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09 August 2015

TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS TRAINING CAMP MEDIA AVAILABILITY SUNDAY, AUGUST 9, 2015

Below is a selection of Tampa Bay Buccaneers quotes from today’s earlier media availability:
 
Head Coach Lovie Smith
Wide Receiver Vincent Jackson
Cornerback Alterraun Verner
 
HEAD COACH LOVIE SMITH
                  
(Opening statement)
“As we continue to put the team in different situations, getting a little bit closer to game time, it’s always good. Today, we were working the red zone. I thought our offense did some good things. We have guys making plays. Different guys, it seems like, are stepping up making the coaching staff take notice. At the same time, we are still doing some things that will get you beat. The center-quarterback exchange – the ball has been on the ground too many times. We’ll clean some of that up. We had a few guys that we kept out. (It was a) scheduled off day, (defensive tackle) Gerald McCoy. We don’t have many major injuries and that’s a good thing, so the guys take a little bit of time off and we’ll get ready to go, getting a little bit closer to our first game.”
 
(On defensive end George Johnson wanting to practice)
“They normally say that when they are not practicing. ‘I wanted to go.’ No, seriously with George, he’s done a lot of good things and he’ll be back out there before long.”
 
(On if quarterback Jameis Winston has been showing the progress he wants to see)
“Yes, we can’t wait until we get to a point where it’s like that throughout, but when you start our game has to be a bit harder than that – to just come in and be perfect every day. We have to have someone on the other side of the ball to not allow that to happen. What I saw today, I felt like today was our most competitive day we have had, both sides of the ball. Normally it gets that way. Once you get a little closer to the goal line it normally picks up a little bit. Working down in the red zone area did that today for us.”
 
(On the amount of dropped passes throughout training camp)
[“I just wonder how you kind of make that type of statement. More drops than before? I wish I could keep up with it like that.] That might be, but I would say every day you are going to have some drops. One is too many. I don’t think it’s any more than what you would normally have. You have to look at who is dropping too. Right now we are not Tennessee ready. We’re not Minnesota Vikings ready yet. As it goes along I still see improvement that they are making daily.”
 
(On dropped passes by the defense)
“Again, one drop is too many. A receiver and offensive guys normally will get another opportunity. You don’t know when the opportunity is going to come on the defensive side. That’s a bad thing especially for (linebacker) Lavonte (David). Lavonte David is as good as there is. Believe me, he should be a five-plus interception linebacker every year and he will. He has excellent hands and all of that. The linebackers group, when you have a couple of drops, you stay out there a little bit and work on it. They’re trying to correct a flaw right now”
 
(On if the undrafted rookie receivers are being noticed and if he will keep six or more receivers on the 53-man roster)
“As a coach, you would like to make that statement for all positions where you have many guys and you want to like all of them and how hard the decision is at the end. I think receiver-wise is probably the one group that can make you wonder a little bit more, because more balls are being thrown at them. You see them finish more plays. All of our receivers, there have been days when we’ve come in as a staff and have talked about just about all of them. Now, what separates them? What is the difference between them? What are you doing on specials teams? Are you a returner? We have about three or four doing that. Yeah, we like the progress of all of our receivers.”
 
(On if it gets frustrating when a young player doesn’t reach his potential as quick as a coach would like)
“Yeah, whenever you have a setback it’s frustrating. You are looking at the big picture though. We’ve talked about (tight end) Austin (Seferian-Jenkins) since he got here – about his potential, what we think he will be and every day he is on the field he confirms that more. Again you just look at the league, how many tight ends can block and like doing it and do it well that can catch the ball – catch the ball on the inside or outside, great attitude. (There’s) not a whole lot to dislike about Austin. We have big plans for him.”
 
(On Seferian-Jenkins’ ability to get open)
“What is his height and weight again? He should and he is bigger than most of the people he going to play against. Once he is in coverage, how many 6’7 linebackers are there? I mean 6’5 linebackers, you just go down.”
 
(On Seferian-Jenkins run blocking ability)
“As I talk about the Y, in-line, true tight end that can do it all, yes. In-line, yesterday or the day before, good job pass protection, going against the linebackers and different guys. I think anything you ask him to do or ask a tight end to do he can do it well.”
 
(On if linebacker Kwon Alexander has shown a lot in the first week of training camp)
“Yes he has. We liked him, of course, since draft day. He’ll hit. He’s anxious. He’s a hard worker. Again, there is not a whole lot to dislike about him. As a linebacker you need the reps, experience. That’s what it’s about for him, to get as many reps as you possibly can. That’s what he’s doing, right on schedule. Again, this preseason game coming up (will be) good for him to see when we let players actually finish an awful lot of plays. I think we’re going to like what we see from him.”
 
(On Winston’s ability to be efficient with spreading the ball around)
“That’s what we brought him in here to do. We talk about improvement from a lot of guys and we’ve seen that from Jameis (He’s getting) more and more comfortable. As we talk about a linebacker, as a rookie in general it’s about being out there getting as many reps as you possibly can right now. That’s what he is doing – working with different people. Working with the guys also that he’ll be throwing to this year. There is an awful lot that goes into what we are asking him to do and he is picking it up. (Quarterbacks Coach) Mike Bajakian is doing a super job with him. Of course (Offensive Coordinator) Dirk (Koetter). We want to have flexibility with our offense and be balanced. Part of that balancing in the passing game is spreading it around.”
 
(On Gerald McCoy’s positive effect on the team, even on days when he isn’t practicing)
“When you’re the leader of the team, it doesn’t matter whether you practice or not. There’s a role for you. Sometimes that role shifts you more to player-coach. He has a lot of knowledge and, also, when you’re a great player, or just a player in general, when you’re not going, you can learn an awful lot by just sitting and watching too. Gerald wants to know more and more about the overall defense too, so these days help him do that.”
 
(On the team’s cornerbacks, including last year’s starters, Johnthan Banks and Alterraun Verner)
“We like both of them, what they’ve both done. You’re right – it’s about the overall position. That’s why we really like what Mike Jenkins has done. Of course, I think we talked yesterday about Sterling Moore and some of the plays he’s made. Then we have a couple young players coming up too. As we talk about the receivers and having opportunities, if a receiver has an opportunity, of course the DBs (defensive backs) do (as well). We’re getting a good evaluation of them.”
 
(On safety D.J. Swearinger)
“Smart player, high I.Q., Wonderlic test and all that good stuff – he gets it. He’s a hitter too. His strong suit is more in the box than back deep. Of course we got a taste of it, but he’s been good, been one of the guys that since we got him here, they’re in a hard completion – talking about the safety position.”
 
(On the safety competition and how the team evaluates players that aren’t practicing, like Chris Conte)
“When you’re not practicing, of course, it’s harder, but we do have some experience with him. Since you know an awful lot about him and you don’t know about some of the other players. This is a good thing. We’re going to need all the safeties that we think can play in the end. They’ll all have a role.”
 
(On moving Matthew Masifilo from defensive tackle to offensive lineman)
“I’m going to say (it was) a staff decision. As we’re looking at it, we had some guys we liked on the defensive side and maybe Matt wasn’t quite what you were looking for at that position, but all the other things you loved. Nobody works harder – he’s strong, tough, smart. He’s not the first defensive lineman to make that adjustment, so it’s not surprising what he’s being able to do. In the offseason, you’re not doing anything, so really he’s only had about a week to show us. Yesterday, of course, was his best day, against good players, (we) are very pleased with what he’s done. You just continue to give the guys reps and they kind of show you what you need to know.”
 
(On how the team has performed relative to the expectations he had entering camp)
“We have high expectations for our team, how we’re going to work, of putting this all together, coming together. I’ve loved the work we’ve been able to get throughout, right up (to) today. Thought the guys competed hard, nobody’s complaining, we don’t have guys being late behind the scenes – they’re being professionals, which we’re pleased with. We’re pleased (that) everything we’ve asked them to do, they’ve done up to this point.”
 
WIDE RECEIVER VINCENT JACKSON
 
(On rookie WR Rannell Hall)
"Rannell's done a great job. I really like our whole entire rookie crew. It's going to be very competitive, obviously, once we get into preseason games, the lights come on and we see how these guys perform and react to things on the fly. But so far, I'm just thoroughly impressed with the guys we brought in; the depth we're going to have is really going to make us stronger."
 
(On the team's level of enthusiasm)
"I'm loving it. The new guys we got in are really flying around, the offensive system we've got in has been so balanced, explosive. We're running the ball better than we did last year already. So it's fun. We're excited to finish up training camp strong, get to the real show and see what we can do."
 
(On wanting to get back to the playoffs)
"Absolutely. I couldn't be hungrier. This is exciting. It's a breath of fresh air in this whole building, the fans are out here, they're excited about, the buzz is in the air and we're ready to make a change."
 
(On if the red zone drill went well for the offense)
"It did, it did. Today was a big focus on the red zone, the 30-yard line going in, high red zone as well. It looked really well for us on offense. The defense is making some adjustments and running through some different things. We didn't win every rep, but it's good to know that when you get down there you're going to come away with some points."
 
(On scoring in a variety of ways)
"We're going to be explosive. We've got big guys that can stretch the field on the outside, and we also switch it up and put big guys on the inside and make it hard on those linebackers and safeties as well. That's what's beautiful about this offense: As dynamic as we're going to be, it's not going to be where defenses are just expecting jump balls on the outside. We're going to make it tough for them crossing the field as well."
 
(On his role as a leader for the younger players)
"It's lead by example. I've always been the same way. I come into this camp just like I'm one of those rookies. I come out here, I hustle through every fundamental drill and treat it like it's the most important practice to me, and they see that. I bring that energy and that positivity, and that's the best way for me to lead. Obviously, sharing some knowledge in the meeting rooms and the classroom with the some of the guys, some things that they can do better, but besides that it's just coming out here, having some fun with the guys and leading by example."
 
(On what Jameis Winston needs from Jackson)
"From myself, just to be a threat. Be there for him, be a sounding board. If he has questions, if there's things he's seen on the field that maybe I might be able to help him with, a coverage or a rotation or something like that, I'm going to be there for him. He's shown a lot of maturity. He's picking things up super-quick. Everything we've put on his plate, he gets better and better every practice, and that's what you want to see. Is he a young guy, is he a rookie? Of course. We're all going to make mistakes, but at the same time he's competitive. He gets right back and wants to win the next play, and that's exciting."
 
(On if Winston is a football junkie)
"He is, he really is. In the meeting rooms, he wants to go through every single, he wants to go through every cadence. He might even do more than the coaches are asking him to do, but that's good. He's hungry and he wants to be great, and that's all you can ask from a leader."
 
(On if there is anything he can't do now that he could do when he was 25)
"Absolutely not. I feel as good as I did six, seven years ago. It's a blessing. I've been healthy and lucky, but at the same time I've put in a lot of work as well. I'm just going to continue to get better, condition my body and get through another long season ahead."
 
CORNERBACK ALTERRAUN VERNER
 
(On what it’s like to defend against Tampa Bay’s large wide receivers in the red zone)
“It’s tough because, the first thing you think of is jump-ball situations, but that’s not the only route that they can run down there. They can go (on) slants, pick routes, crossing routes like you saw today that they were catching a lot of. So it’s tough, but it makes you have to play honest and makes you prepare, because we have a lot of big guys in our division, a lot of big guys we are going to see, so it’s good work.”
 
(On practicing healthy following injuries last season)
“It feels good. I was done second day last year, so it’s definitely just been way better just being able to do things and just get a better feel for things, kind of testing my limits here and there: can I jump this, can I jump that? OK, I can. And just working with the teammates and just seeing how everybody works together instead of me just doing it on the run last year. So it’s been good and I have been feeling like I’ve been getting back into the form that I’m used to being, that I’m accustomed to, but I’ve still got some ways to go. I’m still leaving some plays out there, so I’ve got to still make them.”
 
(On the cornerback tandem of himself and Johnthan Banks)
“I like us. I like us against anybody. Johnthan just steadily is improving. He’s very coachable, he has great ball skills and he just has the size and, to me, the speed to guard anybody. So I like it. I think we push each other. We’re already talking about who is going to get the most interceptions this year and I told him I’m not going to make it easy and he looked back and me and was like, ‘Well, you know I’m not going to make it easy either.’ So I love it. We’re competitors and we’re trying to get better every day.”
 
(On the leadership of defensive tackle Gerald McCoy)
“That’s just the character guy he is. I think you’ve seen him all over the place in the offseason saying 2-14 is not good enough and he means that. You can just tell by his work ethic, his hard work. He does it a lot by example. He’s not going to be a big rah-rah guy, but you can just tell when a guy is like that to working – I mean, all-star, all-everything. He comes out here every day just working. You have nothing (to do) but to feed off of that. So, I mean, I love it. He’s a big reason why I wanted to come here anyway and he hasn’t let me down yet.”
 
(On the development of quarterback Jameis Winston)
“I like him. He’s a gunslinger, you can see that he’s making progress here and there. I mean, he’s going to make rookie mistakes; he’s a rookie so he’s going to make mistakes. It’s no sense of panicking if he throws a pick or has a bad read. I look at it more like he’s trying to see what he can and can’t do, because this game is different from college ball. So he might be used to doing it in college and now he’s starting to realize, at least now, that he might not be able to do it instead of him learning Week 1 when it counts. So I like him. I don’t feel like he’s ever rattled or shaken up. I’ve seen him make bad play, bad play, and then bomb, bomb. I like his poise and I’ve liked what I’ve seen. I can’t wait to see him in the preseason when the lights are on. I know he’s going to do something special. But I like what I see so far.”
 
(On the depth in the cornerback position)
“It’s big. I mean, Mike (Jenkins) was going to be a strong player for us last year and it was unfortunate he got hurt in that first regular season game. He has a tenacity. He’s been playing a long time at a high level and he can still move like he’s 19 years old out there. It’s been good. And then Sterling (Moore) coming over, I mean, you see the types of plays he’s been making. Day in and day out, he’s bringing that mentality that he came from, like the Cowboys and Patriots, that winning mentality. He knows what it takes to get there. So I like it. We’re all pushing each other. Nobody’s slacking out here and that’s what I love about it. We’re all trying to play, all four of us, five of us, we’re all trying to play and you see that out there, that everyone’s trying to make a play.”
 
 
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