HEAD COACH BRUCE ARIANS
(On RB Ronald Jones II and his growth throughout training camp)
"I think the biggest thing is in the passing game. He's really, really improved his hands. He had one bad day where he dropped the ball, and then he fixed it. It's all concentration. His blitz pickup has been good – he's worked on his pass protection and he looks like he can be an all-around back."
(On OLB Shaquil Barrett's mindset and how he improves his ability as a pass rusher)
"He learned a lot from those guys (his teammates in Denver) – he's got a huge tool box. He's got more than two or three [pass-rush moves]. Shaq is very, very slippery [and] he knows it. He uses it every day – he tries new stuff all the time. He's been great work for Tristan Wirfs and that's been a great battle to watch that over there. Shaq – he's legit."
(On the options available at the nickel cornerback position)
"It could be a number of guys. It could be Mike Edwards, it could be [Antoine] Winfield, Mazzi [Wilkins], Ryan Smith – we trained a lot of guys at nickel just in case, so we have at least five or six guys that – if there were problems during a game – we could substitute guys in."
(On the overall depth in the secondary)
"I feel fine. Mazzi [Wilkins] has been solid, [Parnell] Motley had a hell of a camp, Ryan [Smith] has had a good camp, D'Cota Dixon and [Javon] Hagan – they've been impressive at times. There's good, quality depth and we'll be releasing good players."
(On the importance of Ronald Jones II and other young running backs watching film to learn from their mistakes in pass protection)
"That's usually the thing that makes them fail as a rookie – or a sophomore, even – is pass protection, because they don't do it very often in college. Especially [blocking] a big linebacker up the middle. It's a mindset when you go and block Devin [White] or Lavonte [David] straight up the middle in the 'A' gap. That's why we have that drill twice in camp just to get them used to the noise level and what's going to happen in there. That's the biggest learning curve for all running backs."
(On Jones developing more confidence as he progresses in his career)
"I wasn't here for his rookie year, so I can't really comment on it. He was solid last year – he was growing each week as a player – a very young player. [He] was a one-trick pony runner, only. He's grown into, possibly, a three-down player."
(On how K Ryan Succop has performed in practice)
"He kicked well yesterday. I gave both of them (Succop and Matt Gay) off today to get them ready for tomorrow in the stadium. He's got a 12 or 13-year résumé, so it's just seeing if he's healthy, watch the competition and see how it goes."
(On how far along the team is in terms of hitting and physicality after not playing any preseason games)
"We tackled ourselves way more than we ever have. We won't do that [tomorrow]. We'll wear shoulder pads tomorrow just for protection, like a Wednesday practice. Tomorrow's just about getting back in the stadium, getting back in the environment a little bit and just having a good, solid practice versus our first three opponents and looking at different stuff that they do. I think we're where we need to be."
(On if the team has a defensive back who is able to shadow the opponent's best wide receiver around the field)
"I think Carlton [Davis] stepped up at the end of the season last year. He had DeAndre Hopkins, he had Michael Thomas, he had Julio [Jones] – each guy is so different and we gameplan them all differently, but he shadowed those guys some and I thought he held his own more than not."
(On if that is an important skill to develop)
"I'd like to have two corners that could do it. I'm not afraid – when we go to nickel – for [Jamel] Dean to do it because he's big and strong and he's got the length. Same thing with Sean [Murphy-Bunting]. That's why we like those long, tall guys that are fast. They can matchup with these tall, fast receivers. But you've got physicality when you talk about Mike [Thomas], DeAndre [Hopkins] and, especially, Julio [Jones] that comes into play. I think they held their own last year and I feel pretty solid about that."
(On if there was ever a time he questioned if the NFL season would take place)
"If you asked me in June, I would've said there's no way. But, if you ask me now, I don't see any reason why not. It's just a matter of the commitment of everybody that's in Tier 1 and Tier 2 to stay safe and don't bring it into the building. It's a big transition weekend. Guys are getting cut, people are moving into apartments, they're finding new places to live – guys that make the team – so this will be a huge, huge weekend for that."
(On the passing of former Buccaneer Lee Roy Selmon and the importance of the organization remembering his legacy both on and off the field)
"I think it's huge. Those are the guys that laid all the foundation. I never met him, but I had total respect knowing him as a player [and] watching him as a player. He was one of the best of all time. You have highways and stuff named after you – that's pretty damn good. It's important to remember that."
(On if cutting players from the team gets easier for him the longer he coaches in the league)
"Worst day of the year – it always is. You're watching guys livelihoods. With the extended practice squad this year you give some more guys hope, but it's hard. They're putting everything they have into it and sometimes you're cutting the guy that gives you more [effort] than everybody else, but he's just not quite as talented. Those are the hardest."
(On position groups that will be the most difficult to trim down)
"There's no doubt – the inside and outside linebacker rooms, and the safety room. Those are guys who are still battling for jobs as we speak."
(On if tackling across the league will be less sound early in the season due to the absence of preseason games)
"I think it's going to be a shock to some people. There is no doubt. You hate hitting each other, but you had to do it this year to get some tackling in because it's a blocking and tackling game. I know everybody likes to see the ball in the air, but somebody's got to block for that to happen and somebody's got to tackle. Missing those preseason games – really, the preseason practices, also. We were set up with Jacksonville and Tennessee that we missed out on, so they got tired of hitting each other. You go against the same guy every day, you kind of know all his moves, so it gets old real fast. To do it for three weeks is tough."
(On if the absence of preseason games and live tackling will result in more injuries this season)
"I don't know about the injuries, but we're going to see more missed tackles, I think."
(On the competition for the third wide receiver position)
"It will probably depend on the play and the personnel group. Justin Watson has had a hell of a camp, Scotty [Miller] has had a great camp. If they're our one and our two [options], I'm fine. They're battling, it will be just whatever personnel group we put them in for [and] whatever we're looking for on that single play. Those two guys, they're locked in solid and the five and six spots are still a battle."
(On if he has a history with K Ryan Succop)
"Just seeing him kick for a long time. That consecutive [made field goal] streak, it was pretty impressive for a long, long time. You could tell he got injured."
(On how he has adjusted to the uniqueness of this training camp and how he has enjoyed it compared to previous seasons)
"It's always fun to be around the guys. This one's added pressure as far as getting things done. It's a shame we couldn't look more at young guys. I hate it for the young guys, but hopefully we can expand the practice squad and get them serious looks down the road in season and have guys that we can stick in, in case of emergency. For me it's been a blast – it's been very challenging. Sometimes you fall into a routine [and] it gets old. This one hasn't gotten old – that's for sure. I've been wearing a mask all the time."
(On S Mike Edwards' potential)
"I think he can be really solid. Mike is a ball hawk – he gets his hands on, probably, more balls than anybody back there. He's got good range. His bugaboo has been tackling and using his arms. He missed a couple tackles in the scrimmage. For him, he came out of college as a block tackler and that's something we had to break and he has to do a better job of tackling. [The] sky is the limit for him as far as ability, and he will get interceptions. It's just he just can't miss tackles."
SAFETIES COACH NICK RAPONE
(On how much different the defensive system is this season after installing it last year)
"I would say [Todd Bowles] has added quite a bit. Last year we tried to set a foundation down, but he's added quite a bit. He's going back to where he was the second year in Arizona, now. There's quite a bit more on the safeties and there's quite a bit more on the whole defense."
(On if the safety position is where most of the defensive creativity is implemented)
"Creativity is one thing – the biggest thing in this scheme is they have to be extremely cerebral because they have all the checks. Whether the running back is behind a center, behind a tackle – they have all the checks. That's where the complexity comes in – you have to be able to make the checks."
(On if S Antoine Winfield Jr. plays and acts like a rookie)
"No, he doesn't. If you walked in his shoes, there's nothing that's too big for the young man. He was raised under the bright lights. I've never met his father and mother, but they have done a fabulous job. This is a well-grounded young man that understands what the NFL is all about. His dad played 14 years, so he's just a heck of a kid. The biggest thing is he's so grounded. He takes copious notes in the meeting room, he always wants to learn, you only have to tell him once and the second time he'll correct. He's extremely coachable, so he's way more mature than most rookies would be. Believe me."
OLB JASON PIERRE-PAUL
(On the increased veteran presence on the team and where the team's leadership comes from)
"Obviously, we added a whole bunch of talent, which is great, starting with [Tom] Brady – he's probably the oldest on the team. When you look at him in practice, he's doing amazing things and I see the reason why he has six (Super Bowl titles). I can't name every guy, but one thing I know is we do [have] leadership and it doesn't necessarily come from the older guys. The young guys can lead, too. We're going to need everybody to get to the playoffs and try to win this Super Bowl, but the young guys can lead too. I feel like everybody in the locker room is a leader. You've got to be consistent – that's what my coach is always screaming about. I feel like as long as you're trying the best you can and [are] putting it on film, the tape will not lie. Everybody is a leader, like I said. [We've got to] try and correct our mistakes and that's it."
(On how good he and OLB Shaquil Barrett can be with a full season together)
"What [do] you think? I came in last year and got 8.5 [sacks]. I'm excited for these 16 games. Thank you, Lord, in the name of Jesus. Man, I'm excited. I don't think anybody knows how excited I am. I'm low key under the radar, but come this first game you'll see how excited I am."
(On how many pass-rushing tools Barrett has)
"He has a lot. With Shaq, he's opening my eyes up to other different type of moves, as well because he's a young player. I've been in the league for a while now. Like my coach always says, 'You don't know it all until you think you know it all, and you will never know it all.' At the end of the day, I think he has a lot of moves and we're learning from each other. He does things and I do [different] things. He's teaching the young cats, as well as I am. That's it – we're trying to make each other better."
KICKER RYAN SUCCOP
(On how he feels and the challenges of not playing at full strength last season)
"I'm feeling well. It's taken a lot of hard work to get back to this point, so I'm really excited about that. As far as last year – we all go through things in our careers, and in life, and that was one of those things. I'm not really talking too much about last year. I'm focused on this year and [I am] just excited about the opportunity here."
(On the opportunity to enter a competition for a job this close to the beginning of the season)
"Any time that you get an opportunity in this league, that's something that I don't take for granted. It takes a lot of work to get here, so I'm excited about the opportunity, and right now, I'm just focused on doing everything that I can to make sure that I'm as ready as I can be and to get acclimated as quickly as possible so that I can go out there and hopefully help the team."
(On how he has kicked since signing with Tampa Bay)
"Good. We kicked yesterday and that was nice to get out and work with the guys and kind of work on that operation. That was nice to be able to do that. Actually, I didn't kick today, but I think we're going to kick tomorrow, so I'm looking forward to that."
SAFETY JORDAN WHITEHEAD
(On the competition for roles at safety and how guys at that position are pushing each other)
"Every day, everybody's competing, everybody's learning, and it's been a great competition so far throughout camp. You've got a lot of position battles at the strong safety and free safety [positions]. Everybody's getting interchanged [at] either safety position, some people [are] playing nickel, so you have a lot of work being done. It's good to have that competition because right now, we're limited on time and we need that extra push and somebody behind you trying to take your spot that's lighting the fire. It's been good, though. Everybody's getting along."
(On the difference being in the defensive system for a second season)
"You get the defensive call [and] you don't have to worry about what you have to do. Now you can worry about what the offense is doing and what formation they're in. You don't have to do as much thinking when you already know your job and you know everybody else's job on the defense. You can start studying tape on the offense and you'll get clues there. They'll just give you a little extra step knowing where the block might fit, where the ball might go [or] what routes they might run. You don't have to do a lot of thinking once you know your defense. Right now, having the second year on this defense, it's clicking. I don't even think out there – I'm reacting, I know what's coming and I'm just playing fast."
(On if he finds there is a shift in mentality this year and the defense is more confident entering the season)
"For sure. The defense is confident. We know what we can do [and] we know what we're capable of. It's time now – we don't want to have that talk, 'They're [a] young secondary and this is an early start.' We're coming ready to play. We're not having [any] excuses. First game next weekend – we're going to be ready."