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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Buccaneer Quotes: Collins Out Again

Starting left tackle Anthony Collins missed his second straight practice on Thursday but that doesn't mean he's a sure thing to be sidelined Sunday…And other discussions

Photos from Wednesday's practice at One Buccaneer Place.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers practiced on Thursday without three players, the same three who had sat out the day before: tackle Anthony Collins, linebacker Brandon Magee and running back Doug Martin. Following Wednesday's practice, Head Coach Lovie Smith said he hoped his team would have the services of their starting left tackle on Thursday, but that did not happen.

That does not mean that Collins is sure to miss Sunday's game in Cleveland, but it obviously heightens the level of concern to some extent. Collins may just need some extra rest to get his injured foot ready for the next 60-minute battle.

"I think it's a little early [to be talking about a replacement]," said Smith. "[It's] a possibility – it's concerning when you don't have your starting left tackle, but I wouldn't say we're to that stage yet. Some games, it takes you a little bit longer to recover with some of the soreness. But it's not like it's a serious injury or anything like that. But just like any other position, if someone can't go, it's the next guy up. It's that way with running back, linebacker, whatever else we have."

Rookie Kevin Pamphile is listed second on the Buccaneers' depth chart at left tackle, but he has yet to be kept among the active 46 players on game day this year. The other player listed as a reserve tackle is former Brown Oniel Cousins, who has played both inside and outside. Again, Smith is not yet to the point where he thinks he needs a replacement for Collins, but he's comfortable with Cousins in any capacity he might be needed on Sunday.

"We're confident with him," said Smith. "He's played in the league a long time. There's a reason why we've had him up each week. He has played with us at a couple different positions. The confidence level is high for him to step in as a backup player and move into that role."

Collins and contingency plans weren't the only subjects being discussed at One Buccaneer Place on Thursday. Below are some additional thoughts from Tampa Bay players and coaches.


Head Coach Lovie Smith

Opening statement:
"Anthony Collins is getting better. We had three guys that didn't practice today: Anthony Collins, Brandon Magee and Doug Martin – kind of like yesterday. They're getting better but they weren't able to go today. These are two important days and if you don't go, of course, there's cause for concern a little bit. The rest of our players were all able to at least practice on a limited basis. Trindon Holliday hurt his hamstring a little bit today. Besides that, just your typical Thursday that we're going through. Good work. We realize the importance of the game, we realize what our record is, and we need to get a win."

On if wide receiver/returner Trindon Holliday's injury is severe enough that he would miss Sunday's game:
"All I know is that he tweaked his hamstring."

On if he injured the same hamstring that he hurt while with the New York Giants at the start of the season:
"I don't know all those details right now. We'll be able to give you a little bit more tomorrow."

On if the defense is able to get takeaways during practice:
"Yes we do. And that's why eventually they have to come. You keep practicing taking it away and eventually it becomes a habit – where I've been – and that would be the case. We want it to happen sooner than later. But we did do some better things this past week. Our defense looked more like that snapshot that we wanted to be, except for [getting takeaways]. But that exception is big. It's the difference in the game, of course, if we can just get one more. But we'll continue to do it and eventually they'll start coming out."

On how cornerback Charles Tillman became an expert at causing turnovers:
"By that: just doing it every day in practice. I think you could make a case that 'Peanut' Tillman is the best, [but] I'm biased. The numbers are what they are and we saw it on a daily basis. It wasn't – they didn't all just come right away; it took time. But first, there's got to be a commitment. We as coaches, we keep preaching it. You ask that question, you know what we're trying to do, but it does happen. It comes. Again, the offense hasn't turned it over. So it's got to be about takeaways – taking the ball away for us – and that will happen."

On the performance of Wright so far this season:
"I think it's been pretty good – especially in run support he's been good. He hasn't had as many opportunities, but Major is part of the defense that hasn't gotten as many takeaways as we need. But I've been around him, drafted him, seen him play good football – he's a good football player. We feel confident that we won't miss a beat. We have to get better play at all the positions, and hopefully Major will give us a boost."

On if safety Bradley McDougald is working at both safety positions:
"Yes he is. Part of the equation when you let a player go, you have to like what's here, what's remaining, and McDougald is a part of that being able to do both. As I said yesterday, he's probably the best combination of a coverage guy of the tight ends and the matchup we have with that along with playing in the box, whether it's deep halves or deep free safety – he can do it all."

On how running back Charles Sims has looked in practice this week:
"He's making progress. I know that's some broad and general term, but he's been out a long time and it takes a while. You can run on the side, but when you have to make cuts and you have to push off when you have big defensive linemen yanking the ball away from you every snap – he's getting back into the flow. I don't know if he'll be able to go this week. We'll talk on those things a little bit later on, maybe right up until Sunday. Eventually soon, he will be back on the field."

On if the team being ranked last in offense and defense is deceiving:
"I think the 1-6 record isn't. It's what it is. And again, if the season stopped right now, that's where we are – numbers don't lie. Behind the scenes, before it actually happens, you can see the arrow pointing in the right direction. Defensively, there was some proof of it this past week and I think in time, offensively, we'll see some of that also. But right now, that's where we are. As we start this climb, that's where we are."

On if he agrees with defensive tackle Gerald McCoy's comments earlier this week that the team will eventually win the Super Bowl:
"There's no doubt. We definitely set ourselves up for an epic climb for sure. And it will. Again, I do have a history of being in situations like this. And that's why it's fun now to talk on how we came back then. Again, we've definitely set ourselves up for that right now. I believe we can do it again by guys like Gerald, and Lavonte [David], and the Vincent Jacksons, and the different guys on the offensive side of the ball. But we've been saying that so much. To me, I'm just going to get away from making those kind of predictions. But behind the scenes, we are becoming a better football team. And eventually, winning will become a habit for us."

On the coaches and players being vocal and lively during today's practice and how you keep your players fired up:
"I think they see – I mean, they're realists to what's going on. [We] realize what the record is, but when you feel yourself getting better and you think something good is getting ready to happen, that's what keeps you going. For a man, when you're going through times like this, you just kind of listen to what everybody is saying or talking about what they have to do. And in order to have a little bit of life like that, you feel like something good is getting ready to happen – that we're going here instead of there. Even where we are right now. Earlier on, I talked about seven and a half minutes left to go in the second quarter: we're still in that second quarter – there's a lot of time. Football doesn't really begin until November. You get yourself in position before that. And even though our record is what it is, two games out of first place as I see it. We're in position for that to happen. Hopefully the guys will keep that fire. But I found you get that fire and you get a whole lot happier once you win. That locker room after our one win, that Pittsburgh locker room was pretty good. The plane ride home was pretty good. I still remember that."

Defensive Coordinator Leslie Frazier

Opening statement:
"Good afternoon everybody, I'm looking forward to getting back at practice today. It's a big day for us as we continue our preparation for a Cleveland Browns team that's playing very well at home – they're 3-1 at home – and we're going to have to play without question the best football of our season in order to come away with a win. We're looking forward to today and trying to get better as a group. It should be a good day for us."

On what they like about safety Bradley McDougald:
"One of the things with Bradley is his ability to cover, as well as being able to play down in the box. He has good hands, good athletic ability. He's unproven. We had him in the preseason and he did some things for us that we have to see as time goes on, but he's shown athletic ability and the wherewithal to play the position and we think he'll be able to do it well in due time. He's very young so there's a lot of work that needs to be done, but he has some of the tools you look for at the position."

On the strides the defense made last week:
"Well, 13 points – that's a big deal. I would say the 13 is big. I thought we were a little bit more consistent rushing the passer – didn't always get them on the ground, but we did a better job of being around the quarterback and making him uneasy. Getting the nine third-down stops I thought was a big deal for our guys, but we still have a lot of work to do. We're going to have a new starting safety this week and we'll keep working to try to improve and get the guys playing fast and playing physical, but I thought we made some strides in some areas in the ball game on Sunday. We were more physical, it seemed like we were on the same page of what we were trying to get accomplished and it showed in our play. I thought we were better against the run, they had the one breakout run at the end of the ballgame, but other than that we did a pretty good job against a good running football team."

On being disappointed by letting Minnesota tie the game at the end of regulation:
"Obviously you want to win the ballgame no matter what happens even if they don't play well in a phase of football, you want to win the game and we came up short, we didn't come away from with the win. We didn't get a stop on defense in that two-minute drive."

On nickel cornerback Isaiah Frey getting more snaps this week:
"We did some things in that ball game to take a look at him, but not necessarily. This is a different week, different offense, we expect to get Leonard [Johnson] back in there and put him in a position to make some plays this week."

On what he learned about coaching against Cleveland quarterback Brian Hoyer last year and on film this year:
"Well he's got more experience for sure and it shows in his play, he seems to be more confident. It's a different offense than the one he ran a year ago, but you can see the same things that you saw when he was in Arizona. He's a guy that has good accuracy, good poise in the pocket, has a good presence about him and he's still a good quarterback. We'll have to do the best we can to harass him and get him off his spot, but he does a good job of leading your offense."

On if defensive end Jacquies Smith earned more snaps after last week's performance:
"I think he did. He had some good rushes for us, came off the edge with some speed and gave us something we haven't seen as often as we like, just that the speed off the edge. I thought the same thing happened with T.J. Fantinikun and even Larry [English] when they got in there. Those guys came in and gave us something as well. It was good to see Michael [Johnson] be more consistent with his rush, but to answer your question I thought Jacquies did some things to make you take notice."

On what it means to have Gerald McCoy under contract at his position going forward:
"It's critical for our long-term success to have a guy like Gerald at that position. It's a key position in our defense and without it and it's very difficult to make improvement. To have him locked down, you can begin to build around him and he's the cornerstone of our defense in a lot of ways. It's exciting for him and his family, but even more exciting for our organization that we know he's going to be a Buc for a very long time. Not only is he a great player, but he's a great person in the locker room and the community as well. He's going to have a lot of good years here in Tampa which we're grateful of."

On if the combination of safeties Major Wright and Dashon Goldson is going to give them the best chance to win:
"I think every decision that you make – I know with Coach [Smith] and with Jason [Licht] it's all about what gives us the best chance to win and that's the mindset. Every move that you've seen here over the last few months, has been about that and so the goal is to continue to find ways to help us win."

On the play of linebacker Mason Foster after coming back from injury:
"He was better this week after the bye than he was that first week back, he wasn't quite himself. You could see the difference with more time and the fact that he had gotten some of the cobwebs knocked off the week before. The bye helped him and I don't think he had any setbacks from our game on Sunday so he should keep improving."

On what he likes about safety Major Wright:
"The fact that he's played in this system definitely helps him, without question. He's a leader back there, he does a lot of the verbal communication you need from that position and he has some playmaking ability as well. He's a very, very good tackler, but his leadership is kind of the thing that sticks out to me. To have someone back there who can kind of direct the secondary that should help us."

On what needs to happen in the secondary in order to help the pass rush and cornerback Johnthan Banks missed game-ending interception:
"It's always rush and coverage, it's always that way whether you're blitzing or you're rushing with four and we have to get the two working more consistently together in order for us to take the necessary steps we need to take on defense. When our rush is working, then we need to get tighter coverage and if for some reason we're struggling with the matchups, then we've got to make sure we've got a great rush. It's always about that and there were some times in that sequence where you would've liked to have better coverage, but at the end of the day if you make that play, the game is over."

DT Gerald McCoy

On what challenges he sees from the Cleveland Browns:
"First off: I want to say from me, how much respect I have for Brian Hoyer and what he represents on the field. I don't know who he is or what type of guy he is off the field, but he's in a starting role for a reason, he rightfully earned that role through all of the circus that was going on in Cleveland. He never wavered, he kept his mouth shut and he just performed and he's the guy who should be starting and he's led them the way he should. He's an athletic guy, smart, can make all of the throws and is a huge reason why they are where they're at. Starting with him, we've got to make sure we neutralize him. Of course everything starts with stopping the run and we're just going to have to get upfield, so it starts it with us up front getting penetration, with them running a similar-style run game that Baltimore had. The one thing we didn't do well against Baltimore is we didn't get upfield enough and we're going to have to change that this week."

On why he closed his twitter account on Monday:
"I'm an adult and I made an adult decision. You can take whatever you want from that, but I was just doing what I'm allowed to do."

On if he sees progress in the defense after last week:
"Obviously giving up less points is huge for us. If you give up 13 points in a game, then you have a great chance of winning. We were more physical up front, we got a lot of penetration in the run game, we shed blocks much better than the week prior and we got to the quarterback. Obviously you need more than one sack, but our rush was more consistent and the one thing we have to do is we have to lead the charge with taking the ball away. You give up 13 points, they gave up 13 points, but the difference is they took the ball away and we didn't. If you give up 13 points and have two or three takeaways and you win the turnover margin, then your chances of winning skyrockets. We just have to be better at taking the ball away, but yes we did improve up front, definitely."

On if creating takeaways is more of a mindset:
"There are ways to do it, but it's definitely a mindset. You know when you're going for the tackle, don't just try to get them on the ground, try and get the ball out and it's as simple as that. You have to be thinking that at all times. Even with some of our defensive calls, we put strip at the beginning of it, it's just a reminder. You have to constantly remind each other, 'Hey, we have to get the ball out, take the ball away.' We can't always depend on the offense to make mistakes, you have to force it. You have to be thinking it all times."

On the trades that affected the defense this week and if it made players realize they're all expendable:
"This is not the first time a first round pick has been traded, obviously in this league, but it is a business and Mark [Barron] was a very good player for us. Like I say all the time, we go on the field and play with whoever they give us to play with. Me personally, I trust whatever decisions they make and I just go with them, I don't question them, I just go with it. I think Mark is going to do great in St. Louis, but it gives other guys that we have an opportunity to step up. With [Bradley] McDougald and with Major [Wright], those guys had production in training camps and have done what we've asked them to do, so it gives them a chance to be in a starting role and show what they can do. Obviously we're going to miss Mark as players because he was around us all of the time, but like you said this is a business and it's really a next man up mentality."

On what else the defense needs to do to get better besides creating takeaways:
"We have to take the ball away and it's as simple as that. More sacks would help and in order to do that we have to work better as a group. There are tons of times when you've seen individuals winning, but not enough to where there was somebody covering the individual up – once that person won, somebody else needed to cover them up. The thing Buffalo and Detroit did the two weeks prior is that they always had somebody covering up the guy who was winning and there was no escape and that's why they could rack up on the sacks. We have to do a better job with that, but collectively as a group we have to take the ball away, it's as simple as that. If we take the ball away twice in that game we win that game. Simple."

On if there needs to be an adjustment during crucial situations on the defense:
"Our rush and coverage combo has to be better in any two-minute situation. In each of the two-minute drills against Minnesota, at the end of the half and at the end of the game, there was one, maybe two plays that could've changed the whole game and it's just the rush and coverage combo working together. It has to be more consistent. There were times where you see the rush and we got Teddy [Bridgewater] off the spot and the coverage wasn't there. There times where the coverage was there and we didn't land. It has to be more consistent together and when we have opportunities to take the ball away we've got to take it away. If a ball hits you in the hands, we depend on those individuals, even me or one of the lineman – if you get a chance to get to the quarterback, don't try and get the sack, try and get the ball out, we have to take the ball away. Collectively as a unit, we have to be better."

WR Vincent Jackson

On not being traded before the trade deadline:
"I'm happy to be here. It's part of this business – guys are transitioned around this league. It's just something that we have to deal with. But again, I'm happy to be a part of this organization, this city – even if I was to go somewhere else, I'm pretty sure Tampa is going to remain my home for me and my family. But yeah, I believe we're building something special here and I enjoy being a part of that and I would like to see this one through."

On what makes him believe that this team will be able to improve:
"The fact that those flashes show up each and every week – whether it's a quarter, a great drive, a great defensive stop, things like that, and we've just got to start stringing those things together, being more consistent throughout an entire game. We know we have the players in this locker room to do that, we have the coaching staff to do that. Again, guys are really going about their business the right way despite the circumstances. There has been no let up as far as what we can accomplish."

On what parts of wide receiver Mike Evans' game that he sees is improving:
"All of our receivers continue to improve each and every week. A lot of that with the younger guys is just going to be experience, getting experience. You can see Mike starting to understand things, starting to see defenses, understanding when the matchup is going to be good for him. As an offense, we're maturing as well. We've got to remember we're a lot of new faces on that offense and it's a new system, so we're kind of learning it all as we go. But again, Mike continue to work hard each and every week. He continues to work on his craft – be that guy that's hungry and willing to take the coaching like he has been. The sky is the limit for him."

RB Charles Sims

On if he feels that he has been capable of doing everything he wants to in practice this week:
"I do most of the time. Just getting back in the fit of things."

On if he would be ready to play on Sunday if he is active:
"I'm just going day-by-day, just seeing how I feel. I'm leaving it up to the coaches to make that decision."

On how hard it was for him to watch from the sidelines while injured:
"It's been hard. I'm just happy to get out there and compete."

On what he did during the time he was out with an injury:
"Just catching up. Just learning the playbook, making sure I catch up on things and make sure I know what's going on at all times."

On if he thinks he has the ability to jump start the offense:
"I think I do, but there's always room for improvement."

On what he thinks is his best attribute:
"I just do whatever helps the team. Whether it's making plays, or blocking, or running between the tackles – just do whatever helps the team."

On what is most important for his play to complement running backs Doug Martin and Bobby Rainey:
"Just not missing a beat. When they're on the field and I come in, just not missing a beat."

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