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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Tampa Bay Buccaneers



(On the status of RB Ronald Jones II and RB LeSean McCoy)

"'Shady' (McCoy) practiced – he was good. 'Ro' (Jones II) is getting better [but] he did not practice today. I anticipate and hope he can go tomorrow. [Jeremiah] Ledbetter is the other one that didn't practice – that's it. JPP's (Jason Pierre-Paul) normal [veteran day]."

(On LB Devin White's return to practice and what he brings to the defensive huddle)

"He's anxious to be back. There's a lot of energy [and] a lot of enthusiasm. Not much of a conversation [between us] – just looked at him and said, 'You look a little skinny.' Other than that, he's OK."

(On why the offense committed turnovers against New Orleans in the regular season meetings)

"I think they're a good defense. We've got to block them better and I think we know what we're doing a whole lot better now than we did then."

(On how the decrease in offensive turnovers this season has helped the defense)

"It's helped a bunch. The number of short fields we put them in last year just to start ballgames – if we didn't give up a touchdown, we gave up an interception that was in the plus-20 area. Our field position starts defensively are dramatically changed."

(On the historical significance of two quarterbacks over the age of 40 meeting in the postseason for the first time in NFL history)

"It speaks to the two guys that are playing. They take great care of themselves and are two of the best that have ever played the game. Whether they're 25 or 43 and 42 [years old], it's spectacular when those guys play."

(On his message to the team this week in preparation for Sunday's game)

"Just do your job. Do your job – you're good enough."

(On if the team believes it can beat New Orleans)

"I believe we can, but we've got to do it on Sunday night. It doesn't do us any good to talk about it now. Nothing happens on Wednesday."

(On what OL Earl Watford's experience can bring to the team)

"He can walk in any play four positions for us. Just get him back in a little bit of football shape – he stayed in pretty good condition. Just like Ted Larsen – guys that have been in this system for a while, veteran players – when you lose a guy, you try to look for veteran players rather than young guys who might not be ready."

(On what has changed for Tampa Bay's offense since it last played New Orleans)

"We just got better and better. I just think it was a matter of continually work in progress. I think back to the second half of the Kansas City game – I think if we had gotten the ball back, we might've had a chance to win that one. Things were growing each and every week, and then after the Bye [Week], everything kind of solidified itself."

(On if Tampa Bay has to change its strategy going into a third game against an opponent within a season)

"I don't know if it's strategy – just have to do what you're doing at this point in the season [well]. We're doing different things than we were doing back then, especially in the opener. Just a matter of [doing] what you do and do it better than how they do it."

(On if the Tampa Bay defense needs to zap the energy from Saints QB Taysom Hill early in Sunday's game)

"I don't know if you can zap his [energy] – that dude has energy all of the time. You stuff the runs and there's not a whole lot of energy left."

(On G Aaron Stinnie replacing G Alex Cappa)

"He's an athletic guy, he's got good strength and power and he's our best option right now."

(On if he has to warn the team about being baited into personal foul penalties in Sunday's game)

"Yeah. It's an emotional game, but you can't let your emotions get the best of you. There's going to be a lot of things said [and] a lot of fingers being pointed."

(On how QB Tom Brady's ability to get the ball out of his hands quickly has impacted Tampa Bay's success offensively)

"The protection has been great. I think knowing his receivers inside and out now – since Week 9 [when] A.B. (Antonio Brown) had just gotten here – he knows where he's going a lot faster than he did before because it was a growing process. It was a normal growing process."

(On if there was a specific instance when he felt Brady's thinking within the offensive system began to click)

"No. It's just a matter of continual growth."

(On WR Mike Evans and LB Lavonte David's performances in their first-career playoff games)

"It's fantastic. You knew they would – they're great players. Great players love the limelight [and] they enjoy the moment. No guys do it better than those two."


(On what the win last week meant to him)

"It meant a lot. I haven't been to the playoffs – it was my first time, first game in the playoffs. I was excited to play, it was great weather [and] we had a great week of preparation. It just meant a lot to be out there and to try to make plays to help my team win. The goal is to do enough each week to play the next week, so that's what we're doing this week."

(On the Buccaneers-Saints rivalry)

"It's definitely a great rivalry. When we play each other, [there] is a lot of emotion, a lot of physicality. As players, we love it – we love this rivalry. I know the fans love it. I would say it is our biggest rivalry."

(On how the team has improved since the prior two meetings this season vs. the Saints)

"I feel like we're getting healthier. Our roster, I feel like, is the most talented roster in the league. We started off as a good team because we just have a lot of great players on our team. But now, we're forming into a great team. We've just got to keep going each week, battling, finding ways to get better and finding ways to win tough games."

(On who he heard from after becoming the first player in NFL history with 1,000-or-more receiving yards in each of his first seven seasons)

"I got a lot of love from a lot of my family, my friends and people that I care about. [Plus], a lot of people that I look up to – D. Wade (Dwyane Wade), LeBron [James] and guys like that. That's awesome – I'll never be too big to not appreciate that. Like [those are] some of my childhood heroes and they're paying homage and showing love to me. It means a lot. Randy [Moss] – he didn't reach out to me this time, [but] last year he did. He doesn't have to. I know Randy – he's a great guy, a hell of a player and one of the best to ever do it. It is an awesome record and I'm proud of it." 


(On how his body feels at this point in the season compared to previous seasons when he wasn't splitting carries as much)

"Yeah, I'm good. I'm fresh to be honest. I think my total carries for this year is around 100 (97) – usually around this time I'm at 300-something to be honest. Like I say, 'Everything happens for a reason.' I'm just happy to be a part of the team. [I am] doing my job to help the team get to where we want to be and what we want to win."

(On where the team can make some improvements facing the Saints for the third time this season)

"Well, we know they've been together for a long time, so their chemistry is great, number one. I think we're getting there as a whole [with] our team on offense. We just have to find ways to execute and not shoot ourselves in the foot with the small penalties. It's taking it play by play. It's going to be a dog fight. They've been here before. It's our first time together – our first time being here – so we've got to come with our 'A' game and fight."

(On playing at this point in the year is what he envisioned for the Buccaneers when he signed with them in the fall)

"Yeah, I did, most definitely. I knew I could come in and help the team out. The first guy that hit me when it happened was Tom [Brady]. I've [known] Tom and Tom hit me like, 'Man, I would love for you to come help us out.' And the first thing – who wouldn't want to play with Tom? Now that I'm here, I've just surrounded myself with a great group of people – Chris [Godwin], Mike [Evans], Cap (Alex Cappa), Ryan [Jensen] – a lot of those guys I didn't know at first. I love it here, to be honest. We have a brotherhood. It's going fine right now. We're working our tails off each and every day to make each other better and that's what we're doing. That's the best thing about football, is the unity."


(On how the team gets over the mental hurdle having lost to New Orleans twice in the regular season)

"We just focus on ourselves, honestly. On any given Sunday, any team can win, so if we focus on ourselves, go out there and handle our business, I like us. I like where we stand, and I like our guys. I'm sure they're going to come out there, be fired up and be ready to go, but it's our job to come out, be competitive and put our best foot forward."

(On how Tampa Bay's offense has changed since its Week 9 meeting against New Orleans)

"I think we've just been going through our growing pains throughout the season, which happens whenever you have a new quarterback. It takes some time to build that chemistry and I think over the last couple of weeks we've done a better job of doing that. We're still working on it. I don't know if much has changed outside of that. We're just a little bit more confident and executing a little better. We have to do a better job of that moving forward."

(On how impressed he was with WR Mike Evans' ability to play in Tampa Bay's Wild Card Game at Washington)

"It was very impressive. Honestly, being here for four years now and seeing Mike work and seeing the kind of guy he is, I wasn't particularly shocked. He's a very tough guy, he's a fierce competitor and I knew there wasn't going to be much that was going to be able to stop him from playing in his first playoff game."


(On how the defense can impact Saints QB Drew Brees and limit his ability to extend plays)

"I think we've got to let our guys just be [themselves]. We can't overdo anything and we can't get out of our means. We've got Jason Pierre-Paul and we've got Shaq [Barrett], so we've got to let those guys get after him because that's what they do [and] that's what we pay them to do. We need to let them do it. We've got to stay sound in the front with our two tackles without letting them push the pocket and let the outside guys do what they've got to do. I think the thing that [can] throw Drew Brees of is we've just got to be physical with the receivers, tight ends and the running backs. Don't let them play pitch and catch – I think that will be the biggest 'it factor' for us. If we come out physical and we get our hands on those guys, I think we'll do a great job."

(On how he combines his enthusiasm to return to the field with remaining technically sound)

"It's Week [19] now. I'm a pro. I study the game. It helps that this is our third time [playing New Orleans], so I know the plays [and] I know the formations. I'm studying it even more and I just know that I've got to be in my spot. It's basically a 'do your job' thing. I can't go out there and try to overly make plays because I haven't played in two weeks. I know every man has a certain gap [and] I know every man needs to be in a certain spot on the defense. I'm not going to try to overshadow my team for my own success just to make a play. I think that's the number one thing – I respect Todd Bowles' system and I know he's going to put me in position to make plays. When it's time to make a play, I'm going to make a play. When I'm not making a play, I'm going to be doing my job. If it causes me to [cover] the running back flair, then I'm going to take the running back. But, to play the back side, I need to stay home and do my job. That's the number one thing and that's what we're preaching. It's team ball [and] team ball is going to win this game. Everybody staying together for four quarters."


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