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08 June 2017

Transcript: Tampa Bay Buccaneers 2017 OTA Media Availability (6/8/17)

Below is a selection of Tampa Bay Buccaneers quotes from today’s earlier media availability:
Head Coach Dirk Koetter
Tight End Cameron Brate
Wide Receiver Mike Evans
(On if he actually likes having rainy practices from time to time)
"Yeah. No, it's good for us. We had it a couple times early in the season. Preseason [and] that first game down in Miami – I've been in several games in Miami where it's wet. It's hard to get good work in wet weather. The field – even though our fields are tremendous – guys have to wear different shoes, handling the wet ball, quarterback-center exchange, all the ball-handling. It makes it a little bit sloppy at times but it's actually good for us, I think, in the long run."
(On wide receiver Derel Walker)
"Derel's doing well. He did very well in Canada. Of course he played at Texas A&M with Mike [Evans]. He's going to be in a battle for those last couple wideout spots. We're so much deeper at wide receiver than we have been in the past; that's one of the many competitions that we have going on. The first two or three spots are pretty well locked up, but there's really good competition at the bottom of the roster."
(On defensive end Ryan Russell)
"He's looked really good. He's missed a little bit of time with a little bit of a soft-tissue injury, but since he's been back – Ryan is long and deceivingly strong, and very fast off the ball. Ryan's a good pass-rusher. The second half of last year we got a good feel for how he could fit in with our group. Nobody talks about him because he never talks. It's hard to get that guy to say a word, but we're excited about him."
(On guard J.R. Sweezy and if he likes what he sees from the offensive line)
"First off, for both the O-Line and the D-Line, the way the rules are set up here, it's just difficult because they can't really do what they do. Most of their work is over there in the corner against the sleds and the bags. When people say we didn't address the [offensive] line, the fact that J.R. was out all last year, I mean we were real excited about what J.R. would bring to the group last year. And unfortunately he had to miss [the 2016 season]. J.R., in his 50-something starts in Seattle, [was an] extremely physical player. For our fans that haven't seen him, he's a bigger, stronger version of Joe Hawley, the way he plays. I know our fans like the way Joe plays; I think they're going to like the way J.R. plays as well. I think he's going to bring a physical presence to the center of our line."
(On cornerback Javien Elliott making plays in practice)
"Javien always makes plays. Javien's a guy that came here as a tryout player last year and ended up starting a couple games for us. What you just said right there – what the coaches notice is, every single day 35 [Elliott] makes a play or two. He's just one of those guys. He knows what to do and how to do it and he shows up and makes plays."
(On the relationship between tight ends O.J. Howard and Cam Brate)
"I don't know the to answer that."
(On if he has seen Brate take Howard under his wing)
"I think Cam, somewhat, but really the guy that does a great job in that tight end room as a mentor is Luke Stocker. Luke's one of the elder statesmen on our team, and I think he looks after both Cam and O.J. You can see that Cam's playing with a lot of confidence. As far as the offense goes, Cam's probably the most consistent player throughout OTAs, but Luke's the leader in that room."
(On if he could have said the same thing about Brate last year)
"No. Cam, I think experience breeds confidence, successful experience especially."
(On the indoor facility being built beyond the practice fields)
"Yeah, what is that? What is that? We almost went out there. Yesterday we had to change our whole schedule around because of the rain and I was talking to ‘Smitty’ [Defensive Coordinator Mike Smith], talking to some of the coaches. It's going to be so nice when we can not disrupt – especially in the season; at this time of the year we've got some flexibility – but in a season it's going to be so nice to be able to stay right on, walk out there and get our practice done. We are thankful, to say the least."
(On cornerback Ryan Smith having another interception in practice)
"We're looking for Ryan to – Ryan's got a major role we need him to fill for us. Ryan's had his ups and downs. We were excited about him, he went through a two or three-day period where he thought he was in a little bit of a funk, but that's two [good] days in a row. He had a beautiful interception in the red zone yesterday and that [one today] would have been a pick-six. No one's going to catch him. I was giving him a hard time right there, asking him if he could outrun the quarterback and the center and he just laughed. We knew he could. That was a good play by him."
(On if the third cornerback/slot cornerback jobs could be an interesting battle in training camp)
"Well, right now the way it's looking those might be two different positions. Third outside corner and slot corner might end up being two different positions, with a couple guys playing both. Jude [Adjei-Barimah] and Bobby Mac – Robert McClain – can play both spots. Ryan's primarily playing outside, not inside. And then Javien Elliott, you can throw him into the mix there, too; he can play both spots. Who's going to be the third corner, who's going to be the nickel corner? It should be a good competition."
(On if he likes the talent the Buccaneers have at cornerback)
"Well, heck, I like all 90 [players]. That doesn't mean that we're exactly where we need to be."
(On how wide receiver Mike Evans can get even better)
"Yeah, well, 'better' – think about, for the people that were here two years ago, two years ago Mike had a 1,000-plus-yard season but he also had too many drops. He really brought his drop number down. Mike is a guy that the defense has to honor, and a lot of defenses that we see, they double him. It's going to be harder to double Mike when we have better players around him, better players and more explosive players in the other spots. I'm not sure from a numbers standpoint, but Mike's confidence is at an all-time high. Two years ago, I didn't think he and Jameis had great chemistry between them – I'm not talking about as people, just on the field – and that's come so far. That was on display a little bit today. I think Mike, like a lot of our guys, the main goal is to win, not create stats. The goal is to win games."
(On if quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick has the inside track on the backup quarterback job)
"No, not necessarily. He's got the experience factor, that's for sure, but Ryan Griffin's had a really good offseason. He's throwing the ball tremendous. We'll see how it plays out. We love Fitzpatrick's experience. He's been here three weeks where Griffin's been here two-and-a-half years. That's another good battle."
(On how he feels about the team after the last week of OTAs)
"Well, I think we're probably about where we should be, not too high, not too low. You've got to temper everything this time of year because you're playing in shorts. I mean, you're playing in shorts. There's a lot of plays that might look a certain way, even to me, and then you get up there on the tape and [say], 'Uh, that would have been a sack,' or, 'That would have been a holding call,' or, 'Somebody's doing the wrong thing.' We've got a long way to go but it's a process and all you can do is work on it every day. We're doing that. I think we're getting better but I think every team's probably getting better right now. We're not where we need to be."
(On his confidence throughout OTAs)
“Yeah, I mean, it helps to be confident. Obviously, kind of with the year I was able to have last year, just looking to kind of build off of that and use what I learned last year, the successes and the failures, learn from those too. So, I think collectively as an offense, we’re all playing pretty confidently. It starts with Jameis [Winston]. He does a great job inspiring us every day. I think overall as an offense, we all play with a lot of confidence.”
(On whether he feels like he must raise his game with tight end O.J. Howard now on the roster)
“Not really. I kind of just try to focus on myself, but it’s been awesome having O.J. in the tight end room and out on the field with us. He brings a lot to the table, a lot to our offense. He is doing an unbelievable job of picking up on everything. You guys see him out there. He is making plays every day. So, it’s been a lot of fun playing with him.”
(On his relationship with O.J. Howard)
“It’s a strong relationship, probably one word is strong. I try to help him out. Any time you come into a new offensive system, there is new terminology, small nuances in the offense that are hard to pick up on. So, me and Luke [Stocker] have been trying to take him under our wing I guess you would say and kind of helping him with that stuff. He’s done a great job, he’s always staying after, asking us questions and he’s been a great teammate so far.”
(On his role this year in comparison to past years)
“It’s pretty much the same. I’ve been a leader since I’ve been here along with ‘V-Jax’ [Vincent Jackson] and then ‘V-Jax’ got hurt earlier in the season last year. I was able to lead the guys, they’re older than me, but I’ve got more experience. We’ve got a lot of capable guys and it’s been fun with ‘D-Jax’ [DeSean Jackson] as well. He’s an experienced player and he brings a lot of swag and he’s fun to be around too.”
(On cornerback Vernon Hargreaves’ growth)
“In OTAs, I’ve noticed that he’s talking more. At first, he was real quiet. He’s talking more, he’s showing out, he’s making plays. He looks real good.”
(On the additions on offense opening up the field for him next season)
“I’m going to be happy when I see it. Teams don’t do a good job of disguising - last year they didn’t - double teaming. I would see the safety over there, it would be one safety and he would be shaded to my side and I would get a lot of two-man and busted coverage. This year, if they do that, that’s fine with me because we have a lot of weapons that Jameis [Winston] can work with.”

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