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Rick Stroud, Greg Auman and Matt Baker

Tuesday's Tampa Bay Buccaneers training camp quotes

11

August

Tuesday's Tampa Bay Buccaneers training camp quotes, courtesy of the Bucs:

HEAD COACH RAHEEM MORRIS
(On practice)

"Today we emphasized a little more red zone. You guys know the stat that we're looking for when we're searching for how productive we want to be in the red zone. If we can make that thing come alive we can be a pretty good football team. We did some short-yardage and some goal-line. It would be easy when you're a young head coach and you've got a couple nicks on your team – you're worried about people, you're getting close to the game – not to go live, but I chose to go live anyway. This group's a pretty tough group. You've got to love how they're practicing, you've got to love how they're going out and competing. The defense stood up again on goal line. They looked tough again. Maybe it's a credit to some of those young D-linemen, maybe it's a discredit to some of our young offensive linemen. I've got to look at the tape and find it out, but the defense looked good in the goal-line period down there. Had a little no-huddle offense. We've talked about changing the tempo. Today we had most of our runs installed; a couple passes but not as many as you would like to see when you go in no-huddle, when you're trying to dictate the tempo. Again, we talked about it earlier, embracing the heat down here. If we can get out here, if we can feel comfortable going out in that type of menacing heat right there – because it was menacing today – and call the no-huddle offense…you come in here, you're from another place and you've got to be ready to deal with that? That's tough duty for people. If we can embrace that, if we can get that thing going, if we can start to run the football, start to wear some people down, use the elements to our advantage, I love that thought."

(On injuries)
"Antonio Bryant – successful surgery this morning. Went down there and got it done. Everything was right on schedule, what we talked about yesterday: Three weeks. You know, probably could be back for the fourth [preseason] game. Don't know. You might want to get a little test run to see what he can do. Other than that, we had D[errick] Ward back. He was up and running. [Jeremy] Trueblood will be back this afternoon; he's ready to go. The new injuries: Geno Hayes got a mild hammy yesterday at the end of practice, came in a little sore this morning. We held him, so maybe he'll go this afternoon; not sure. Right now he's just day-to-day. We've got to keep evaluating Geno a little bit. Matt Bryant today was the only real new one in practice today. He kind of strained that hamstring a little bit, kind of left after his field goal period. That's the only thing that's new there."

(On practicing at the stadium)
"On Thursday we're going over to the stadium. Brand-new staff, brand-new players, brand-new team, brand-new head coach. We've got to get used to going into the stadium, going through our communications systems, having guys go up into the box, who's talking to who, who's talking to what? We're going to have a little pregame practice, see what's going on, where you go out, when you go out, what position goes out? All the big stuff you would do on a game day, we don't want the first time we do it to be on Saturday so we're going to go out there and do it a little bit for ourselves. We're going to go out there and have pretty much a regular practice after that, but it's going to be done from the box. The calls and stuff are going to be over the headsets instead of using the walkie-talkies right next to each other. We'll be doing it from the box. You'll see some of the coordinators up in the box, you'll see the guys going up in the box on defense and we'll get that thing rolling right along."

(On the receiver position behind the starters)
"You've got a lot of young guys that you really don't know, the Brian Clarks of the world. Again, this Sammie Stroughter kid that keeps popping up every day, to talk about him. Mario Urrutia, Mo [Stovall] – these guys keep making plays. They've got to get to the game and they've got to do it, which they haven't done at this point. We don't have another guy on the field that's caught that many balls [as Antonio Bryant or Michael Clayton]. These guys have just got to go out and play. They've all got talent, they've all been here for awhile, they've all been through practice, they've all been through the hunt. You talk about the guy making his way up from the 53 spot to make his way into the rotation – Brian Clark is definitely another example of that. Mo Stovall, he's been up and down with injuries. Hopefully this is the year where he snaps out of that, comes back, plays strong and becomes a force for us. Drafting the young kid, you feel really excited about him because of his versatility, his route-running ability, his toughness. Now we can get into the games and let him go play a little bit. Last year you could have said the same thing about Antonio Bryant. Who do we have at wideout, then he emerged on the scene. There's going to be a wideout in this league that emerges every year. We've just got to go out and do it. We've got to see if Clayton can make it back, and I think he can. See him come back, see him be productive like he was his rookie year. Just go out and play some football. And then also, when you talk about us, you've got to mention our tight ends when you talk about receiving threats. You've got to mention Kellen Winslow, you've got to mention Jerramy Stevens, with their unique ability to get down the field and stretch people vertically. You've got to add those guys in when you talk about eligible wideouts, eligible receivers and people that can catch the ball and be effective."

(On if the Bucs would be okay without Bryant and Clayton)
"You never want to say you're okay losing your starters. Nobody is. But we've got to be mentally tough and move on. Just like I talked about with injuries from the beginning, it doesn't really matter who it is. It's not going to give anybody an excuse. It's not going to give anybody a reason why we shouldn't do what we're supposed to do. Our job is to win football games and we've got to go out and win them, with whoever's playing."

(On if there is concern about Matt Bryant's injury)
"Obviously, no. I'm sure Matt Bryant has some concern and I'm sure his coach has some concern. We've just got to get into the game and let him kick, get him healthy, let him be ready to play, let him be ready to go out there and compete. He made all the kicks today and he kind of strained it a little bit so he stepped out. We've just got to get him healthy, get him to the games so he can go out there and compete. Usually you don't have two guys. Usually you've got to get somebody off the street right now to come compete with him. So we as an organization are kind of in a fortunate situation but you still want to see Matt Bryant at his very best to let him go compete and let him be his very best."

(On the plan of using both K Matt Bryant and K Mike Nugent)

“I really didn’t. It’s not the same plan with the quarterbacks. It’s just two of those guys, you can kind of do that how you feel. You can do that based on quarters, you can do that based on halves, you can do that however you want to do it. That wasn’t as stressful as the quarterbacks. The quarterbacks you have to kind of have a plan and idea ready to go. With quarterbacks, I knew about that from day one, when you signed a guy. It’s kind of like, Luke [McCown] gets the first one, you get Byron [Leftwich] with the second one, we will see who will be named the starter to play the third, we’re off and running. Whoever steps up for that competition zone, when I say Luke and Byron. Right now that’s probably the two front runners and you have to give them the first two opportunities.”

(On Mike Nugent’s kicking)
“He went down a little bit too [with an injury], he hadn’t kicked as much either. He has a powerful leg, he has nice pop, great kickoff man. He’s a number one draft pick or whatever he was coming out of college from Ohio State. He is impressive, he has great talent. We’ll just have to let him go out there and kick in a game and let him go play.”

(On Sammie Stroughter and Mario Urrutia)
“Since those two have been here, I’ve been talking about Sammie since he walked into the building and how impressed I was with Sammie. I might be hurting myself a little bit talking about him so much. Mario, a guy that has came to us in the past few days, has been impressive as well. You’re talking about another big body that can run down the field, stretch it vertically, reach up and grab some impressive catches. I’m just looking forward to seeing those guys play in a game. Receivers, you really can’t tell until it gets sticky as Coach Mann would say. I want them to go out there and let them hit a little bit, let them bump around.”

(On the quarterbacks without having WR Antonio Bryant on Saturday)
“I don’t think it affects me at all. It’s more about timing, precision, where the ball goes, was it thrown in the right spot, on whether or not that guy makes the play isn’t on the quarterback. The quarterback puts him in position to make the play. I’ve seen guys throw a fair pass to Steve Smith and he runs it 90 yards. Was that a great throw by the quarterback? No. It was a great play by Steve Smith. You can’t judge him on that, you have to judge him on decisions. Did he do the right thing, was the ball in the right spot, did he go through the right progression, did he have a tempo, did he have his offense rolling? A lot of that stuff can be determined on that.”

(On the running back situation)
“I’ve been kind of talking to you about it, but you have to use the Giant format if you’re going to do anything. That was a perfect format, and gave you two thousand yard rushers and a five hundred yard rusher. But it’s all going to depend; sometimes you get a running back that gets into the game and gets hot. You put Earnest Graham out there and he starts rolling, you keep him out there and let him roll. It happens how it happens. I’m not going to make a set appointment on how I want them to play right now. You have to just let them go out there and just play. Put them out there for their situation, for whatever Michael Jordan situation they’re going to be involved in and let them go.”

(On his confidence with Sabby Piscitelli at safety)
“Everybody’s talking about [Jermaine] Phillips move to linebacker and the confidence in Sabby [Piscitelli]. But a lot of the reason was a way to get your three best athletes on your football team on the field. They’re guys that have played and you feel really good about. It’s a way to get Sabby on your field, it’s your second rounder, he played a lot for me last year, ready to go, ready to break out of his shell and become the safety that he could be. With Tanard Jackson back there, they could lead this team for awhile. Then you get a chance to get Phillips and you move him to linebacker because of how well he played in the box at safety. You move him there, you have confidence in Sabby, you move him there because you have confidence in his ability in the box and his ability to move around and cause splash. Create some of that stuff that we lost with some of our other backs we had in the past. The Derrick Brooks like plays, the Cato June interceptions, all the type things you had from when they were up and rolling. You try to create some splash back again, some speed on the field, some run down ability, some tracking ability, and some just overall team speed. I just feel good about both the moves and I can’t wait to see those guys play on Saturday.”

(On Sabby at safety this season)
“With Sabby I’ve always seen all the flashes of brilliance as far as the athleticism, as far as the talent. You always see him at practice jump up and catch a ball and you just go, ‘Wow.’ But what I’ve seen from Sabby this year is his ability to calm down a little more, still a little hyper, we know Sabby. But his ability to calm down a little bit more, and his ability to control the defense, and sometimes he’s really loud and wrong, but right now for the most part he’s loud and right. And he has some confidence, he’s starting to develop. He’s starting to develop communication skills with his other players, and that’s what you like about what you’re seeing from Sabby right now. Whereas last year, me and Sabby would almost have a fight everyday and that kind of got him going. Now I don’t have to have a fight with him, he just kind of gets himself going, and gets out there and talks to his players to get them going.”

(On what Sabby needs to do this season to prove his worth to this team)
“He’s already done it. Last year when he played those last couple of games and he got in there and had his sub opportunities. I think he ended the season with 58 tackles, two interceptions, a couple knockdown passes. That was pretty good work, if we’re talking about a guy who was playing really the third safety, rotating in there, playing special teams full time in really in his first season. If you guys remember his rookie season, he missed every game from probably week four. Really he was a rookie last year, so he really impressed everybody.”

(On the high heat index the last few days and the effect on the players)

“You have to hydrate them, you have to water them down, but you have to embrace it. We can’t wait until the other teams come in here and feel this heat and we have practiced through it and we have been through two and a half hours everyday of it. We want the heat index to be 115. We want it to go as high as it possibly can so we can have some type of advantage. Our trainers do a great job of walking around and constantly hydrating them with cold towels and coming in this great building and getting a nice down time with the 2-1 format. All that stuff has to help them too. A chance to recapture their energy, a chance to re-hydrate and a chance to do all those things to help you. But we have to embrace that heat. I talk to my players about that everyday. I kind of hit them on it after practice today. I’ve seen a couple tongues hanging out. I’ve had a couple guys feel the heat exhaustion. It is tough. It is tough duty. You have to find a way to be mentally tough in the heat and it can be done. I have seen it done. I have seen Derrick Brooks run out there for 13 years with a sweat bag underneath his jersey and pads and I would look at him like he was nuts. And Ronde Barber and all those guys would come out there in long sleeves. They just got mentally tougher than the heat. You can do it. You just really have to lock in and be mentally tough.”

(On battle at QB and what Freeman can expect from the rest of training camp)

“Josh [Freeman] is right in the hunt now. I don’t want to count Josh out at all. The front runners right now I would say are the two older guys because they are getting the most snaps and have both stepped up and have accepted the challenge and have been playing. But Josh is right there. Josh is going to have the opportunity. It is just like we talked about that the other day. When you talk about that third QB or the back up QB, a lot of their reps come mentally. A lot of their reps are based on mental reps. A lot of their reps come from the classroom. A lot of their reps come from when you guys don’t see them and they are out there by themselves throwing the ball in the air and talking to themselves in the mirror delivering the plays to the unit, to the team. He has to go out in this game because he is going to play a lot. No doubt about it. So you have to go out in this game and take control of the huddle and make his moves inside the game and that is possible. So I am looking forward to seeing him do it. I think he is looking forward to doing it. All of these guys want to get out there and play and just go.”

(On where Freeman is at right now)

“You have to say he is doing really well. For a guy to come in here and be able to run the no huddle offense as a rookie and feel comfortable about it and make one or two mistakes but for the most part be pretty sharp. For a guy to come in here and pretty much flip any play you give him. For a guy to come in here and be able to get in behind the center and run the offense in any situation or whatever it is then you have to feel pretty good about that. I have seen quarterbacks that when they started, they didn’t run the two minutes. They did that last year in Arizona. I think Matt Leinart was the starter and Kurt Warner came in there for a while and ran the two minute and then took over all the situations. But this young man is ready to play a game. He is prepared. He is certainly prepared and he can certainly talk about it. Is he going to make mistakes? Yes. There is no doubt about that.”

(On Roy Miller)
“If I was making a decision based on OTA days and I was making a decision based on these couple weeks of camp then you have to say Roy Miller is our third tackle and is going to be in the rotation. And I hope that is true. Not knocking the other guys but he has really stepped up. He has really played well. And he did show up. He shows up everyday. Every time you start talki ng about the grunt work and 9-on-7 and team runs and goal line periods and live periods, you really start to see Roy. You see him run through a bag and you’re not that impressed. It is all fun and games until he puts his hands on you. I just keep thinking about that guy standing in my office with his hands taped up.”

(On Sabby’s influence on Sammie’s character to get a chance)
“I don’t know if he lobbied. I don’t know if you all have met Sammie yet but he is a great kid. He is fun to be around. He is happy. He is always the life of the party. He was the only guy out there I think that didn’t have any problems with the heat. He would take a punching bag and he would run back, yell at Dexter Jackson and grab another one. Then he would go play flyer. Then he would go play receiver. He is all over the reps. It is his personality. I don’t know what the situation was. Obviously I was not there. Sabby did. I remember he would run by me one time and talk about how much he loved Sammie Stroughter when we were going through the drive process because I like Sammie Stroughter on tape and I’m sure a lot of people did too. Anytime you have a situation that he dealt with in college or whatever the situation may be you can scare people off. You have to make your decision whether you’re ready to deal with it. And when I met the kid I just fell in love with him as far as the character, the player and what he can be. It was who he was and he is bringing that to our room. He is just a happy-go-lucky kid as you would want to be. You guys should get a chance to meet him. He is pretty fun.”

(On handling the quarterback reps in the preseason games)
“You want to get Luke [McCown], and again you don’t know how long he is going to play, but you want to get him a good amount of reps. You don’t want to say, ‘Hey, you are going to play the first quarter.’ The first quarter may be three snaps. You never know. You don’t know how that stuff goes. You want to get him a good amount of reps. You have to talk about rep counts. We haven’t decided that yet, but we will sit down as a staff and talk about that, maybe Thursday. How many reps exactly do we want to get him? Then, we will want to come back and give Byron [Leftwich] the same amount of reps. Then after that the guys get the rest that they get down the stretch. Down the stretch in this league, usually starts just after halftime for the most part. Every once in a while you get a rare game where you have six or seven snaps by halftime. That is nice when you are on defense. That is always good. I just have to vary how many reps that we want to play the guys and how many reps we want to get everybody. We will try and get them all repped out.”

(On injuries affecting the first preseason game plan)
“I went out there today and you can go out there everyday as a coach and say, ‘Am I going to do anything live today? No, I bet not. We have a couple nicks and a couple bruises.’ I just go with it. I can’t worry about that. That is a part of being mentally tough. That happens during the season. I just can’t worry about that. Your team has to be mentally tougher than everybody else. There are 80 guys out there trying to make the 53 man roster. I told you guys before, if I do not have 53, then I am going to find 40. If I don’t have 40, then I am going to find 30. Those are going to be the players. We are going to widdle them down to 53 people to go out and win, and that is what we are going to do. I can’t worry about who is not there, who is not coming back. I just can’t. The sky is not falling just because somebody can’t practice or play. The next person has to stand up. These guys are all talented. These guys are all athletic. They all have the opportunity. If somebody goes down, then it just creates an opportunity for someone else.”

[Last modified: Wednesday, May 26, 2010 3:37pm]

    

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