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Rick Stroud, Greg Auman and Matt Baker

Bucs players say they need break to 'get our minds right'



Just as the Bucs had a short turnaround Thursday with only four days between home losses to the Raiders and Falcons, they have 10 days before a home game against the Bears, and part of that is a long weekend away from football tryiing to reset as they try to bounce back from two frustrating losses.

"Hopefully this weekend, we get our minds right, get it together and fix whatever we need to fix and get back to action," David said Thursday after a 43-28 loss. "Guys are trying. The only think is getting to try harder. That's all there is to it. We're going to take this weekend to regroup, get back on Monday with an extra day to fix whatever needs to be fixed, get back to the drawing board. Things are going to change."

Defensive tackle Gerald McCoy said the back-to-back losses after the team had gotten consecutive road wins at Carolina and San Francisco to get to 3-3 call for some "soul searching" by Bucs players during the weekend off.

"We've got to take these three days off and evaluate ourselves, do some soul-searching individually," McCoy said. "I'm not pointing fingers, saying it's this or it's that. Everybody has to look at themselves, see what they can do better to bring to this team. So the next few days really need to be a break. We need the rest. We need to reload. Something has to change."

While much of the burden for the two losses has been placed on the Bucs defense, tackle Demar Dotson was frustrated by a number of penalties called against the Bucs offensive line early in Thursday's game, negating gains and backing up the offense when the Bucs were still competing and even leading against the Falcons.

"There's no magic solution," Dotson said. "I wish there was. We just have to keep working. That's the only thing that's going to fix this. We can't quit. We're 3-5, halfway through this, eight games to go. We have to keep fighting."

The Bucs enter the weekend ranked 28th in the NFL in total defense and 29th in scoring defense, down from 10th and 26th last season from a unit that played a large role in the firing of head coach Lovie Smith. Bucs rookie cornerback Vernon Hargreaves said that halfway through the season, this is a defense that still needs to establish its identity.

"We've got to figure out who we are," Hargreaves said. "We have to figure out who we are as a defense, who we want to be and how we want to finish this season. It's just like life. Sometimes you're up in life, sometimes you're down. Right now we're down and we need to figure it out. It's no secret. It is what it is. We're going to figure it out."

Bucs linebacker Kwon Alexander leads the defense with 72 tackles and is among the NFL leaders in solo tackles, but he too has missed his share of tackles as part of a defense with consistent miscommunication issues, leading to big plays, especially through the air.

"I don't know what to say. S--- has to change. Things will change. I know y'll are tired of hearing me saying this," Alexander said. "Nothing should get us down. You're always supposed to have faith. We're going to rally together as a brotherhood. We need to come together as one."

David's role has changed in the Bucs defense this season, and after not only leading the team in tackles in each of his first four seasons but leading by at least 35 tackles, he's now third on the team and on pace for 88 tackles, a 40 percent drop from last year's 147,

"I feel like I'm a part of what's going on," David said of the team's defensive struggles. "I'm not the only one who should feel like that."

[Last modified: Sunday, November 6, 2016 9:31am]


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