GENERAL MANAGER JASON LICHT
(On what he has observed from QB Tom Brady during training camp that may be similar or different to when he worked with Brady in New England)
"I kind of have to go back and remember – it's been a while since I was there in New England. One thing that strikes me is that he doesn't look like he's any older. Actually, his arm looks stronger than what we saw last year on tape. His work ethic is just unbelievable and we keep saying this word, but he sets such a high standard that you find out if guys can keep up with it or if they're not quite ready. I think everybody on this team wants to reach that standard. You've got some young guys that are learning on the fly here. But, it's something – I think we said this when we signed him – that whenever he's done, let's say five years from now, that standard will remain with this team."
(On what it has been like compiling talent for this roster)
"It's been great. There have been some opportunities that may not have been there in the past. I think Tom [Brady] has a lot to do with that, obviously, but we have a lot of good football players here on this team. It's why Tom probably chose us. We're taking it one day at a time. We're not crowning ourselves champions yet by any means because we still haven't seen our team go against anybody but our own selves. That's what makes Week 1 very interesting, especially in this day and age when we have no preseason games or scrimmages. We've made some moves which we thought would have been good in any year. We've got a lot of talent, but it takes more than talent to win."
(On the role Brady played in luring other free agents to sign with the Buccaneers)
"Obviously he and Gronk (Rob Gronkowski) have a really strong bond. They're very, very tight. To say he didn't have anything to do with that would be absurd. I think, once again, a lot of players saw our team, saw how close we were despite the record last year in a lot of games and wanted to be a part of this. If Tom Brady chooses the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, they probably think to themselves, 'Why not me?' He had a part in it and I don't think he would take full credit if you asked him himself. He definitely has a part in it [and] you have to take advantage of it when you have the G.O.A.T."
(On if Brady has already paid dividends for the team despite not playing in a game)
"Yeah, he's played some big dividends in terms of also how he's showing these guys how to work, like we talked about earlier. Just how important it is to take care of your body, take care of your mind, take care of everything. You put everything into it and don't take anything for granted. There's a lot of lessons being learned here."
(On the changes he's seen from the team over recent seasons leading into this year)
"I think as these guys that we have on our team get older, get a little more experienced – and when you add some players like we've talked about that have a lot of playoff and Super Bowl experiences and rings – I think the confidence level just goes up. When you have a mature locker room – we've got a very diverse locker room. Yeah, we have Tom Brady and Gronk (Rob Gronkowski), JPP (Jason Pierre-Paul) and Lavonte [David], who have been in the league quite a while. But, we also have a lot of young players who are playing big roles for us, too. I think it's just the confidence level and expectations with a younger team – sometimes you want to tamper them down a little bit. With this group, I think expectations are welcomed. Everybody wants to live up to expectations, but they also know [that] to live up to expectations, you have to put in work. We definitely have that type of unit right now in our entire locker room."
(On how he sees the running back position shaking out)
"I'm very excited about that group. I think Shady (LeSean McCoy) has been such a good bell cow there in that room and [a] leader [who] has embraced that role. Ke'Shawn [Vaughn] really came on at the end of camp. Really, in a normal year, with the amount of reps that he's gotten he would just be getting done with OTAs at this point. Then he missed a little bit of time at training camp at the beginning, too. He's really coming into his own. Since we signed Leonard [Fournette] – who we're very excited about – RoJo (Ronald Jones II) has taken another step forward. He's welcomed the fact that we signed Leonard, who is an extremely talented guy. It'll be fun to see how all this shakes out, but I'm very excited about that group."
(On if he has worked on contract extensions for players such as ILB Lavonte David and WR Chris Godwin)
"Normally I don't talk about those things publicly, but I have had conversations. I don't ever put artificial deadlines – as an organization, we don't – on, 'We need to have a deal done by Saturday of the first week of the season. These things can extend throughout the year.' I know I'm very happy that we want them to be on our team and they want to be on this team. Usually there's a lot of optimism when you have those two things going on for you. I can't say when, but absolutely we want both of those guys on our team for the long haul."
(On what the last six weeks have been like for the organization since the team began training camp and why things have seemed to go rather smoothly)
"I'd say it starts with our head coach. A lot of times coaches get stuck on needing to make their schedules and things get them off track a little bit and it's hard to regroup because they're so focused on things. B.A. (Bruce Arians) has been awesome in terms of knowing that things change every day [and] things could change every day. We get new protocols [and] new memos every day of things that are changing. The way he's led our coaching staff and players has been outstanding. The messages that he's given the players on, 'Don't be the guy that brings this whole thing down' – the players have heard it. Everybody wants to have a special year this year, so B.A. has done such a great job of keeping everything on track despite the rough road that we have – and all teams have – right now."
(On the decision to release former K Matt Gay after one season)
"First of all, cutting any player is always tough. It's never fun. As soon as it becomes fun, then I'm in the wrong business, so it's tough. On one hand, it's also – when you think you're going to have a significant upgrade and going to have a chance to put your team in a place to win more games, it's an easy decision. You never know how it goes with things – with signings, with players – there's a lot of factors that go into it. But right now, we feel very good about Ryan [Succop]."
(On if the decision at kicker was decided because of Succop's experience kicking in the NFL)
"It came down to consistency. We want a consistent kicker. Ryan, last year, battled through an injury that he ended up having surgery on. But, before that, he was very consistent inside of 50 [yards]. I think he has the NFL record for most [consecutive] kicks inside of 50 [yards]. We worked him out here and [he] showed exactly what we thought he was on tape. He's a great guy in terms of it seems like he has a great head on his shoulders and he can take the weight of the world on his shoulders at that position, which is very important. We'll see how it goes. [I] don't have a crystal ball – I wish I would, otherwise we wouldn't have had a kicking problem here."
(On what he has seen from rookie DL Khalil Davis that earned him a spot on the roster)
"He brings an element to our D-Line – a little bit different element than the other guys – where he's just a very explosive, fast, high-motor player. All of our players work very hard and have a big motor, but he just brings an explosive element. He came in [and] he surprised us where he was in terms of picking up the playbook [and] being able to go out there right away and know what he's doing. The guy can run. It always helps when you have a 300-pound guy that runs a 4.75 [40-yard dash]. We didn't draft him off the numbers, but the numbers correlated to the way he played."
HEAD COACH BRUCE ARIANS
(On what he has learned about the COVID-19 safety precautions after watching Thursday night's game and if he plans on wearing both a mask and a shield on the sideline)
"I'll wear the mask [and] the sunglasses do the same thing. A good wraparound pair of sunglasses protects your eyes just as well as that shield does without all the fog. Hopefully not too much fog, but the fog is always the biggest problem when you wear glasses. That's about all I'll do."
(On WR Mike Evans practicing on Friday and if there is an update on his status for Sunday's game)
"He did some individual stuff today. We'll see if he's sore tomorrow. It will still probably be a game time decision."
(On if the team is likely to promote two players from the practice squad each week as additional available options for the team on Sunday)
"We'll probably promote two just in case until that last test comes in and you know that everybody's ready to play."
(On if Evans' hamstring injury is in the same leg as last season)
"I do not believe so."
(On if he believes the team is more confident entering this season than it was when it faced the Saints last year)
"I think our guys showed up [to training camp] with that kind of confidence. They've had it since the end of last season – especially defensively the way they finished up the season. Offensively, it's just a matter of getting on the same page. [They have] all the confidence in the world because everybody believes in each other. They have put the work in, so we should have plenty of swagger when we step out on the field."
(On how the team performed in practice this week)
"I thought it was outstanding. We got a lot of heat work on Wednesday and then we took it inside for the noise and got ready for the turf and the noise the last two days. Really couldn't ask for much more of them. They gave great effort – they do every day. Our guys always have shown up and worked. When I look at the accountability sheet, there's very, very few names on it."
(On if the organization has a better understanding of how to prevent the number of hamstring injuries it experienced last season)
"I think for the November and December hamstring [injuries] we overworked [the players]. When you look back at all the data that we had, we overworked our receivers some in September and October. That maybe had led to those, so we really have cut back in those areas. There's still going to be soft-tissue injuries that are just freaky. Mike [Evans] was more of a twist on a route and it was a real minor one, but it's still bugging him."
(On if he has any favorite memories of playing the first game of a new season)
"It's just been the most exciting day every year. Come out of that tunnel and to be able to do it – when you sit back and go do something else, you realize how much you miss it. It was really special last year coming out for that first one and it will be really exciting this year, too. Each year is so different, but opening day is opening day."
(On free agent OLB Clay Matthews and if the team has interest in signing him)
"We talked about it. There's a lot of financial stuff involved right now with us – to pay another veteran guy would be tough. We've talked about it. We like our young guys. He's been a good player for a long time, but I think I like our young guys better. When you bring in a veteran like that, you're taking away a spot from a special teams player, because they're not going to play on special teams. It's your whole roster, so it's another guy fitting in a situation as far as a pass-rusher. But, it's your whole football team you're affecting."
(On if Matthews would be considered if there were injuries at the outside linebacker position)
"Oh yeah. That's a different story."
(On if he prefers to have fans in the stadium right now or if he's in favor of the conservative approach teams are taking)
"I wish they were all full. I wish there were fans and all the stadiums were packed. But again, we've got to be smart [and] we've got to be safe. It was weird seeing Kansas City – having coached there and how packed that place is and how loud it is – 17,000 or however many they had. They had a good time, it looked like."
(On what he's most excited about seeing on Sunday)
"Our team. I want to go out and see our team against a really, really good team and see where we stand right now."
(On his excitement level for this season compared to previous seasons)
"I'm always excited about the next one. It's better than not being in coaching – that's for sure. I think this football team is a very close team – they have a lot of fun. It's going to be fun watching them play and hopefully we can play as well as we've been practicing."
TACKLE TRISTAN WIRFS
(On his confidence level entering the first week of his NFL career)
"I have to be as ready as I can be. It's not like the game is going anywhere – it's going to be there on Sunday. I'm excited to go out there. Everybody loves coming out of camp and being able to hit somebody new besides your own guys for however many weeks. This year, a lot of the older guys were bummed not having preseason games. I think it's just like college – coming out of camp and it's your first game. I'm excited – it's going to be fun. Get to go out there and play in an NFL stadium – I'm excited."
(On how TE Rob Gronkowski has helped with his run blocking)
"Gronk's so fun to get to play next to. I think me and him have a lot of back and forth because we have to keep communicating quite a bit on the line. I think a big part of it was just getting comfortable playing next to each other and kind of getting that back and forth after repetitions of it. Getting comfortable with each other and being able to do things quickly."
(On how T Donovan Smith has served as a mentor to him through the preseason)
"I feel like he's kind of been like a big brother to me – playing the tackle position [and] just giving me tips here and there, stuff that he's done that works for him. He's like, 'Hey, give this a try.' Stuff like that. We'll text and FaceTime sometimes, but it's been really awesome having him to talk to."