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Buc Quotes & Injury Report, Nov. 29

Posted Nov 29, 2013

Rookie WR Russell Shepard has quietly carved out an important role on special teams, which gives him time to develop as an offensive player...Plus, Darrelle Revis' status and other notes and quotes

STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Russell Shepard has been one of the Bucs' most productive special teams players in 2013
  • CB Darrelle Revis is questionable to play Sunday and will likely be a game-day decision
  • Carolina's injury report lists three running backs as questionable
If you're looking for an unsung hero on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' 2013 roster, consider rookie wide receiver Russell Shepard, who didn't even join the team until seven days before the regular season opener.  Shepard has yet to catch his first NFL pass, but he has nonetheless been a valuable contributor every single week of the season so far.
Shepard went to Louisiana State in 2009 with the hopes of playing quarterback, a position at which he was considered one of the nation's top dual-threat performers as a prep.  He ended up seeing action at three different positions – QB, RB and WR – during his career with the Tigers, finishing with 733 rushing yards and 565 receiving yards.  On draft weekend this past April, the Buccaneers' brain trust of Head Coach Greg Schiano, General Manager Mark Dominik and Director of Player Personnel Dennis Hickey discussed the possibility of landing Shepard during or after the draft.  Shepard eventually signed with the Philadelphia Eagles as an undrafted free agent but the Buccaneers snapped him up off waivers on September 1 when the Eagles let him go.  He has since played in every game and carved out a significant role on special teams, if not yet on offense.

"He was an intriguing guy," said Schiano.  "Then Philly got him, but we kept our eye on him and as soon as he became available we went and got him. I thought it was a really good acquisition. Here’s a guy who, as he grows as a wideout, he’s not going to forget how to play special teams, and now you’ve got a wideout who’s a good teams player. That’s a valuable commodity.”

-- WR Russell Shepard has six special teams tackles and a fumble recovery on punt coverage
Shepard serves as one of the two "gunners" on punt coverage, which means that he's got the best chance to arrive at the return man first if he can beat the press of one or two defenders.  He's done that well, ranking second on the team with six special teams tackles.  Shepard also has a fumble recovery on punt coverage and has disrupted other plays in ways that aren't obvious on the stats page.  That has kept him among the team's 46 game-day active players despite the fact that he hasn't seen any action on offense.

“I think he’s just so productive that you can’t not have him up as a special teams guy," said Schiano.  "We look at our special teams production every week, and Russell is consistently [productive], whether he’s forcing a fair catch as a gunner, whether he’s trimming the fat on the backside of a kick return – all the things that are not real flashy, but that allow you to be effective on your special teams. And I do believe that Russell is getting better and better  at wide receiver. I think it’s just a matter of time before he can be a wide receiver for us."

Shepard will surely be active against the Carolina Panthers on Sunday.  The Bucs hope that cornerback Darrelle Revis will be, too, but it was too early to tell on Friday.  Revis did practice in a limited fashion after being held out on Wednesday and Thursday due to a groin injury, but his game status will likely be decided when the team arrives at Bank of America Stadium on Sunday.

"It will probably be a game-time decision," said Revis after Friday's practice. I will probably have to get out there a little earlier and try to run and see how I feel when I cut and how I move.

“It’s better, it’s way better. It was a strained muscle and luckily it was nothing more than that and nothing serious. It’s been day-by-day. [I was] limited today, hopefully the rest of the day today and tomorrow I will get a lot more rest and move forward to Sunday.”

Below are full injury reports for both teams, complete with game-status designations added on Friday, as well as additional thoughts from Schiano and Revis:

Buccaneers:

Player

Injury

Practice Status

Game Status

LB Mason Foster

Concussion

Full Participation

Probable

LB Adam Hayward

Foot

Full Participation

Probable

G Davin Joseph

Knee

Full Participation

Probable

G Jamon Meredith

Ankle

Full Participation

Probable

G Carl Nicks

Foot

Did Not Participate

Out

CB Darrelle Revis

Groin

Limited Participation

Questionable

DT Akeem Spence

Wrist

Full Participation

Probable


Panthers:

Player

Injury

Practice Status

Game Status

LB Chase Blackburn

Foot

Limited Participation

Questionable

T Jordan Gross

No Injury

Full Participation

Probable

TE Ben Hartsock

Knee

Did Not Participate

Doubtful

DE Charles Johnson

Knee

Did Not Participate

Out

G Chris Scott

Knee

Did Not Participate

Out

WR Steve Smith

Knee

Full Participation

Probable

RB Jonathan Stewart

Ankle

Limited Participation

Questionable

RB Mike Tolbert

Knee

Limited Participation

Questionable

RB DeAngelo Williams

Quad

Did Not Participate

Questionable


Head Coach Greg Schiano

(Opening statement)
“[Today was] a good Friday [practice]. We got through every phase, including the kicking game. Everyone was able to practice; [cornerback] Darrelle [Revis] was limited, as far as tempo and those kinds of things, but, since he’s been out both the previous two days, that’s a step in the right direction and we’ll see come Sunday. With [linebacker] Mason [Foster], he’s done well this week. As with any head injury, we’ll evaluate him up to and through the game to make sure that that continues.”

(On Revis’ status for the injury report)
“He’s limited and questionable [for Sunday’s game].”

(On whether facing Carolina on Sunday will be one of the toughest tests of the season)
“You’re playing the hottest team in the league in their home stadium, yeah, I’d say so.”

(On game planning for Carolina while Revis’ status is questionable)
“Well, anytime you have a guy like Darrelle, it’s pretty drastic, and anytime they have a guy like [Carolina wide receiver] Steve [Smith], there’s certain things you want to do. And like I said all along, [Carolina] is a well-coached football team, so it’s not like they’re just going to give you the looks that you’ve seen. They’re going to have new looks. There’s going to be things you didn’t practice against. And that’s where game-plan specific things become even more complicated. The good thing is that [safety] Dashon [Goldson] is back, so you’ve got a guy who’s seen a lot of football in his time. The one thing when you have those experienced guys is they kind of figure it out. Now, if Darrelle plays and Dashon plays, sometimes they’ll be on the same side and they’ll talk through it. The hard thing is when you’re mixing and matching the way we are, they don’t always practice together, and so much of playing in the secondary – I look at the secondary and the o-line as very, very similar. It’s communication – it’s kind of that almost unsaid communication where you just know what the other guy is going to do because you’ve been there in that position before. So that’s something that we’re fighting, for sure, but at this time of year, not many teams have the same four back there, same five, same six, depending on packages. It’s part of the time of year.”

(On defensive end Will Gholston’s development)
“William has really, I think, kind of been on this [upward] trajectory. He’s a guy who gives us something inside that we don’t have. He’s a bigger guy, he’s a longer guy, can really run. I think he’s getting better and he gives us something we don’t have. That’s one of the reasons we drafted him. What he’s doing is doing his job better and better each week. Like we always say, you earn your piece of the pie around here, and he’s earned the right to play more. I wouldn’t say [defensive end] Steven Means has done anything wrong, because I love the way he works and he’s really been pretty good in practice. It’s just that right now, relative to the other guys who are playing, it’s just one of those 46 questions – getting [game-day active players] up, getting them a hat. One of the things I try to keep doing with Steven is encouraging him, because he is getting better, and he’s a guy who is going to be good.”

(On Carolina tight end Greg Olsen)
“I think [Olsen] is every bit in the league with [Tony Gonzalez and Jimmy Graham]. I think Greg has come on quite a bit in the last two years. He is a big-play guy for them and he’s a very good route runner – very good. I know Greg from years back. He’s a football coach’s son and he’s a football guy. He understands the game, he has the feel what coverages are doing to him. He’s a big part of [Carolina’s] offense.”

(On Olsen as threat in the red zone)
“Absolutely. He got us down there last game and he gets a lot of people.”

(On Carolina quarterback Cam Newton and how his mobility affects Tampa Bay’s pass rush)
“It’s definitely a factor; no doubt. Sometimes, 90 percent is better than 100 percent, if that makes sense. Because a lot of times 100 percent is all or nothing with this guy, and all is great and nothing can be really bad. So you have to have a little more control. You have to have a little bit more of your lane integrity in your pass rushes. Some guys, when you don’t have a mobile guy, you can darn near have no lane integrity – just go get him. We’re not going to be on either end of the spectrum. Against Cam, you’re going to need to be somewhere in between.”

(On quarterback Mike Glennon handling inside pressure)
“If you can do that, then you prevent the step up, where the guy slides up in protection. I think what Detroit had going [is that] they had both the edge pressure and the interior pressure going. So the edge pressure was causing [Glennon] to step up, and he stepping up into bodies. The one thing that Mike gives himself a chance on, because he’s 6-7, is when he does move up, or if there is middle pressure, he’s one of the few guys who actually can see over it. Very few quarterbacks can see over the pressure. Not that Mike can on every down, but he’s got a fighting chance to, which, for interior pressure, that’s something where he can get the check-down off to the back and actually see him.”

(On kicker Rian Lindell)
“No one works harder – he is a consummate professional. When I go up, my [office] window overlooks the window where he kicks all the time. The guy is just – he started out, he kicked what appeared to be the game-winner up at the Jet game, so pressure is not an issue. He’s done it so many times. At lifetime, I think he’s like an 80-percent kicker. He just had two tough kicks. The thing he’s just sick about is [that] those were indoors – those were ideal settings [for field goal kicking]. But maybe for a guy from Buffalo, outdoors is better. Maybe a little wind and stuff helps him out. But we have confidence in him. I know our team does, our coaches, and everybody. I’m confident that he’s going to rebound and make some kicks for us down the stretch.”

CB Darrelle Revis

(On his injury)
“It is what it is. I wish I could control injuries, but I can’t control my injury. When I feel ready to go that’s when it’s time for me to get out there and play.”

(On limiting Carolina wide receiver Steve Smith and the Panthers offense)

“They do have a great passing attack. We feel that he is the key guy. He gets them going. He has a lot of emotion after catches sometimes. We want to take that away from them. We are playing great as a secondary, so hopefully we put another game in this week. We’ve got ‘Hawk’ [safety Dashon Goldson] back so hopefully that will put some fear in their offense as well.

(On if the team feels better now that they have won a few games)
“Like I said before, a win cures everything. Once we got our first win, I felt that guys were getting comfortable to know how to win. We just started racking them up, we’re on a three-game winning streak and hopefully we get our fourth this Sunday.”

(On stopping Carolina’s winning streak)
“It would be good to knock them off. Don’t get me wrong, they’re playing lights out. [Carolina quarterback] Cam Newton is playing great this year. They’re rolling. On offense and defense they’re rolling and they’re a great team. We’re not shying down. We played against another great team a couple of weeks ago in Seattle and we hung in with them well. We feel that we can beat this team and try to get our fourth win under our belt.”

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