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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Buccaneer Quotes: Lengthy Injury Report

Tampa Bay may have a healthy Josh McCown ready to step back in at quarterback, but new ailments have put a question mark on several other key starters, including CB Alterraun Verner

Photos from Wednesday's practice at One Buccaneer Place.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers had exactly two running backs active for their Week Nine game in Cleveland, which at the very least made the personnel decisions easy for Running Backs Coach Tim Spencer. Buccaneer coaches should have a lot more to work with in the offensive backfield in Week 10.

The Bucs could have up to five backs active against the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday, though there are still a couple question marks in that group, most notably the ankle injury that kept starter Doug Martin out of the Cleveland contest. Martin did not practice Wednesday and rookie Charles Sims, who was just activated from the injured reserve/designated for return list four days ago, was also limited to start the week.

Still, Martin and Sims are possibilities for Sunday's game, where they would join tailbacks Bobby Rainey and Mike James and fullback Jorvorskie Lane, who has just come back from a two-game commissioner's suspension. The timing of Lane's return could prove serendipitous for the Bucs, who had been using tight end Luke Stocker as a lead blocker. Stocker missed the second half of the Cleveland game with a hip injury and was not able to practice on Wednesday.

Given the good work Rainey has done in his three starts in place of Martin this year (133.3 combined rushing and receiving yards per outing), the Bucs' running game should be in good hands even if Martin and/or Sims is not active. Still, play-caller Marcus Arroyo would prefer to have all of the Bucs' backfield weapons at his disposal.

"I think having a stable like that is really nice," said Arroy. "Those guys have all proven they can be viable in the attack. I'm excited to have all of those guys as part of a unit and I think they all bring things that they've shown that can be productive. Having J-Lane back, having Doug, the way Bobby has played, having Charles back for the first time. You can't just throw it out there and put it all on [Sims], that's not the point. I'm excited to see how the week goes because all those guys have done things that can be productive. We're fortunate to have that stable."

Tampa Bay's first injury report of the week actually ran 10 deep, as the gains of the recent bye week have begun to fade with a new round of bumps and muscle pulls. Starting left tackle Anthony Collins missed the Cleveland game with a foot injury and was still sidelined on Wednesday. Wide receiver Vincent Jackson was held out with a knee issue but Head Coach Lovie Smith expressed hope that Jackson would be back on the practice field Thursday. And perhaps most significantly, given the imminent arrival of Falcon wideouts Julio Jones and Roddy White, starting left cornerback Alterraun Verner is new to the injury report with a hamstring ailment.

Not on the list is quarterback Josh McCown, who will be returning to the starting lineup on Sunday, seven weeks after he sustained a thumb injury against the same Falcons. McCown said he has no lingering issues with the thumb on his throwing hand.

"I wasn't going to dress until we felt good about it and it's gotten better every week," he said. "It feels good and it improved. Two weeks ago I dressed and the thing is you don't want to dress without being ready to go and feeling like you can help your team. I feel I can do everything I can do. It's not fair to the team to go out there not being able to do everything that you're supposed to do at this position. I feel good."

The health of the roster wasn't the only issue being discussed on Wednesday at One Buccaneer Place. Below are some additional thoughts from a selection of Tampa Bay's coaches and players.


Head Coach Lovie Smith

Opening statement:
"Guys that didn't practice today: Anthony Collins still is nursing that foot injury so he wasn't able to go; Vincent Jackson, a little soreness – he should be good to go tomorrow; Doug Martin; Luke Stocker has a hip injury; and Alterraun Verner has a hamstring [injury]. The rest of the players were all able to at least practice on a limited basis. Tough, physical game last time. A few more things have kind of carried over a little bit. Beyond that, we realize who we're playing, we realize what happened last time, division opponent, home game – there's a lot of stuff riding on this game. We did make a change at the quarterback position as most of you know. The guy that we started the season with is healthy now, ready to go. So he'll be running our offense this week."

On if quarterback Mike Glennon would still be the starter if he had performed better the past few games:
"I can't [answer] hypotheticals."

On if quarterback Josh McCown earned the starting job back because of the performance of Glennon:
"As I said, Josh was the starter before he got hurt. He's healthy – he's back in. Haven't looked that much further than that into it."

On if he was blindsided by Glennon announcing McCown as the starter on his weekly radio show yesterday:
"Blindsided? No. Absolutely not. I talked to Mike – here in today's world, you can't keep many things secret. It's not like I was going to keep that secret. As soon as I got a chance to tell you, I was going to. No big deal at all. It was eventually going to come out."

On if he regrets that Glennon was the one that made the announcement:
"No issue with me at all."

On if he feels bad for Glennon because he was the one that made the announcement:
"Feel bad for Mike in that way? I'm not into 'feel bad' for anybody. We're trying to win football games. It's as simple as that. If I make changes, I talk to that person then – which I did – and I go through the proper channels that I need to to get things like that out. I feel good about that. When it came out, who did it – that's just low on the totem pole for me right now."

On what factored into picking McCown as the starter this week:
"I think it's the same with every position: you look at the production and what we're getting at the time. I think we need better play at the quarterback position right now. So you start with that. Then I'm going to go back – he was our starter before an injury. You need a little boost. And it's like that with all positions. If the play isn't what we think it should be, we're going to look and see if there's another option that we can look at. That's where we're at right now."

On what McCown starting says about Glennon's future:
"It doesn't say anything except for right now Josh is our quarterback. I said Mike is the quarterback of the future. As we move Mike into that role, I'd say the future came a little bit quicker than I thought. But now our starter is back. That's all you should look into is that."

On if Glennon is still the quarterback of the future:
"Nothing has changed. Mike has gone back in the same position he was when we started."

On what he is expecting from McCown against Atlanta considering how he fared earlier this season:
"That was a long time ago and we as a football team, we're a lot farther along right now. Josh will say that he'd like to have a couple of throws back. But overall, the play, I think we're headed in the right direction. When you start a season – you have a couple of plays you would like to have back – but for the most part – if I didn't feel good about what he would do for us, we wouldn't go this direction. We think that we're doing some good things right now, and if that quarterback position can give us a few more plays, we can take off."

On if McCown will be playing with a better offensive group this time around:
"Record doesn't show it right now, but we're a better football team right now. Offensively, yes. Our offensive line did some good things last time out. I think receiver-wise, you look at our passing game right now – we can do some things with it. So yes, I think we're a better offensive team right now. But eventually the wins have to come and our offensive stats have to say that."

On critics reacting negatively to the decision to start McCown:
"Me answering the critics, first off, that doesn't mean a whole lot to me. What we're trying to do – and the reason why I made this decision – I think this gives us the best chance to win right now. It's not about the future or really about the past. Right now, this gives us the best opportunity to win we think. Every decision we make is just based on that simple fact. That's the equation we go through."

On what can be done on special teams to prevent blocked kicks:
"[Having a blocked field goal and blocked punt in the same game] normally doesn't happen. Normally as a head football coach, you don't have to talk about it happening twice in eight games. What do we do? We work the special teams hard. That's not a common play that you see – I'm talking about as far as the field goal [block] is concerned – for a guy to time it just right like that to be able to hop over and block it. But it happened. The twist that got us on the punt [block] was another one that shouldn't happen. Don't have a lot of reasons why. We have to get it fixed – can't happen again. One time is too many. Of course two – we've used up all of our mulligans on that for sure."

On if he needs to remind the players about the loss to Atlanta earlier this year or if he senses the players are aware of it:
"As a competitor, I don't even think you have to mention it – even though I have. I don't think we really have to mention what happened, our feelings. I can give you the play-by-play – we can probably give you the play-by-play by the score, by each quarter, how it was done. Very seldom does something like that happen to you. We're well aware of what happened the first time around and we're just appreciative that we get an opportunity to redeem ourselves and play them again. This time, we need to play a lot better."

On how quarterbacks coach Marcus Arroyo has done calling plays and if he sees improvement in his abilities:
"I think as a football team we've all gotten better as we've gone along. Marcus would tell you that he'd like to have a call back from the last time we played – last Sunday's game. But we had a lot of opportunities offensively to really do some things against our last opponent and I feel real good. It was a good gameplan that put our guys in position to make a lot of plays. Of course, Marcus, just like the rest of our offensive staff – this is game nine coming up? We should be a lot better now than we were earlier."

On the performances of running back Bobby Rainey and offensive lineman Oniel Cousins against Cleveland stepping in for injured starters:
"Again, a lot of what I go on is based on what happened last. Oniel Cousins played a pretty good football game – his best game he's played. Bobby Rainey – when we were really running the football and committed to running the ball in that game Sunday – got a lot of positive yards. Both of those players have done good things for us. There's reason to be confident that they can keep the train going in the right direction while some of our starters get back."

On how important this divisional game is after dropping the first three of the season:
"There's a lot of critical things we have to do. With a 1-7 record – of course that's not good – but you look at the big picture of being just three games down in our division, getting a chance to play all of the division opponents again, that's what gives us confidence and gives us hope. So it's important. One of our goals is to win our division, and we're in a division – even with our record – we're in the division race. Yes, they swept us the first time around. But as I said, we're a better football team now, so we have an opportunity to do something about that."

Quarterbacks Coach Marcus Arroyo

On quarterback Josh McCown being named the starter for Sunday's game:
"We brought Josh in here to be our starter. He had two games and broke his thumb, had 68 attempts. He had one game he sat out as a backup and is not healthy again, so we've got to give him an opportunity to see if he can succeed."

On the final drive against Cleveland and throwing the ball on second-and third-and-one:
"There are opportunities in all the games - like I said before in the past - where you can look back and say 'I wish I would have done that, I wish I would have done that, I should've called it there, sure, I'll run the ball on first down and gain the advantage.' We took the opportunity and gave it to our franchise guy and our first-round draft pick. I don't regret the call."

On McCown's skillset as opposed to Glennon's:
"I wouldn't say there's anything that's grossly different. Josh has an escape dimension - something that has stood out in his career - obviously after the play breaks down a little bit. Outside of that, again, I've talked about both those guys, at length, on numerous occasions that both have intangible skill sets and character traits that we like both physically and mentally and now we've got to go ahead and continue to try to grow to get that to where it needs to be. We've had flashes of times where we've been where we want to be and other times where we've had to take more advantage of those situations. Both those guys have done a great job preparing, no matter which role they were in - Mike or Josh, starter or backup. My hat's off to them [with] the way they prepare and they'll do the same thing. I trust in that."

On the team not running the ball in the second half as they had in the first half against Cleveland and how much tight end Luke Stocker's injury affected that:
"I think any time you have an opportunity where you've got a package and it kind of goes limited a little bit and then you have to put in another guy, you might have an opportunity to where the guy backing him up might not have as [many] reps. Their plan in the second half was to stop the run a little bit because we were running the ball pretty well. We were moving the ball well, we thought we were doing some good things. Luke has done a great job and hopefully he's back again because he's really come in and gave us an impact role that he's done a great job with. To lose him - no matter how that game turns out or what you're doing - obviously hurts you because he's got an important role and he's done a great job with it. We tried to stay the course with what we were doing and they did some things differently to stop that. It's a little bit of chess: you're outside-inside inside-outside. I thought our guys did a good job, just didn't execute when we needed to and finish that game. It's unfortunate, but we're bouncing back, ready to go."

On he and Coach Smith meeting with Glennon to inform him that McCown would be the starter:
"Without getting into obviously confidential player-coach meetings, our meetings were independent of each other. Me and Mike just had a one-on-one conversation about where we're at and how I felt and stuff like that. I won't get into the exact specifics, if you understand that. With Lovie's meeting, he'll, I'm sure, state on that. I can't speak for Lovie's meeting."

On what Glennon was not doing that the team was looking for:
"I think he's done a lot of really good things. I think the thing at our position right now - we've just got to take care of the ball. We've got to execute, at all positions, we've got to execute the plays that we're asked to execute and put ourselves in position to win. We've had opportunigies where both of them [Glennon and McCown] at different times have had chances where we needed to execute and maybe we've taken a step back. Other times, they've put us in position and we've got to finish it [in] one form or fashion. I don't have any reasons to believe that both those guys aren't going to continue to be capable guys for us."

On offensive lineman Oniel Cousins' performance at left tackle:
"Did a great job. We were really excited about the way he played. I think he stepped into that role and really did a really nice job. He graded out well. I'm excited to see him with another week, just to continue to help us out. He did a really nice job in that game. We pointed it out during the game and after the game it's what we thought, so another week will be really nice."

On if the team thinks that Cousins will be the left tackle this week and how close tackle Anthony Collins is to returning:
"I'll let Coach [Lovie Smith] talk about starting roles, that's really his meeting with you guys. I thought Oniel did a great job and so I'm excited to see him work again this week."

On the offense's development throughout this season:
"I think guys are evolving a little bit. You can see the flash of certain guys and development at times. I think their flash needs to be consistent as a group. Mike [Evans] is really coming along. Josh has got 68 attempts on the year in two games. I know what he's capable of, I saw some of that stuff - we've all seen it. He's put himself in position at some point in his career to be at the top of this league and he did it. If you're able to do that, you've got to be able to find that and I don't think you're going to find it in the first year of a program and a new offense in under 68 snaps. Hopefully we get more development, to see more of it and if we can get there - it's my job to help get him there. I'm optimistic and excited to do so. Again, my hat's off to them, the way they come to work every day. They're here at the same time, same bat channel and that's exactly what you ask - to stay the process."

On wide receiver Mike Evans gaining comfort in the offense and adapting to the NFL:
"I think that's evident and I think he's putting some fear in some guys. He's playing faster, things are clicking a little bit more. When you're in a system for so long and then you come in and it's a new league, it's a new system, it's more ball, it's different sides of the field - there's a lot of things that come in [to play]. Just like anything else, it's just brand new and he's really taking a step, it seems, every week and we're excited about that because obviously he's a difference maker and we'll continue to push him and help him and try and guide him in a way that can really propel him into where he wants to be."

On tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins' development:
"Austin's [development] is the same thing [as Mike Evans]. Austin's come along as a tight end in the NFL. Very different in the NFL than it is in college and a new scheme and coming off an injury at one point, so I think there's a lot of that, but Austin is another weapon that will continue to be - we've got to find the percentage of balls that are targeted to those guys and really work that with those guys because they can be weapons. Austin's anther guy whose development is going to be great and we're excited about that. Every time we get a chance with those young guys - just another day another walkthrough, another meeting is really good."

On how much he feels he has improved as a play-caller after having held the position for eight games:
"It's hard to imagine that I don't feel better, obviously, because I think you learn a little bit about yourself as well as your guys when you get a chance as a coach. Between the five hours of sleep, you take 20 seconds and think about what you're getting better at, but you get a better feel. I'm getting a better feel for what our guys do well and we're talking about, as a staff, what we do well and how to cut packages and slim packages up and put guys in positions to do that. You see mismatches a little bit different than you do in college because of who's out there. I'd like to say that [I'm] taking a small step forward and getting a little better. That's the goal really, to get a little bit better every day, for me. It starts with getting my guys better and then we'll move from there."

On if running back Bobby Rainey's performance has earned him the starting running back position
"Again, I'll let Coach talk about exactly starting lineups. Bobby has done a great job in the time's we've allowed him to do so. Those opportunities have presented themselves in games where Doug wasn't available and he did it. I'm not going to [speak] on starting positions, but Bobby has done a great job and we're excited about - again, going back to the same question - having the stable of guys who can be productive. I think it's just a bonus. He's done a great job.

QB Josh McCown

On how he feels about the quarterback change:
"It's a hard question. As a competitor you want to play, no question [about that], but you guys know how I feel about Mike [Glennon] and just about helping a guy improve and get better. From that regard you have mixed emotions, but at the same time as a captain on the team and as a player who is on a 1-7 team, you want to do everything you can to help the team win. So if coach says 'Hey, we want you play,' then you have to get excited about the opportunity to play and I am. Everybody in there I think – it's a locker room full of guys that are really sick of losing and are wanting to find anything they can to help them get an edge to win a ballgame. We're all on the same mindset. With that being said, I'm ready to help this team."

On if he feels he has unfinished business because he didn't play as well as he wanted to early in the season:
"There will certainly be a bad taste in my mouth, but I think at this point it's just about helping the guys in the locker room and finding a way to win a ballgame and that's what matters. I think that's how it should be really and truthfully. I think that we've gone through a lot and I still think – I said that early on – we're going to face adversity and we've faced a lot of that this year and more than our fair share and I feel like we have the right guys and the right leadership in the locker room. Nobody is pointing fingers or turning on each other, everybody is coming together and so that's my mindset as far as with the opportunity to play again – it's more with where we're presently at and what do we need versus trying to right something that went bad the first time."

On what he can learn from film on his games from earlier this season:
"For me just off the top of my head, the things I did in the first three games for me, especially in the first two is what I really look at where I played the complete games are just the turnovers. I was really pleased with everything else except those things which were the turnovers. I felt like I was throwing the ball the way I wanted to throw it and I just made bad decisions and you can't do that and it just happens as a competitor. You don't want to let plays die, you want to make something happen and you just have to find a way to come to a good place within yourself where you can go 'You know what, I can trust everything that's going on, the play calling – and all of those things and I can let this play go and move on to the next one.' I think I'm in a better place with that right now."

On how hard it is for him to watch film from the Atlanta game earlier this season:
"It's brutal, you guys watched, and it's just as tough, if not tougher because it's you on the tape. It was bad and we all understand that. Those games, they happen, they get away from you and at some point in everybody's career that happens and you don't want that to happen. It's tough to watch, but certainly when you see those clips and the cutups and things like that as you're preparing for this week the sense of wanting to go out and play better than that and just within ourselves, just for ourselves go out and show each other that we're a better team than that is cool."

On why he is confident that he will play better now than he did earlier in the season:
"I think there's confidence in the sense that we've grown as a team. I know it's hard, especially when you're sitting at 1-7, and it doesn't seem like you've grown very much, but every week we improve in the things that we do, whether it's in meetings and walk-throughs and just the differences in the processes that we're going through, we're tweaking and constantly moving and getting better. I think we're a better team than we were Week One, Week Two, Week Three and I think we've grown. Moving forward, I think that's the confidence that we can take with us is knowing that we're improving and that at some point we're going to get over this hump and some of these games are going to start turning into W's – that obviously needs to start soon. We would like to see that start soon, but I think in the way that we prepare and the way we go about our business is what gives us confidence to move forward every week."

On how excited he is by Mike Evans' development:
r"I'm very [excited]. I'm believe that when you're building a program and you're building the foundation of how you're doing things you have to make good picks and those things like that. To see our seventh overall pick doing what Mike is doing and coming along, that's huge for us and I'm really pleased to see what he's done and it's reflective of the way it works and the way that he goes about practice day-in and day-out and the type of competitor he is. He's obviously got a an unbelievable skillset and [is] super talented, but more than that just his focus and his attention to detail in meetings is what's beginning to give Mike an edge. He's developing what it's going to take for him to be a pro and play at a high-level in this game and that's cool to watch a young guy take those things and start to watch his habits and what he's going to start doing to make himself into the player that he wants to be. That's been neat to watch and it's not just Mike Evans. There are a lot of guys, especially on a young team, that's happening with on our team. You see them going 'This is what it takes for me to be ready to play,' and they're learning about themselves and learning 'I have to do this a little more and I've got to do that a little more.' Mike specifically has been really cool to see him emerge like he has."

On if he anticipated becoming the starter again this season:
"I'm always prepared. I don't know if necessarily anticipated it because like I said, I've told you how I feel about Mike and I don't know if I thought it would come to this, but at the same time I've prepared every week and getting my mind ready to roll if needed. The head coach has a vision of the things that he thinks needs to get done in order for us to win ball games and at the quarterback position we've got to do those things, whether it's me or Mike. I think that question would be more for [Head Coach Lovie Smith], the decision to make the switch, but just being available and being ready and that was the thing."

On what Coach Smith told him:
"That's a meeting that he and I had behind closed doors and we'll leave that one there."

On if he wishes that it didn't come to this:
"Part of me wishes this team was winning ball games and I've said this all along. I love playing this game, I love winning, I want to be a part of a winner and I want to be a part of an organization that wins and it's not about me. If Mike was winning ballgames, I don't care [if I'm playing] and I really don't. That's what I mean when I say 'Was I expecting it?' No, because I was expecting that after the injury that Mike would take it and run with it and we would win a lot of ball games. For some reason – it's not completely on Mike – but some reason or another we have not done that. That's my main thing is I want to win games and whatever it takes to make that happen, that's what I want to see happen. I love playing this game and we play to play – don't get me wrong on that – an opportunity to go out there and play in the National Football League, especially as a starting quarterback, there's only 32 of those and that's a special privilege. I'm excited about the opportunity and I don't take that lightly, but more than anything, like I said before I started out, I just want to serve our team and help us win a ballgame with those guys in the locker room and help get that done. Whatever it takes for me to do that, whatever role that's in, I embrace that and I just want to help us win."

On if as a player he has an opinion on whether a player should lose job due to injury:
"No, because that's specific to situations, that's so hard because what happens during an injury. What does a player that comes in for him do? You see it historically time and time again: Tom Brady, Kurt Warner and all these guys that you can't really justify going back to the other guy if they do what they do. I think it's specific to every situation and that's for the leadership of that team to decide."

QB Mike Glennon

On the team's decision to go back to starting quarterback Josh McCown:
"Obviously disappointed – not what I'd like. But I'm going to keep preparing the same way I always have. I was in here all day yesterday watching film, was in here this morning with my same routine I always do, so whatever I can do to help the team, I'm going to continue to do that."

On what he will do in his role as the backup quarterback:
"I'll try to help Josh as much as I can. I don't think I have as much experience and knowledge as he does to bring to him, but in any way that I can help – just like I was doing before – that's what I'll do."

On how surprised he was at the decision to start McCown over him:
"I guess it's not what I was expecting, but it's part of the game. And like I said, [I'm] just going to help the team in whatever way I can and continue to play. Last time this happened, two and a half games in, I was playing again, so you never know what's going to happen."

On what he thinks he could have done to maintain his starting job:
"Just win. That's the bottom line: quarterbacks are judged on wins and losses and there was a lot of games there where we were right in it and we didn't win."

On his decision to announce McCown as the starter on his weekly radio show:
"There was some news out there, and we discussed it with the Bucs and we felt that that was the best way to handle it."

On his brother's tweet yesterday that was critical of head coach Lovie Smith:
"Obviously wasn't what I wanted. I talked about it. He realizes he made a mistake. But he was doing it out of frustration and love for his brother."

G Logan Mankins

On losing multiple close games this season:
"A lot of games come down to a play or two here or there. The team that makes them usually comes out on the good side of the game. So we've just got to find a way where we're making those plays and not the other team."

On the performance of the running game against Cleveland last Sunday:
"The first half went really well. We ran the ball quite a few times and got quite a few yards from it, so hopefully we can continue that."

On how he is doing mentally at this point in the season:
"It's a grind right now. We're not where we want to be and the only way I know how to get out of that is to keep working hard and keep fighting on Sundays, so I think that's what the whole team is trying to do."

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