Tampa Bay Buccaneers



(On his evaluation of where the team stands through five games)

"We did a bunch of self-scouting. There's a lot of good things. The biggest negative thing is there are games where we have too many self-inflicted penalties and put ourselves behind the chains. Does it happen every week? No. But when they happen, they happen in bunches and we have to correct that. I think offensively things [have gone] really, really well up until last week with the red zone. We're still running the ball well – third-down conversion could be better, but they're going to be better if we don't get in third-and-long all the time. Defensively, again, just technique [and] getting our head around on back-shoulder fades, those type of things. [We are] playing very aggressive [and] doing a great job against the run. We've got to do a better job of getting off third down, also. [We are] playing penalty-free football on special teams really well. Our return game is picking up a little bit. [Bears WR Cordarrelle] Patterson brought a bunch of kickoffs back, but when you come from nine[-yards] deep [in the end zone] and you really get to the 26 or 27[-yard line], you only gain two or three yards. So, it wasn't that bad of a kickoff return against a great returner. I think we're in great shape. Obviously, [losing] Vita [Vea] and O.J. [Howard] – we'll have time to get plans to replacing them. Everybody should be ready to go by Thursday."

(On the plan to replace DL Vita Vea on the defensive line)

"It'll be Nacho (Rakeem Nunez-Roches). We'll rotate Khalil [Davis] in there and Anthony Nelson could play inside. We've got a bunch of different things that we can do. No one's going to be Vita, but Todd [Bowles] has a good plan."

(On the running backs who are expected to return from injury this week)

"I think, hopefully, by Thursday we should have all four guys out there. Ke'Shawn [Vaughn] is healthy [and] RoJo (Ronald Jones II) is healthy. We'll see about Leonard [Fournette] and Shady (LeSean McCoy). Same thing with the wide receivers – hopefully by Thursday we should have everybody out there."

(On Green Bay's rushing attack and if stopping the run will be critical this week)

"There's no doubt. They've got a good stable of backs – very versatile backs. They look like wide receivers when they're split out wide. They spread you out [and] run the ball really, really well out of the spread. [They] mix it up with a lot of motion – kind of like everybody's doing in the league right now. When they break a tackle, they've got enough speed to take it to the house. The big, chunk runs are something we've got to shut down."

(On Packers QB Aaron Rodgers and how you attack a quarterback who doesn't make many mistakes)

"He's playing at a really high level. One thing [is] you have to get after him – that's for sure. You can't play scared. Knowing that the ball is going up – back-shoulder throws, he's the best there is. You've got to cover your guys [and] you've got to do a great job. I think more so [it is] the improvisational plays when he gets out of there. That's really when he's at his best."

(On if there is a silver lining to many younger players receiving time on the field while veterans missed games with injuries)

"I love the depth. I thought we've had good depth all along, I'd just like to see those guys that are playing in games practice with Tom [Brady]. Just because they play in games, there's still a lot to be done when the quarterback doesn't see them live [in practice]. Hopefully we can get guys running at least by Thursday so he can see the spacing in routes and the gameplan of the guys that are going to be playing on Sunday."

(On what Packers QB Aaron Rodgers does to limit mistakes and turnovers throughout his career)

"He's really smart. It is a new system – he's in his second year of it – but they've tailored it a lot to what he likes. He's got good weapons around him – some aren't big-name guys, but they're really good players – and he trusts them. His release is quick, he's extremely accurate and, again, he's probably as good of a deep ball, back-shoulder guy as there is in the league."

(On QB Tom Brady vocalizing his frustrations with the offensive line following the penalties that were committed last week)

"Just be yourself. I don't have any problem with it. At least I don't have to go back there and cuss them out – they've already gotten an earful by the time I get over there. Tom's got to be Tom. I'm not going to ask him to be somebody different. He does a good job of patting them on the back, too. He might explode, but he's going to go down there, pat them on the back and get them going."

(On if the team has addressed the number of penalties it has committed in its first five games)

"We address it every single day since we got back here whenever we got here."

(On how players have overcome serious injuries and successfully returned to the field)

"I've got to tip my hat to [Washington QB] Alex Smith. What he did in that rehab to get [back] – I was cheering for him because of what he's gone through. I know [Cowboys QB] Dak [Prescott] – he's an extremely strong-willed person. He'll bounce back [and] Vita [Vea] will bounce back. You hate to see it. [Tyler] Eifert in Cincinnati has had a couple of those really bad [injuries], but he's played. It's amazing what doctors in sports science can do. You hate to see it, but it is part of the game."


(On how he is able to step in after watching a teammate suffer a severe injury)

"It's always been about the next man up. Seeing one of your brothers go down like that – it's heartbreaking. Since I came in the league, adversity has always challenged me. (Former Chiefs NT) Dontari Poe went down before and I had to do the same thing again – step in and fill big shoes."

(On how his experience filling in as a starter in Kansas City prepared him for his role with the Buccaneers)

"It was great. Like I said, I've been there before. To be honest with you, it's not a big shocker as far as my role having to increase, because every time I come to work – and in my whole offseason – I'm preparing to be a starter. If you're preparing to be a backup, you're in the wrong game. I come to work as if I'm going to be out there playing 50-60 plays. If it doesn't happen, it doesn't happen. I fit where I'm supposed to be at. For my role to change, it doesn't change my preparation [and] it doesn't change my mentality. It's just understanding [that] my role is bigger, and I have the opportunity. Don't count the plays – make the plays count."

(On how important his mentality of preparing to be a starter has been in his career)

"Something can happen at any moment. You don't want to be sitting there, 'I'm preparing for five plays or 10 plays.' One day someone wakes up with a stomach sickness and now you're in there for 40 plays and it shows in your preparation. You're out there making mistakes, losing downs or you're getting cut out of your gap because you didn't put yourself in the best situation to be successful. When the opportunity comes, you just want to be ready. I always prepare like I'm that guy [and] I'm going to be out there for 40 plays. Regardless of what happens on Sunday, I feel like I'm going to be out there for 40 plays. I always play like that [and] I always come to work like that. It's just my joy, so I take pride in what I do."


(On the key to the defensive line remaining successful against the run)

"I guess it's just the willpower. With this defense, I don't think anybody can run on us. We take too much pride in letting the team come up here and just try to run on us and try to get it going – as well as the passing, too. I think with Vita [Vea] gone due to his injury, the next guy is going to step up and do what they need to do. Bruce [Arians] always says, 'Talent isn't the thing for us. It's just the next guy stepping up.' I know he's going to do a great job."

(On DL Rakeem Nunez-Roches' ability to step up in DL Vita Vea's absence)

"I think he has the perfect opportunity to show what he's got. Obviously, he's never been in a situation like this before and I'm actually excited for him. I'm sad that Vita's gone, but at the same time, he gets to show the world and showcase his talent. Nacho, he's actually a good player, too. He just hasn't had the playing time so you could see. I'm actually waiting for Nacho to get out there and see what he can do."

(On if there is a balance between learning from a disappointing loss as opposed to forgetting it completely)

"It was a disappointing loss. I feel like everybody in the locker room knew we should've won that game and we didn't play to our full expectation. That's just what it is. I'm speaking for myself right now – I don't dwell on the games that have been played that we lost, or on the games that have been played that we win. I try to play each game individually and game by game. That's just basically what I do. I don't look at the loss and criticize myself. I do within that Monday, but then it's all over and done and I move on to the next."


(On DL Rakeem Nunez-Roches stepping into the nose tackle role in place of the injured Vita Vea)

"He brings the same type of playing style. Obviously, he's not Vita and Vita's not him, [but] I just feel like we won't have a lack of production from the nose spot with him being in there. That is just [a credit to] the type of guys we've got all around the board. I'm very comfortable with him being there and I know Lavonte [David] is very comfortable playing behind him because he comes in the games to spell Vita a lot. We're just going to keep this thing rolling. Hopefully people run the ball against us – well, at least try to run the ball against us – because me and Lavonte need to make some plays."

(On the change in routine having extra days off after playing on Thursday Night Football)

"The only tough thing about it is you're sitting on that loss for a long time and you're ready to get back to work to fix the problems and get back on the right track. I think that's the toughest thing. As far as just being off, I think everybody was cool with having a couple rest days, especially after going Sunday and then Thursday. If everybody feels like me, they're ready to be back out there and ready to be working. This morning everybody came to work with a great attitude, and it showed. You can see the execution and stuff being there. We've just got to stack one day at a time all the way until Sunday. When the ball gets put out there on the field Sunday, we've got to be ready to play and execute."

(On facing Packers RB Aaron Jones)

"This guy, he's another Alvin Kamara as far as like route-running. He runs the whole route tree, which is good. It will give me a chance to go make some interceptions or something. As far as the run game, he's very patient, but he runs really hard. They've got a lot of guys that are coming in, running the ball and making plays. They do a lot of 21 [personnel]. They even went 31 [personnel] a couple of times – that means they've got three running backs in the game at one time. That just lets you know how much they value their running backs. That's a good thing for me because I mean my confidence is always high, but I've started fiending for some plays with the way these last games went. I just know my body is ready and my mindset is ready to go make plays. I'm not really worried about how much he does. I'm starting to think about what teams have got to do to do great things on the Tampa Bay defense. That's how I'm starting to take the approach. I know it's kind of a cocky approach, but I feel like we deserve it. I feel like we're playing good ball and I feel like we're steadily getting better."