Morris goes out of his way to thank fans
Even before he took a question from the media, Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Raheem Morris opened today's news conference with an unsolicited thank-you to the fans who attended Sunday's 17-14 win over the Cleveland Browns.
The game, the first in the history of Raymond James Stadium to be blacked out locally, drew an announced crowd (paid attendance) of 47,211. But the actual turnstile number, or the number of fans who passed through the gates, was 41,544 -- about 24,000 short of capacity.
"The 40 or so thousand in attendance yesterday were very loud,'' Morris said. "That was an awesome environment. I thought our fans did a great job. They were the 54th man that last couple of minutes down there and really holding (the Browns) in the backed-up situation and really just firing up our defense to go out there and get those stops down there at the end of that game. Our fans were unbelieveable yesterday. I just wanted to bring that up.''
More from the news conference:
+ Quarterback Josh Freeman had no ill effects from the broken thumb that sidelined him for the final two-plus exhibition games.
"No setbacks for Free,'' Morris said. "He's exactly where he is. We'll keep our plan for him. We'll figure out how much he practices, but I know he'll be out there on Wednesday. We'll figure out how many snaps he takes in practice, actual live ones. You've got to maintenance his thumb, and there's no doubt about it, we will.''
+ Morris said suspended cornerback Aqib Talib was the first person to call him with congratulations after the game.
"He was all fired up, he was jacked up for what his team was able to do,'' Morris said.
Talib was suspended one game for violating the NFL's personal conduct policy stemming from his assault on a cab driver in August 2009. With him set to return this week, the Bucs will have to make a roster decision Tuesday.
+ Defensive tackle Gerald McCoy, the Bucs' first-round draft pick, ''looked good'' in his NFL regular-season debut, Morris said.
"He started the game off with a big tackle for loss,'' Morris said. "He gave us great pass rush in those two-minute situations. He really looked stout against the run. ... He just was very productive and he was around the ball and he was around piles all day, which is awesome.''
+ Wide receiver Maurice Stovall was inactive in order to give him more time to recover from an ankle injury sustained during the preseason. He is expected to return to the practice field on Wednesday.
"We decided to give Mo another week to give him another chance to get healthier and get better,'' Morris said.
+ Morris played coy when asked whose idea it was to have tight end Kellen Winslow be introduced last and carry a Bucs flag onto the field. Winslow, a former Brown, appeared to take particular pleasure in waving the flag in front of the Cleveland bench.
"Winslow's got to come out last when you're playing the Cleveland Browns, and Winslow is a highly motivated guy,'' Morris said. "We love him around here.''
Asked whether it was Morris' idea, the coach smiled and said, "We have discussions over these things.''
+ Morris further explained what he meant when he said after the game that the win "means absolutely nothing'' in relation to the Bucs' long-term goals.
"That's completely taken out of context,'' he said. "This team is not going to take a bow for a win, but they're not gonna take a backseat either. We really enjoy the wins, and you want to get them, but we're not gonna get our first win and get all giddy and get all excited. ... Our job is to go get better and get ready for our next opponent.''