Of course you will have guys around the league that one-on-one, individually are better than other guys, but if you look around the league a lot of these guys who have high sack numbers they are not doing it by themselves. They may benefit from it a lot of the time, but they are not doing it by themselves. These teams who have high sack numbers – not individually, but as a team – they usually work together well. Guys just kind of feel each other while we are rushing. Me, knowing how I rush, I know I’m going to catch a lot of double teams. I was just telling the guys I’m not a selfish player. I’m out here to make everybody around me better. If we work together then the rush can come alive. If I take up two that frees somebody up and I don’t mind doing that. We just have to do that across the whole unit. Me personally, I feel like we have a couple guys in the room that can be those standout guys and get to that double-digit number we are looking for, but it’s going to take a unit to do it.”
(On how flexible the defense is in regards to showing multiple looks with the same players)
“We have a lot of guys upfront like you mentioned that are hybrids – they can play [inside and outside]. They will only be as good as they work to be as far as perfecting their craft and their skillset. Me personally, I work to rush from the inside. If I had to go outside I believe I can do it, but what I try to perfect is what I do on the inside. Those guys, if they work on their skillset they can master being an outside and inside guy. You have Henry Melton who is a Pro Bowl talent and he started at end for us this week, but he has also played three-technique. Will Gholston has done it. George Johnson has even done it. Coach Cullen has done a great job of letting guys go in and out even in pass rush one-on-ones and third down periods and two-minute drill, he lets the ends go inside, he lets some tackles go outside and the reason being is he wants the four best rushers on the field regardless of who they are (or) where they have to play.”
(On what gives him the confidence that this season in high pressure situations the defense is going to rise up)
“Just growth as a team – our abilities and knowledge of the game. An example that is a difference in how we rushed the passer Week 1 of the preseason as opposed to Week 2. Just learning from our mistakes and realizing there is little things that have to be done better. Rush lanes are huge in this league. We’re playing a quarterback this week that I had the pleasure of playing with. If you give him a seam he will tuck (the football) and run. We definitely have to be in our rush lanes with him. Leading into Week 1, obviously [Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota] can run. Rush lanes are huge up front and just covering each other up. On the back end, just being on your keys and everybody individually doing their job. I think if we grow mentally we can get over that hump to start finishing games out.”
(On what he has seen from running back Doug Martin that is different compared to last season)
“Doug overall just looks better. The shape he came in for camp was ridiculous. I saw him in the spring. I told Doug, ‘Man you are starting to look like your old self.’ Then he showed up to camp in spectacular shape and all camp he has been who we expect Doug to be. It’s starting to come alive in the preseason and I think he is going to have a huge year.”
(On if he felt the team had more intensity on Monday night)
“I can say that I think the intensity was a lot higher. The focus was a lot higher. The urgency was higher, but also yes, the little things we did better. We left so much out on the field though. We left way too much out there. Guys working together covered a lot of it up, but the other teams around the league that watch film, they (saw) it. We know there is a lot that we need to fix. Just little pieces here and there that we could be better.”
(On Offensive Coordinator Dirk Koetter)
“Coach Koetter as a coordinator is excellent and his intensity in particular is hidden from the public eye, but we get to see it because we are out there with him every day. He doesn’t take anything [being wrong]. If the break in the huddle is not good enough, he is going to let you hear about it. Then it’s just about having the right pieces in place and putting guys where he needs them to be. He’s just so intelligent. Even in camp switching some things up to neutralize me and he would always give me the eye, give me the wink. He’s got a counter for everything and that’s great to know. We got a tiny, tiny glimpse of it on Monday. Hopefully we can just keep building on it.”
(On his thoughts of facing quarterbacks Josh McCown and Johnny Manziel on Saturday)
“It (doesn’t) matter who is at quarterback. I’m going to shake Josh’s hand before and after the game. When the ball is kicked off I don’t know him. It’s as simple as that.”
(On if he eases up on McCown because he knows him personally)
“He’s a Brown, not a Buccaneer anymore. He’s a good friend, but he knows how it goes. Josh has been in the league for a while.”
(On if he notices a difference between Head Coach Lovie Smith and Defensive Coordinator Leslie Frazier calling the plays)
“The play is signaled in, Kwon Alexander says what the play is and I play it. It’s as simple as that. There is no more to it. You play what’s called. After that it’s everybody needs to just do their job instead of being concerned about who is calling it. Whatever is called, just do your job. Worry about everything else later.”      

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