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01 October 2015

Buccaneers Quotes: Thursday, October 1, 2015

BUC BIT OF THE DAY: Buccaneers rookie LB Kwon Alexander has four passes defensed this year, tied for the most by a linebacker in the NFL (also N.Y. Giants LB Uani Unga).
 
Below is a selection of Tampa Bay Buccaneers quotes from today’s earlier media availability:
 
Head Coach Lovie Smith
Defensive Coordinator Leslie Frazier
Wide Receiver Vincent Jackson
Defensive Tackle Gerald McCoy
 
HEAD COACH LOVIE SMITH
 
(Opening Statement)
“Injury list – we added Doug Martin to the injury list – same guys as yesterday: Johnthan Banks, Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Evan Smith and Luke Stocker weren’t able to practice. Doug Martin hit his knee yesterday, so we kept him out today – should be okay. Beyond on that, Donovan Smith was able to practice on a limited basis today, which is good news for us. Good practice, weather cooperated with us.”
 
(On having tackle Donovan Smith back at practice and how encouraging it has to have had him in every game thus far)
“[I’m] very encouraged by his play. Two rookie linemen starting in the league, that’s tough duty, especially at the left tackle position. He’ll get better and better each week, but to get better you need to get the reps. That’s why it was important for us to get him back out there today at practice. He looked pretty good.”
 
(On where Donovan Smith is improving the most)
“In all areas. To just say one area, we say the guy is improving we’re talking about all the things he has to do: run blocking, knowing who to block, pass protection – that’s normally how you judge a left tackle is based on pass protection. He’s blocking the right guy most of the time and doing a pretty good job of it. Yes, he is making progress each week. We expect that each week from him. We expect him and the rest of our guys to take another step. [The] offensive line played pretty good last week. We’ll need that same good effort this coming week.”
 
(On his message to guys who are hurt but not injured and are going to play on Sunday)
“Nobody wants to hear about you hurting. They just really don’t. I’m hurting. Nobody wants to hear about the hurt. I mean, if there’s an injury, stay out until you’re ready to go, but this time of year, as physical of a football game as they normally are, you are going to have some hurt. You have to just keep going, like Gerald [McCoy] and some more of our players are. Gerald should be good to go this week and we’ll need him.”
 
(On what he saw from cornerback Mike Jenkins against Houston and if he will play more if Johnthan banks is inactive)
“Mike would have been called on anyway. It doesn’t have much to do with whether Johnthan will be ready to go this week. What we see from Mike, he’s a competitor, he has great quickness and speed. He’s aggressive. Good things you are looking for in a corner, I think he has. Injuries have held him back a little bit. He’s been waiting for an opportunity. I thought he played pretty good last week.”
 
(On how losing two tight ends affects the game plan)
“It affects it. You have to rely on other ways. Most of the time, if you only have two tight ends and it calls for more you have to use one of your linemen, which we have done – last week Kevin [Pamphile] – so that’s just the base part of life in the NFL. If you have a couple injuries you have to rely on linemen.” From there you can also go more wide receiver-friendly formations too. You could go a couple running backs, three wide outs. Go four wide outs. We have five wide outs dressing, we’ll go with them. There are a lot of different options you can still use.”
 
(On adding running back Mike James to the practice squad after releasing him from the active roster)
“He’s one of our guys. The numbers sometimes dictate, you have to make some cuts of popular guys, and not just popular guys, guys that are kind of the core of what you are trying to do. Mike has been a part of that. When you get an opportunity to bring him back, you get him back as soon as possible. That was pretty quick for Mike, but his team called on him and he answered the bell again.”
 
(On how James handled going from the active roster to the practice squad and if his willingness to be on the practice squad shows he is a team player)
“That’s what exactly what it says about him and I’m talking about being a good team player. Your role can change [at] any given moment and you have to accept it on what the team needs you to do at the time. That may be on the active 53. That may be on the active 46 or on the practice squad. When you are one of our guys, whatever the team asks you to do, that’s what you’ll do. We talk about who Mike James is – not like that surprised me. That is who he is and we need him in this role right now.”
 
(On if being what the teams needs a player to be applies to cornerback Alterraun Verner)
“Yes, same holds true. It changes from week to week. That’s what’s fair. You have to go with your best option, as a coaching staff, the best option we feel like we can get to do whatever we want to do that game. That can change through the course of a game. You have to accept that role and our players always do that. You don’t have to be excited about every move. As a player, if you are getting less reps, you’re not going to be excited about that, but what you do is stay ready and normally if you deserve to play you’ll get another opportunity to play.”
 
(On the task linebacker Kwon Alexander faces against Carolina quarterback Cam Newton and tight end Greg Olsen)
“[It’s a] big challenge, one that as a rookie you are looking forward to. For him, whether [Luke] Kuechly plays or not, we talked a little bit yesterday about it’s always quarterback versus quarterback, linebacker [versus] linebacker, defensive end [versus] defensive end. You are always watching what that person is doing. Then it’s who you are playing against. Greg Olsen is an outstanding tight end. He can do an awful lot. Kwon knows that, so he knows that will be tough duty. Of course they have other offensive players too, so he’s looking forward to it. As a rookie, first time we’re going to see each other, of course, twice a year, so we need to get used to it.”
 
(On if Carolina has elements of what he is trying to build in Tampa Bay)
“We hope that we are closer to doing that. They have what we want. [They are] defending NFC South champs. Unfortunately for us right now we’re looking up at them. That’s the beauty of starting a new year. We’re talking about what happened last year. Yes, they are in a role that we are trying to get there. We do try to win football games in a similar fashion. [It] should be a heck of a game. We’ve made progress. I’ve talked about the amount of progress we’re making, but we haven’t put it all together yet for four quarters and we’ll need to do that this week.”
 
(On if one person makes a mistake in this scheme it compromises the whole defense)
“I wouldn’t say freelance. I think when you are in a disciplined defense you have to be in your gap every time. That’s hard to do. I don’t know if I ever played a game where a guy has been in his gap every time. When a guy isn’t in his gap though, if everybody is running to the football you can compensate for that by just pursuit and things like that. There were a few defenses last week we weren’t in our proper gaps each time. Normally you get burned when that happens. Just keep working on it, keep calling guys out, holding them accountable and normally you get that taken care of. That’s how we want to see it this week. We need to be sound in our gaps for all the different things that they try to do to you offensively.”
 
DEFENSIVE COORDINATOR LESLIE FRAZIER
                         
(Opening Statement)
“Good afternoon everybody. [This is a] big game for us – another division rival coming up. We got to find a way to get a win at home. Our guys worked hard yesterday and need to put in another good day today together and go out and play well on Sunday, for obvious reasons.”
 
(On defensive tackle Gerald McCoy’s injury)
“Like a lot of guys in the league at this point, they’re battling through different aches and bruises and some sort of pain. He’s doing the same thing. He’s battling, putting himself in a position where he can go out and play on Sunday. Our doctors have cleared him. He’s raring to go for this ball game this week. He’s not 100 percent, but there are a lot of guys who are playing that aren’t 100 percent and he joins that club.”
 
(On how much McCoy’s shoulder will limit   his effectiveness against Carolina)
“It probably has some degree of effect. To what degree, I don’t know. He’s getting better as time goes on, but he’s still a handful for anybody to block and it won’t be any different this weekend. He’s just not 100 percent.”
 
(On defensive end George Johnson)
“George has done some good things at times for us. We’re trying to get more consistency from him, where we get some of those good plays more often. Hopefully this will that week. He’s not as accustomed to probably playing as many snaps or even having the role he has here with us. He’s never really been a starter, so he is getting acclimated to that, along with the number of snaps and the things we are asking him to do. At times, he’s been pretty good for us and other times we need to get a little more. He’s working hard in practice this week. He’s been doing it all along. Just need to get more consistency.”
 
(On cornerback Alterraun Verner’s playing time decreasing)
“He’s done some good things for us in his time here. There have been some ups and downs for him for sure. I think it’s more about what we think Tim [Jennings] can bring to the table. Tim has had a lot of experience in this system. He has had a lot of success in this system going to the Pro Bowl. Just watching some of the things he’s done in practice and even when he’s been in ball games, we know what he is capable of. Alterraun is still working as hard as he has to work to give us good snaps, when he is in the ball game. This weekend he’s going to be out there. How many snap I’m not certain yet, but he’s going to be out there. He’ll get his opportunities, just like he did this past weekend. Tim has done some good things for us, so we want to take a look at him, but Alterraun will get some snaps.
 
(On Carolina defensive end Jared Allen)
“I have good memories of Jared Allen [in Minnesota] – seeing him get after the quarterback for as long as he did for [Minnesota] and did a terrific job in doing that. I haven’t seen much of him on tape in his time with Chicago, but gregarious guy, great in the locker room, he’s just a great player to have on your team. He’s 33, maybe, now, so I’m not sure he’s the same as when he was 25 or 26, although I’m sure he would say different, but [has] been a great player in our league for a few years now.”
 
(On how linebacker Kwon Alexander is improving week to week)
“When you have a tight end as athletic as [Greg] Olsen is it puts a lot of stress on the middle of your defense. You see him catching balls on good safeties, even corners – some people match up with him at corner and he still finds a way to get open. He’s a crafty veteran receiver. To have a guy like Kwon, who has tremendous athletic ability and can run with some of these quicker twitch tight ends, we hope that it is in our favor and he’ll definitely be tested this week. They’ll test him. To answer your question about how we’ve seen him improve, an example is the interception that he got the other day. Just the reaction [he had] to that tipped ball. That’s a guy that is confident, that’s at the right place at the right time and then the tackles that he has come up with. He is improving, still [has] some things we want to iron out, but some of that will come with experience.”
 
(On the challenges a young middle linebacker faces against a multidimensional quarterback like Cam Newton)
“Not just the two players who are very fine players, but just their system alone. It presents some problems for any middle linebacker. They do a lot of different things. They’re not just a drop-back team, they run the option, they run the ball very effectively, but they do a great job of getting the ball to the right people in the passing game. They give you a lot of different looks and it does stress your [middle] linebacker. We are going to do all we can to help him as much as we can with what we are doing, but he’ll be challenged this weekend for sure. [They have] different personnel groups as well.”
 
(On if this is Alexander’s biggest challenge yet)
“When you are as young as he is, I’m sure he would say every game has been a challenge. This is a good group. They’ve got a good offense with some good players at key positions. There will be some challenges for sure.”
 
(On getting the right personnel on the field during games)
“We talked about that and we just want to make sure we do a good job of communicating what we want to get down personnel-wise. What personnel do we want on the field when the offense changes personnel, or if they are keeping the same personnel, how do we want to get those guys on the field that we want on the field? We think we’ve ironed that out and worked through it. We’re facing a team this weekend that does something similar to what we saw last weekend with Houston. This will be a good challenge for us in that way – match up personnel and make sure we have the right 11 – and only 11 – on the field.”
 
(On if Houston having 29 more plays is what led to success with play action)
“When a team can run the ball as effectively as they did, especially in the fourth quarter, it does open the play action game. We didn’t really shut down the run game. We did a pretty good job of containing it early on, but to say we really shut it down – can’t say that. It creates a dilemma because your linebackers – you are counting on those guys to be a part of your run fits and all of a sudden their quarterbacks is pulling the ball out and throwing right behind them. We have to do a better job against the run and get them into situations where our linebackers can react a little bit better. It starts with [us] being able to play the run a little bit better.”
 
(On last week having eight tackles for a loss and still giving up 186 rushing yards)
“You’re right, it doesn’t usually happen. Part of it is we have to tackle a little bit better for sure and we have to get more people to the ball. That always helps as well. Tackling and making sure that we are in our gaps are probably the key ingredients to playing good run defense – tackling and staying in your gap and not feeling like you have to do anything extra. We had a little bit of that in the fourth quarter where people got out of their gaps. Now you run the risk of a three yard play becoming a 10 or 12-yard play.”
 
WIDE RECEIVER VINCENT JACKSON
 
(On the importance of this game against Carolina)
“It’s huge. The division is where the playoff game begins. Obviously we have one up right now in our pocket, but we’ve got to continue to fight – get one at home. Protecting home field throughout the rest of the season is going to be very big for us. Any time you have a division opponent, I’m not saying it’s any more important than any other game we have, but we know it’s going to count more as far as that playoff picture.”
 
(On former Buccaneers fullback Mike Alstott being inducted into the Ring of Honor on Sunday)
“Mike has been a household name in this community for a long time. He’s a great leader, mentor for other players that have come up through this organization and just a great man in this community. I’m so glad he stuck around here and continued to do great things for this organization and for this town and I couldn’t be happier for him. It should be great.”
 
(On if Alstott is someone he has looked up to in terms of getting involved in the community)
“Of course. I think the first event that I did when I came here in 2012 was play in Mike Alstott’s golf tournament. Just getting associated with people like that, seeing what he’s involved in, learning about the circles that he worked with, the different ways I could touch this community myself and he’s been a great role model for me.”
 
(On if he saw improvements in the passing game against Houston)
“As far as trying to put the ball where it’s supposed to go I thought we did a great job reading things out and giving ourselves a chance on third downs. Again, we just want to do a better job on first and second down and stay out of third-and-longs and [have] more manageable downs and we’ll be just fine. I think the passing game has continued to improve and show things that will be more dynamic each and every week.”
 
(On having a more balanced passing game)
“It just kind of [depends] on the flow of the game. Sometimes it’s going to go that way and I think we always try to be as balanced as possible. We’ve got good receivers, tight ends, running backs and we try to spread the ball out. The ball should really go wherever the best matchup is and where the defense dictates as far as that’s the open guy. We’re not doing anything special to change that up. It’s just continue to move forward and get everybody involved.”
 
(On if time of possession could be a key component to winning this game)
“It’s going to be huge. We have to do a better job as an offense keeping our defense off the field, giving them a break. I think they had something like 90 snaps or something last week – something really high. I haven’t heard of that very many times in my career so that’s on us as an offense to do a better job keeping drives going, doing a better job on third down and giving those guys a break.”
 
(On if quarterback Jameis Winston is getting the ball out quicker)
“Yes, I think that’s been something, especially when we got to the Houston week last week with the pass rushing that they had. That was something our offensive coaches really harped on him with saying, ‘You’ve got to get your drops. You’ve got to get the ball out of your hands and make your reads quickly and get it out of there. We don’t want to take sacks.’ We did a great job I thought in that part and our offensive line did a great job handling those guys up front. Moving forward I think that was the standard that has been set now for him to go ahead and get that ball out and make his reads quickly.”
 
DEFENSIVE TACKLE GERALD MCCOY
                         
(On the challenges Carolina quarterback Cam Newton presents)
“One thing you can’t give Cam Newton, not everybody is as talented as he is, but what makes him so good is when you give him a run/pass option. I think they are in the top six or something like that in running the ball. Him in general, if he can get going with his feet and then you give him an option to throw as well, he’ll kill you. We have to limit that as much as possible.”
 
(On rookie linebacker Kwon Alexander)
“He’s opened up more. When he first got here he didn’t say a word, but now he’s more comfortable and relaxed. He is just kind of in his place. He still has some growing to do, but in that facet of things he’s just more comfortable around us and it makes him play a lot better.”
 
(On the upcoming game being at home and against a divisional opponent)
“We lost last game so we want to bounce back with a win regardless of who or what.”
 
(On the importance for him to stay in the lineup)
“If you can be out there you want to be out there. I can be out there, so I’ll be out there.”
 
(On how he would describe the rivalry with the Panthers)
“Rivalries go back and forth. They’ve been kicking our tail for the past four tries so I don’t see that as a rivalry, just a division opponent. In my opinion, rivalries go back and forth. They are always good games, but they have been dogging us the past four games, so it’s not a rivalry. We have to step up to the challenge.”
 
(On if Newton gives rushers chances to make plays because he’s not always going to throw the ball)
“Yes, we just have to really cover each other up. I always say, ‘Four as one.’ The rush lanes are interchangeable. It’s best for a defense if you can keep him in the pocket. When he is able to move with his feet and kind of get going down field, he’ll kill you. That’s really what makes him so good. We have to do a great job of filling the rush lanes and trying to get somebody up the middle in his face and then you have to set the edge because he, in my opinion, is the best escape artist we have in the league. If you don’t get him bottled up he’ll kill you.”
 
(On Newton in the red zone)
“That dude really might be Superman. His rookie year, he flew in the end zone three times against us. I’ve just seen him do like an Olympic flip the last week or two weeks ago. Basically he is landing on both feet. That’s why I say people like that are mutants. He shouldn’t be able to do that. 6’6”, 260 [pounds] or whatever he is, runs almost as fast as the fastest dude on the field and he’s doing that. I don’t think it’s legal for him to be playing in the league. That’s not fair.”
 
(On the key to improving the rush defense)
“Guys just doing their job. Guys [were] just trying to do too much. When I saw too much, I don’t have the A gap. I have the B gap. I’m a three-technique and most of the time I have the B gap. Stay in the B gap. It doesn’t matter if it moves. Gaps move in this league because of the evolution of how offenses are ran. You just stay in your gap and if you have an assignment, do your job and I think we’ll improve on the run.”
 
(On if he includes himself in how to improve)
“Yes, there’s 11 people on the field. I’m out there.”
 
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