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12 March 2015

Transcript: Tampa Bay Free Agency Press Conference 3/12/15 - S Chris Conte & DT Henry Melton

DEFENSIVE TACKLE HENRY MELTON
 
(Opening statement)
“Just excited to be here. Ready to turn this thing around. That’s about it.”
 
(On if he hurt his knee last season)
“At the end of last year I did. I’m cleared and ready to go.”
 
(On if prior success with Lovie Smith in Chicago was part of what brought him to Tampa)
“Yeah, I mean, me and Lovie, he brought me in when I was a converted running back and saw me and groomed me. Him and (Dallas Cowboys defensive coordinator) Rod Marinelli groomed me into a pretty dominant under tackle and as soon as he heard that I might hit the market he was definitely one of the first people to get in contact and I came out here and I had to make it happen.”
 
(On what attracted him to Tampa other than Coach Smith)
“A lot of things honestly. The system – I already know the system and what it demands. I know a lot of the guys here from going down to the trainers to all the way up to the head coach so that made it a pretty easy decision.”
 
(On if getting to play with All-Pro defensive tackle Gerald McCoy was another deciding factor)
“Oh, of course. Me and Gerald became pretty good friends at the Pro Bowl a couple years ago and we always kept in contact. We talked then about, I was about to be a free agent then, and we talked about joining forces (then), but it didn’t work out. But we had an opportunity to make it happen and he texted me and we’ve been texting and he was really excited to hear the news.”
 
(On why he chose to sign a one-year contract)
“I just wanted to really show what I can do again. I still got some juice and I just wanted to come here and help turn this thing around and prove I can get it done.”
 
(On safety Chris Conte)
“Yeah, that’s my buddy over there. I always talked to Chris and even when we were in Chicago, I liked being his friend because I knew he was a hard-nosed guy. He’s not going to shy away from contact. And he’s a playmaker. When he first came in, he’s been starting ever since and this was a great pickup for the Bucs.”
 
(On how the Dallas Cowboys defense performed well in the 2014 season after struggling in 2013)
“Just a lot of heart. We definitely didn’t have all the big name guys or big offseason signings or anything crazy like that. We just went to work and it started the first day of group workouts. I came and joined them and they were talking about, ‘We’re going to turn it around, it’s not going to happen again.’ We believed that all the way through.”
 
(On his impressions of the Buccaneers before signing with the team)
“Honestly, I thought they were a good team. It’s just how football is. We had a few games in Chicago I remember where, a couple games can go your way or they can’t. If you have some guys to finish it off and if you find some guys to make that last play at the end, that’s what’s going to be the key. I saw a lot of potential in this team and they’re real close. They kept telling me they lost a lot of games by a few points. And that’s how it is. Everyone is trying to win games in this league and everyone’s good. So if we get some more of those wins that they missed out on last year, I think we’ll be in good shape.”
 
(On why players seem to want to play for Coach Smith)
“He’s just a great guy. He not going to yell at you – well, he might yell at you but he’s not going to cuss at you or say anything foul to your face. He’s blunt and he’s going to get straight to the point. I grew really close with him when I was in Chicago. When he got fired there, I shed a tear. We embraced each other and he said, ‘You never know what’s going to happen. We might meet up down the road.’ So here we are.”
 
(On if Coach Smith has changed since he was in Chicago)
“No, he’s the same old guy. When we started talking on the phone, when we could, it was the same spiel. And I’m excited to work with him.”
 
(On linebacker Bruce Carter)
“Bruce is a good friend also. We were on the same flight from Dallas. We didn’t even know where each other was going. We just saw each other at the airport and we were like, ‘You going to Tampa?’ He was like, ‘Yeah,’ I was like, ‘Oh, cool, let’s do this.’ We talked about it then. He knows I can play, I know he can play and it’s always good to know that whoever’s behind you can get in that gap and play.”
 
(On if there were other Dallas Cowboys on the flight to Tampa)
“No. But I think (cornerback) Sterling (Moore) is coming today.”
 
(On if he has played nose tackle)
“It’s not my position, but I can do it. Just from when I first came in, trying to find my spot in the rotation, I had to play every position. I had to play some end this year for Dallas a couple of games. I just get in where I fit in and if they say they need someone to work on this guy and I think you have a favorable matchup here, I do it.”
 
SAFETY CHRIS CONTE
 
(On defensive tackle Henry Melton)
“Well, obviously Henry was there in Chicago when I came in as a rookie and I just remember him immediately kind of taking me aside and he was just a guy that kind of looked after me when I first got there and we became close, became friends. He’s a guy that’s going to give everything he has on the field. He’s going to rush the passer so it makes my job a lot easier.”
 
(On his role with Tampa Bay)
“I intend to come in and compete and play free safety and be the starter.”
 
(On how healthy he feels)
“It’s a contact sport, so injuries happen, but I’m 100-percent healthy now and I’m going to do everything I can to stay healthy. And a lot of that happens in the offseason with preparing, lifting, just being a smarter football player about the way I hit people, too. So I’ll do everything I can to prevent injuries but I also have to realize that it’s a part of the game, so it comes with the sport.”
 
(On why he chose to sign a one-year contract)
“First off, I’m just very appreciative of the opportunity to come here and Coach Smith believing in me and all the coaches believing in me. It’s a great opportunity for me. It’s a defense that I know, that I can come in and be effective right away. It’s an opportunity for me to play fast. I don’t have to learn a new system. And I’m just going to do everything I can to get on the field and improve myself and I think the one-year deal for me is an ability to do that and show these coaches that I belong here and deserve to be paid like a top guy eventually.”
 
(On how he can contribute to the defense)
“This defense allows me to play free safety, play the middle of the field a lot, which has kind of become what I do. I love playing the middle of the field and being able to break on the ball and make plays. That’s the name of the game for me – interceptions. The more I can touch the ball, be effective and take away the middle of the field, that’s what I want to do and that’s how I feel I can contribute to this defense.”
 
(On how his familiarity with the players and staff on this team helped influence his decision to sign here)
“Even me and (Tampa Bay cornerback) Alterraun Verner, we grew up together. So talking with him it’s almost like a dream come true to come play for these guys. Just the relationships that I have with Coach Smith, with (cornerbacks coach) Coach Gill Byrd, it’s something that you don’t come across every day. Going back to high school, college, these are special people that you don’t come across and they make you want to play harder for them and I knew once they left Chicago that I was going to do everything I could to play for them again. And once this opportunity arose I would be stupid not to jump at it.”
 
(On if he would wear No. 47, which was worn by former All-Pro Buccaneers safety John Lynch)
“Don’t worry, I’ll be changing that. It’s time for a fresh start, I’m looking forward to a fresh start and that’s what this is for me. So 47 will not be worn by me in Tampa Bay.”
 
(On if Lynch was an influence)
“Yeah, besides the obvious similarities, he’s a hell of a player. That’s exactly what he is. I don’t think we’re similar players. The style of player he is, I’m more of a middle of the field player but he’s an awesome player, a Hall of Famer. You can’t say enough about that guy. But I want to create my own identity here and do my own thing. I don’t need to live in that shadow.”
 
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