Check out photos of the Buccaneers' current roster.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers found an interesting prospect this summer in undrafted free agent Solomon Patton, the fast but undersized receiver out of the University of Florida. Patton showed enough in training camp and in the preseason to win a spot on the active roster and the job of returning kickoffs and punts.
On Tuesday, however, the Buccaneers didn't hesitate to waive Patton when they had an opportunity to sign fourth-year player Trindon Holliday and turn the kick return duties over to him immediately. Patton may still enjoy a long NFL career, but the Bucs felt their special teams would be more likely to make an impact with Holliday on the field.
"We're not satisfied with our return game," said Head Coach Lovie Smith. "So when you're not satisfied with that, you look to the returner first – that's what we did. We have a player with a proven record for being able to do something with it. It was an easy decision for us. He became available. We're always comparing what's available out there to what we have here. We all felt that this was the direction we should go."
Holliday has spent the first part of the 2014 season on the New York Giants' injured reserve list. The previous two seasons, he was a kick-return force for the Denver Broncos, scoring four times in the regular season and twice more in the playoffs. If Patton is undersized and fast, Holliday (5-5, 166) is even more so, and he has the moves to create big plays.
"Speed helps quite a bit," said Smith. "Speed helps with any position we're talking about. But it's just not speed: quickness, he can make you miss in the open field. So it's all those things. We feel comfortable [with] him catching the football, and then from there, he's a tough guy to tackle in the open field. And if he hits a crease, very few guys can catch him. I think that's a good start."
The Giants were able to sign Holliday this past offseason because the Broncos didn't bring him back, perhaps because he had fumbled a few more times than they liked. The Buccaneers certainly don't want to create big plays for the other team on special teams, and fumbling would certainly do that, but they're more swayed by the potential positives Holliday can provide.
"I kind of look to the returns he's had for touchdowns," said Smith. "We just feel like, as I said before a few times now, that we think he can give us something that we haven't had. He's out there and he wasn't on another team, so somebody didn't like something about him, but we like him enough right now to give him an opportunity. We think we can be more productive in the punt return game and return game in general. We feel comfortable giving him a shot to do that."
Buccaneer players and coaches discussed a number of other issues on Wednesday as they began preparing for a visit from the Minnesota Vikings. More of their thoughts can be found below.
Head Coach Lovie Smith
"Injury report: Vincent Jackson – of course, I think most of you saw him doing a little bit. We had a full padded practice today. He was at least able to go out there without pads and get a little bit of work in on a limited basis. Everyone else practiced on a limited basis – I'm talking about Jonathan Casillas, Anthony Collins, Dashon Goldson, Josh McCown, Keith Tandy and Johnthan Banks. So we're in pretty good shape. Brandon Magee tweaked his knee a little bit, so he really practiced on a limited basis. Besides that, again, we're in pretty good shape. It's good to get everybody back out there. Quarterback position: seemed like there were a lot of cameras on the quarterback position quite a bit. We don't have a quarterback controversy. Our quarterback position has been strengthened with Josh coming back. Beyond that, we realize what's at stake. The break helped an awful lot. It seems like forever since we've played a game. Minnesota has lost three in a row. I'm sure they're not happy about that. They've had opportunities in most of the games they've lost. Had a couple of common opponents in the Saints and the Rams that we played."
On if quarterback Josh McCown will be the starter or backup this week:
"We'll see how the week goes. As soon as Josh – [as soon as] we feel like he's fully ready to play, he'll have a role with us."
On how excited he is about the addition of return man Trindon Holliday:
"Very. Again, he has a track record. Great quickness and speed – legitimate speed, too. So we put guys that have been blocking – guys are normally pretty excited knowing that if they can just kind of get in front of their man a little bit and give him an opportunity, we could do something. We're trying to score points any way we can. We haven't gotten enough out of our return game up to this point."
On if there is a quarterback controversy until he names a starting quarterback:
"I don't see it that way at all. We have two quarterbacks. You might say that – I don't say that at all. Guys know where they stand [with] the rotation that we have."
On if he came up with any solutions over the bye week:
"We think so. We need to get to the game. For me to come up here and say, 'Hey, this, this,' doesn't do any good. We've worked extremely hard since we've played our last game. We feel like we've identified some things and we've been working on those and can't wait to see how it plays out this weekend."
On his message to recently suspended defensive lineman Da'Quan Bowers:
"Disappointed, starting off. We need everyone. There's a reason why he was on our football team. But people make mistakes and there are consequences with the mistakes that you make. We'll welcome him back at that point, but right now, both guys, they hurt our football team by not being available this weekend and the next."
On having two players suspended for PEDs recently, including fullback Jorvorskie Lane using a supplement to lose weight:
"You make mistakes. Everybody tries to lose weight. Do I think this is a major problem? No. He's punished two games and he'll come back from there. Period."
On if players are educated on what supplements they are allowed to take:
"Absolutely. Even if you're educated, people make mistakes always and they make bad decisions always. I think they knew what they were doing and they chose to go that route."
On how defensive end Michael Johnson has looked this week and if his ankle is healing:
"Hope so. When you have an injury, it's hard for you to play the way we would like. But the two weeks off, that's helped. And he looked pretty good in practice today, so, hopefully, that will be the case. Michael would probably tell you he's had one good game. He hasn't probably been one hundred percent yet. But I just feel like once we do get him close to that, we're going to see a pretty good football player."
On the team's trend of losing games at home:
"Before we get to that, I'd say we just have to play better football and some of those problems will – we haven't been pleased with how we've played away from [home] either. So I just don't think we can say there. We should play better at home. And I think eventually we will. But again, we're just not playing good enough football right now wherever we are. But I still say eventually that will change and those things will take care of themselves."
On the performance of running back Charles Sims in practice today:
"He is good getting back on the football field. He's not there yet. But it's a process that we go through with him. But again, first step to coming back 100 percent is getting him on the football field today. He stayed up with the game mentally – watching video and doing all the things you can without actually practicing. But it's different. And he's been running off to the side and things like that. But out there with your teammates, making a cut knowing that a guy could possibly land on the foot, it's a little bit different. So it's a big step for him today."
On if winning the coin toss and electing to receive could be a solution to starting slow in the first half:
"All things on the table. Seriously, on that note, we're looking to change – to me, it's pretty obvious with everything. Not everything, but a lot of things. If you've tried something and you haven't gotten the results you want, you look to change things up. It's like that as you're calling plays in a game. This doesn't work, [then] you look for something else. But I wish it was that simple as us not deferring and taking the ball and that's the reason why we're 1-5. I think it's a little bit more than that, but all things happen."
On if he was surprised that Minnesota played man coverage against Buffalo wide receiver Sammy Watkins last week:
"The single coverage and double coverage – you can't double receivers every time. To stop the run, you're single coverage, period. We're Tampa 2, but it's not like we're playing Cover 2 and you're doubling the receiver – we do that very little. As a general rule, every defense on any given play is playing some type of single high safety and is man-to-man on the outside. That's just ball in general. You have to do that with everyone. So does that surprise me? No. That's how ball is played to me."
On his impression of Minnesota rookie quarterback Teddy Bridgewater:
"Impressive guy when he came through on the college visits. Watched a lot of him when he was in college. He's looked good, you know, at times. He's a rookie. Of course, coming off an injury, he hasn't been as mobile lately. But [I'm] impressed with what he's done. He made good decisions in college, he can throw the ball, bright, a lot of upside with him. It will be a challenge for our guys."
On how a defensive line can generate a pass rush against a quarterback using a three-step drop:
"Three-step drops are base parts of every game we've had – not just the last three. All six. Every game this weekend, a three-step drop will be a base part of it. It's just a part of life. You don't get there, [then] you get your hands up, and you can play better coverage. If there's not enough time for the pass rush to get there, you have to cover them. It's as simple as that. It's just not the last three games – every game we've played, three-step drop is a base part of every offensive game plan each game in the league – college, high school and all."
Quarterbacks Coach Marcus Arroyo
On how close quarterback Josh McCown is to being ready to play:
"He got a chance to throw the other day and it looked like the most that he has probably done. I think he's getting to the point where he's feeling more comfortable. Every day is going to be a better day for him to get under center and take snaps and see what feels best. I'm excited to see another day for him to go out there and see how it feels. That's all it is, is another chance to say 'How does it feel? Were there any hindrances?' Then we can start moving forward in that direction."
On what he learned from the bye week that will help the offense start faster:
"I think that everyone probably does it a little bit of the same fashion. You go through and you reflect a lot on what exactly you're doing, most importantly, because you finally get a time to look at yourself and really critique yourself and expound on things you're trying to, for us, still institute because we're so early in our development. I think then you look at the things that are becoming hindrances, the things that you need to improve on and there's obviously a list there that we can constantly develop. The slow start was a good one to start on because we need to start faster. A lot of it came through things we already all know. We've talked about shooting ourselves in the foot: getting behind in the chains, putting ourselves in third-and-long on those early starts and early downs. We had a couple of turnovers in our first series and stuff like that, which we can't have happened. We had drops in the first series on big third down plays. We had just missed execution in the study of those first few drives of each game, in comparison to, for instance, the second halves, that's where we really looked at - without going through the exact specifications without giving away what we found out - it was just really going through those things and pointing out the things that have been miscues and how to address those and how to then – because you have to find them and then you have to put them in practice – so how do you fix them, how do you find ways to get things going earlier. We've got some ideas that we are going to institute this week that hopefully help us get off to a more functional start. It's got to be faster, there's no doubt about that. I think that we all know that."
On the plan for the fullback position with Jorvorskie Lane suspended:
"It's unfortunate, but it's next man up. We have to find a way to do what we need to do best with the guys we've put in that position, without giving away what we're doing personnel-wise on our side of the ball. We've got to now find our run plan that now suits who that second blocker is in the backfield, the guy off the ball, whether it's going to be a different set or different personnel, without giving away details. Obviously we feel, Jorvorskie is a good player, but now it's going to give us an opportunity in base personnel to do our run game and now we have to tweak it a little bit."
On calling shorter drop back passes to help the offensive line with protection:
"In our opinion, the first thing that you look at is protecting the quarterback and we've done a really good job for the most part. [Against Baltimore], they got after us a little bit, but some situations we can create better. I can do better, we can do better and we can put guys in better situations. This team is another team that can get after you in sacks, they play hard, good motor, good players on the defensive line. Statistically I saw something stand out, as far as getting to the quarterback and creating some sacks. They're good, they play with high motors and we've got to be able to keep us in manageable situations where we can put the ball out, that's the thing. If you're not trying to have to get huge chunks, then you can. But we need to do that: we have to protect the quarterback. We've done a really good job and the protection has been forefront in everything we're been doing and we're not going to let last week slow us down as far as our ability to deal with ways to protect [the quarterback] and put him in advantageous situations."
On how much has he talked to defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier about his familiarity with Minnesota's personnel:
"It always helps to have someone who knows the players, that's probably a key that you hit on right there is the players, because the scheme are going to be a little different with different coaches. But if you get anything from guys that you maybe – you watched the tape and then you ask if there is anything that we don't know that we don't see on tape and obviously he knows those guys pretty well, without getting exactly into what those details are. I think it helps to have that in any capacity, whether it's a coach or a player who was on the team as well as things that I know circulate or happen. Leslie has obviously been one person that we can bounce some stuff off of and "Hey we see this from this guy' or 'We see this and that is this right? 'This looks like this' - it helps, you can gain a little bit. I don't know how much of an advantage it truly gives you."
On what he observed on film about quarterback Mike Glennon during the bye week:
"Going through the bye week [looking] just at the quarterback position specifically, he's done a lot of really good things. A really good job with protections – in our room a lot of it comes down to what we can do as far as managing the game and the keys to victory. A lot of it starts with protections up front and knowing that, we ask a lot and we do a lot as far as asking those guys to protect themselves in a lot of ways. He's done a great job with the line and the times he's had with protection, knowing where guys are coming from and knowing to get it to what we need to get it to. Physically and technically he does some really good things as far as where to put the ball in space. There are some throws we missed that I think we've talked about before that I think if he had them back he would be 'I just missed it this way' - things that we can fine tune. The thing that I liked most was as soon as those things come up, we're eager to attack them and fix them and eager to come out here this week and go 'Ok, I remember this from this and I remember this footwork from this, I remember I was off platform on this, I remember I was a little bit late here, I remember this player runs a little bit different than I'm used to with this guy, I know that this ball needs to be here instead of over here because of who it is or what it is or what the coverage looked like.' I just like their attention to detail and wanting-ness to be better. [Those are] the things that I look back and reflect on with Mike that he does really well, is his attention to detail and wanting to better. The little mechanical things are things that we can tweak and we're working on constantly, those developments in the scheme. He's done a lot of good things, moved the ball well at times and the snafus that we've had and the setbacks that we've had are all fixable. That's the thing, none of them are terminal, that's the good part and that's the reality of it. We can fix them and how we fix has got to be expounded on this week, starting today. It started [Monday], so I'm excited about that."
On if McCown has taken over as the quarterback coach due to him being injured and Arroyo's increased role in the offense:
"I think that I said this even when Josh was the starter and it hasn't changed: Josh hasn't changed at all, Josh is Josh. Josh's personality is Josh's personality. When he was the starter he was in the room with me talking through all the stuff that we're doing and we talked together openly through all the room - Mike [Glennon] and Mike Kafka, those guys have a wealth of experience. Josh has 12 years in the NFL, Kafka has bounced around for quite a few years and Mike's in his second year. I'm in my first year in the NFL with a background that knows the system. I think the best thing that our room does – and Josh is a key component in it and that's not the number one reason he's here, is not to stand on the sidelines and celebrate Mike coming off the field, that's not it at all. I think his ability and his mental capacity to have what he has in the NFL, his experiences, you can't put a price on that. Him being Josh and doing those things that you mentioned I think are a huge bonus to who'd ever have a guy like that in whatever role you're on. I know we've taken that situation as far as we work really well together as a group and it helps, it definitely helps. I think it's just a bonus."
On the perception the Glennon has outplayed McCown:
"The key is perception, that's the number one word used in that. There's not a quarterback controversy that's going to be created here. We've got two good quarterbacks who I'm really excited to have in our room and whoever goes out there is going to give us a chance to win. They've both done good things, I've had opportunities to make them better and studying with me, I can make them better."
On attacking single coverage:
"I think anytime that we can find with our guys – if we can find single coverage on our guys than our guys have proven they can make some plays. If that presents itself and the opportunity is there, that's something that we would be excited about. Mike [Evans] and Vincent [Jackson] playing outside in man coverage would be nice and the chance for them to play. If that presents itself, then that would be great."
On if they would use a 'hot hand' approach when it comes to running back position:
"At this point I don't know if Coach [Tim] Spencer has a true 'hot hand' approach. I think we've got some schematic things that fit each guy, that's more of it. You game plan to what exactly those guys do without giving that away, that's kind of how we approach it. 'This is a little more his speed, this makes more sense for him' and you move in that direction."
QB Mike Glennon
On if he did any self-evaluating over the bye week:
"Yeah, we spent that time kind of self-scouting ourselves, seeing what we could do better. There's definitely areas where we feel like we can improve. Me personally, I found things that I can work on and I'm going to work on them this week in practice and hopefully it will translate onto the field on Sunday."
On what can be attributed to the offense's slow start this season:
"It's been a topic of discussion with us since Week 1. We're still searching for that answer. If we knew what it was, it would've been fixed by now. We're going to continue to try to find that answer and I know the coaches probably spent a lot of time during that bye week trying to figure it out, what's causing it and what we can do going forward. So we'll follow the coaches' direction on that and try to get things better in the first half and follow their direction on it, but we need to just execute better is what it really all comes down to."
On if he feels comfortable playing up tempo in the second half while trailing:
"I think I'm just as comfortable in the first half. Not to compare to last year, but last year, we were the exact opposite: we were good coming out and then we were not good in the second half. Last year, we didn't know the answer for that either. We have a long season ahead of us; hopefully we can get it figured out because it's playing a big part in our losses. It's something that we'll continue to work on. But I feel comfortable no huddle, huddle, whatever I'm asked to do."
On how he feels about quarterback Josh McCown returning to practice:
"It's good to see him get healthy. He's great to have around at practice. It's good to see him get back and throw it around, but it doesn't change my mindset. My mindset is to win games. No matter if he's back or not, that's what I'm preparing to do."
On if he anticipates Lovie Smith meeting with him and McCown to tell them who will start this week:
"No, not really. I'm going to prepare just like I have every week just to be the guy and I don't think anything in my preparation is going to change."
On if he thinks there will be an extra emphasis on unique blitzes in practice this week due to Minnesota head coach Mike Zimmer's utilization of blitzes:
"Yeah, they definitely mix it up. Every team kind of has their way of blitzing the quarterback and they have their certain style. You're right: they do a lot of different things, they come from different directions, they bring different guys, they drop different guys. So it's something that we'll watch all week, something that we'll discuss, something that we'll work on in the walk-throughs and at practice because it's a big part of their defense, those blitzes and scheming to make it hard to protect. We'll focus on that along with a lot of the other things that they do. But every week, protecting the quarterback is one of our, if not the biggest emphasis we have."
On if the offense is viewing the rest of the season as a new start:
"That's the approach we're taking. We're not looking back. We're going to take this as a fresh start as a team in general. We've done some good things that we can build on. But overall, we want to take everything to a higher level and play at a higher level, execute better. And this is a great week to do that. We're excited about it, feel like we have a fresh start. We are in it and we think starting this week, like Lovie said, one day at a time, one game at a time. We're excited about the rest of the season."
On if it helps to have a great teammate in McCown to compete against for the starting spot:
"Without a doubt. Having a guy with his personality and his intentions – yeah, he wants to play, but he wants to see this team succeed and he wants to help those around him, and that's just a credit to who he is as a person. That brings it to the football team. I see it, guys see it – how much he want to just help. It's probably a better question for him, but I think he just wants to see us win. It's been great to have him. It might be different if he had a different personality, but he's been nothing but helpful for me. We're definitely lucky to have a guy with his personality."
C Evan Dietrich-Smith
On the team being optimistic despite their record:
"You can even look at the teams in the past, like when the Giants started out poorly and ended up winning the Super Bowl. It's the NFL; anything can happen and we as a group, players and coaches, we all have to kind of grab hold of this thing. I think we're trying to go in the right direction, but we've got to start performing better on film, putting it out there and being better on the field."
On his impressions of the Minnesota defensive front:
"They're doing some different things than what I was used to in the past, it's a little bit more of what [Mike] Zimmer does now, than what Leslie [Frazier] used to do in the past and in that aspect, they're in a transition mode, but I think they're doing some good things on their defense. It will be a good challenge. Zimmer's defense has historically been tough to go against and they're headed in the right direction. The guys on the edges are doing a good job. They're getting after the quarterback pretty good right now, but we have to do our job as a group up front. As an offense, we need to put points on the board and let our defense go out there and attack."
WR/KR Trindon Holliday
On what he brings to the return game as far being able to make a big play:
"With the fumbles, you just have to take care of the ball. I think I bring a nice return game and being able to make the first guy miss and get vertical and get going."
On what's it like to play for a coach in Lovie Smith who values special teams:
"It's great to come out and play for a coach that puts emphasis on special teams; it's a key part of the game: offense, defense and special teams. I'm just going to come out week-by-week and day-by-day and make sure we get it together during the week in practice."
On what he attributes his return success to:
"It's the guys that are blocking for me. Once the guys do their jobs on blocking, I just do my job on returns."