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31 July 2015

TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS TRAINING CAMP MEDIA AVAILABILITY FRIDAY, JULY 31, 2015

HEAD COACH LOVIE SMITH
 
(Opening statement)
“Welcome back. Good seeing everyone. Hopefully you had a great time on your time away. We definitely did. I know my family a lot better right now than I did last time I talked with you. I really encouraged the guys to get away. We had a nice break in between – guys need it. I felt like we had a good start to our offseason program of kind of setting the direction that we wanted to go, but now it’s about finishing it. When you evaluate linemen, it’s pretty hard to evaluate them when you don’t get a chance to practice in pads. In about three days or so we’ll be in pads and we’ll be able to get better evaluations on some of our players. Some of our players I feel like we have had an opportunity to evaluate them enough to make some decisions. Jameis Winston will be our starting quarterback. He will take first(-team) reps tomorrow. We’re excited about that. I haven’t talked to all of our football team about the depth chart and where our starting rotation will begin, but we just started our meetings this morning. I think most of you were out there when they came in early this morning. All we’ve done so far is talk about a lot of the things off the field; getting some of the mandatory meetings we have from the league, things like that done. This afternoon we will start getting into football a little bit more. We are going to be a good football team. We realize the areas we need to improve. Now it’s time for all that talk to cease and we get to work on the practice field.”
 
(On what went into naming Jameis Winston the starting quarterback)
“A lot of things go into that. We have a lot of evaluation of him. That’s where we feel like he is. We brought him here to be our quarterback. We feel like he’s ready to take this next step. Now we are not game ready, we are not Tennessee ready by any means at a lot of positions, but he needs to move into that role right now. Again, we all feel good about him going there.”
 
(On the advantage of naming a rookie the starting quarterback before training camp)
“I don’t know. I just know how I feel. I feel strongly about this. We feel like we let Jameis go through a process of the offseason getting limited reps, working with both groups. We put him in that position, but eventually you have to put them in the lead position and let them go. A lot will be talked about the quarterback, but how we are perceived and how we do this coming season will be based on a lot more than just that. Offensively, we have to do some other things a lot better around the quarterback position, mainly running the football. Defensively, we have to start the season the way we finished-up a little bit playing defense and that’s playing a lot better defense than we did early on. There is a lot that goes into it, but every decision we make, as far as the depth chart, is based on all the information, meetings, seeing guys on the field and this is where we think we are.”
 
(On what position battles will be interesting to watch during training camp)
“I’m not going around, skirting around your question, but that’s hard to say a little bit because you want a battle at every position and the offseason lets us know about the position guys starting. I talk a lot about starting rotation, but you work through that as you get into pads and you see guys. Then we’ll see where the true competition is based on what we’ve seen early in training camp and once we get to that first preseason game, but that will play out and I think it will be fairly obvious, probably by how we are working guys and what we all see on what and who the true battles are.”
 
(On if there are any other rookies that will be taking first-team snaps)
“You know, we have a plan for all of them. I know most of you want to talk about the quarterback position. I haven’t really talked to the guys on that. Because really, when I say, ‘Get away guys,’ that’s been the case. I haven’t been talking to the guys, ‘Okay, you know you are in this position.’ No, this week we are letting everybody know where they stand and haven’t done that with all our players. Right now, about all I have been able to do is give them a big hug and say, ‘Hey, how’s it been going?’ We have time to get to some of the others, but one thing about training camp you will see what we are thinking based on the reps guys are getting out there.”
 
(On if he is going to be more demanding this season)
“No. More demanding is saying I wasn’t demanding then. I let some things go by. Saying I purposely went something go by then. I didn’t do that. Yeah, I have to be better. We all have to be better in all areas. We held them to a high standard last year. We are going to do the best job we possibly can in every situation. We are not going to talk a lot about last year though. It’s on record what we did. We all – and when I say we all, starting with me – have to do a better job in any subject, any area that you would bring up right now.”
 
(On if last year’s outcome changes the goals of this season)
“As far as changing up the goals, no. We have the same goals. Number one goal that I’m going to talk about is winning the first game, getting momentum early on, beating Tennessee. From there, winning the NFC South division and winning the Super Bowl. Those will be our goals. We had that in mind last year. We wanted to get off to a good start. Talking this year, that’s what we want to get accomplished.”
 
(On how much of the decision to name Jameis Winston the starting quarterback was based on him being drafted No. 1 overall versus what they saw during OTAs and mini-camps)
“It’s all of the above. It’s what we knew, what we saw in mini-camp, again, on the field, off the field, it’s everything. That’s how you make decisions on all position based on that. Again, this is a part of the process. We don’t give out lifetime jobs or anything like that. We have a starting rotation. In different phases we have a starting rotation and the guys know the starting rotation with this phase for our training camp.”
 
(On the realistic expectations of Winston)
“Realistic expectation? You’ll have to define realistic expectation. I just don’t go off that an awful lot. Every one of you all, you are all different and I think every person is different. We haven’t had this class. I know what has happened in the past, but we are not living in the past. You just have to go on now. What we expect from our quarterback position, Jameis being there, is production from the quarterback position, whether that means we need to pass the football just about every play to win the game or making good decisions playing around a running game. We expect our quarterback position to do what (offensive coordinator) Dirk (Koetter) and the rest of the offensive staff and us as a team needs us to do. And we think we will be able to do that.”
 
(On if the key for Jameis Winston is to fully understand the offense)
“A lot of it goes into that. As I talk about the evaluation starting all the way back there, that’s a part of it. Jameis, I think you know him well enough to know he gets it and he’s sharp. I would never put a guy in that position if he wasn’t ready for that. A lot has been said about Jameis and mentors and different things. Jameis doesn’t need a mentor, alright. Jameis is ready to take the reins and go with it. The mental part, the physical part and just being a quarterback in the NFL and being able to take the criticism that goes with this; I think he is ready for that.”
 
(On if he talked to the defense about challenging Jameis Winston to get him ready for the regular season)
“No, not at all. You said (defensive end) George (Johnson) said that? Well, George first has to worry about getting by that offensive lineman to get there. Hopefully our offensive linemen have something to say about him being able to get there. For George, yes we want George to play his position well. That’s a full-time job with him worrying about it and getting pressure on the quarterback. For our defense, going to the defense a little bit, we brought George here for that purpose. We need to get pressure with our four-man rush. We feel like we are going to be able to do that. We are excited about inside and outside. I know they are. You can’t work with the players in the offseason, but I’ve seen a few of them. From George of course to (defensive tackle) Gerald McCoy. Gerald is the best player on our team and all that, but he is working harder than anybody on our football team. A lot of those guys deserve to have a lot of success and they will.”
 
(On how quickly rookie quarterbacks can have success)
“I don’t think there is any doubt they are being put into that role quicker too. I’ve seen that from afar. I have had a rookie quarterback – it’s been awhile, but you still remember – Kyle Orton. For us, a lot of it was on the coaching staff to know when to give him a certain amount and we did that. What we did was play great defense with a rookie quarterback. We had a great running game with it and we asked our quarterback to do more and more each week. As I look at what Russell Wilson did, I hear he just got paid or something today. At first, he was asked to do a lot less than what he was a little bit later in the season. That does not mean we are going to go out there and run the ball, if we have 60 plays we are going to run it 55. No, we expect our quarterback and the quarterback position to function.”
 
(On his message to fans who are concerned about linebacker Lavonte David’s contract situation)
“I would tell the fans that it’s great that they are paying attention and they should. Lavonte will be taken care of. I think I am on record. You can go back to any shot that I’ve given on Lavonte David on how I feel about him. I feel the same way. That person and those fans that are thinking that way, no one loves him more than I do; when I say I, we as an organization. He will be taken care of. In time, we’ll get this taken care of. Of course there are negotiations that are going on, but Lavonte hasn’t missed a beat. I have seen him. He is excited and, again, in time we will get that taken care of.”
 
(On if he told Winston he would be the starter today and if he told the rest of the team at the same time)
“Jameis knows. He knows he is the starting quarterback. Have I told the football team, no. I have already broken my rule of telling you something before I tell them. Yes, he knows, but I don’t go in and make a lot of declarations on who’s at what, but for a guy that is going into that role, I wanted to make sure he knew.  As far as when I told him, I told him earlier.”
 
(On how Winston responded to being named the starting quarterback)
“He was excited and ready to go. It’s not like it was a total shock to him or anything like that. We brought him here to be our quarterback and he is.”
 
(On who is in the mix at the nickelback position)
“First up is (cornerback) Leonard (Johnson). Leonard got his first interception, I think, the last game of the season. There is (cornerback) Isaiah Frey who’s played the position. We brought (cornerback) Sterling (Moore) here to do a few things. Where Sterling ends up could be corner, of course it could be nickel. That will play itself out once we get there. Much as anything, we want to find out who our football players are that we need to play and we’ll get them in the right position.”
 
(On if the key to coaching is being flexible in regards to signing players)
“I think that’s the only way you have to go. It’s about today and what you see. You just keep making decisions on what you see that day. That’s the way we do it. I think most players realize that if you look at history it tells you to do it that way. No matter who you are don’t feel like you are locked in. Gerald (McCoy) can probably buy a house and feel confident about being around here, but as a player you should take that approach to it. I think guys do and that’s the only fair way to do it.”
 
(On if he feels that same pressure as a coach)
“Okay, when I’m talking to guys of course, as a coach, what do you think? Of course, every coach feels that way. Every day I come to work I don’t take that for granted. It’s about production. I realize that, but that’s how I have lived my life. There should be pressure. If you feel like there is not any pressure on you, you are misguided.”
 
(On if there are any players who will be sidelined for training camp)
“Yes, there are two players that will be sidelined. (Defensive tackle) Akeem Spence has a back injury. He will not be practicing. (Wide receiver) Louis Murphy hurt his ankle, freak accident, he will not be practicing. You will not see those two players practicing on the football field tomorrow. Everybody should be good to go.”
 
(On if anything has surprised him about Winston since he was drafted)
“No. I think the best surprise is when you are not really surprised. You have a perception of what someone should be like and with Jameis that’s what it’s been. Going through the process we saw him off the field. We got a chance to see his personality and how he handles the room. I knew he would be a good teammate and they would really like him. There haven’t been any surprises, but he’s a rookie – we need to get to training camp. What you can do in the offseason, for a quarterback he needs to go through this and get into a preseason game. If someone hits our quarterback on the practice field you can pretty much know what is going to happen after that. You don’t hit quarterbacks out there. It’s a whole different animal. We need to let him go through the process.”
 
(On how has he advised Winston to manage expectations)
“I think we manage a lot of that based on what we ask him to do. I’m not going to go to Jameis and say ‘Hey Jameis okay, you know the history of rookie quarterbacks and you guys aren’t supposed to do well. Let’s not set the bar too high.’ I just don’t know how to do that. We expect him to play well and whatever he feels like he can do, I want him to think that way. We’ll manage what he does in the situations we put him in.”
                           
(On if he considers Mike Glennon among the premier backup quarterbacks in the NFL)
“I’d definitely say that. As I of course talk to Jameis, talk to Mike, it’s about, for us, developing the quarterback position and we feel like we did that. We’ll continue to do that by keeping Mike involved. We are going to dress two quarterbacks each week. Mike Glennon is a good quarterback. Between him and Jameis we feel we are in pretty good shape at that position.”
 
(On if he has a pre-Training Camp speech to the players)
“I do have one, but I think I’ll probably give it to them first and then if they want to say something about it. Again, I don’t I believe I walk in there and say ‘Ok guys, here is the magic pill. This is what we do.’ We are going to set some goals and from there my message is it’s time to go to work. Show up on time every day, let us coach you, work hard and let’s see how good our football team can become. That’s pretty much the message always.”
 
(On what having offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter means to the offensive and the team)
“Yes, he has. You look at his time in Jacksonville. We just have an experienced coordinator. If we talk about Jameis and ask if anything has surprised you, you can say that about everything in general, coaches too. You don’t want to be surprised by who and I was definitely not surprised by what Dirk will bring and has brought to our football team. He has done an outstanding job. There is experience there on how to handle him coming in. And just our offense in general. We need production from our offense. We need to score points. We haven’t brought up special teams too. All three phases, we feel like we have a good plan and we like the guys leading it.”
 
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