HEAD COACH BRUCE ARIANS
(On RB Leonard Fournette and what he brings to the running back room)
"That's one position I don't think you can have enough good guys. That's the one area where nicks and bruises really add up and when you can get a player of that caliber – I've gotten great reviews from people that know him and have coached him. He'll fit right in and then we'll see what role happens and how fast it can happen. RoJo (Ronald Jones II) is our guy, Shady (RB LeSean McCoy) is ready for his role, so it's just going to be building roles as we go along and having enough quality players to finish this thing.
(On if there are concerns regarding Fournette's character)
"No. The people that I really, really trust gave him high, high marks in everything that I care about. I can't say what's going on in Jacksonville, but all I can say is what's happening in Tampa [and] he'll fit right in."
(On how the kickers performed at Raymond James Stadium on Thursday and if the team is close to making a decision)
"We're getting there. They both had a really good day. I think Ryan [Succop] missed from 56 [yards] – it was right underneath the goalpost. Matt [Gay] hit that one, but Matty missed inside. It was a good day, especially in the south end in the wind. The wind picked up as we were kicking. We kind of extended that period for them. It was a good, solid day."
(On how quickly Fournette will adjust to Tampa and the playbook before getting on the field)
"I think right away. He's a very bright player and everything I've heard from the guys coaching him – he'll pick it up really quick. We're not going to force him – we don't have to force him. We'll just let him get in his pace and if I know him, he'll be pretty fast-paced. We'll try to get him up to speed as fast as we can and see if he can have a role for next week."
(On what Fournette brings to the offense that was not present with the other running backs on the roster and how his signing impacts other running backs' roles)
"It's going to affect somebody, that's for sure. [Fournette's] skillset is very rounded. He's a three-down player, so he fits right into the rest of the group. [He] added some outstanding depth at a position that's OK."
(On when he will give Fournette Tampa Bay's playbook considering the delay in him signing due to COVID-19 safety protocols)
"Once he's signed, I don't have any problem with him having it. Like I said, he's a pretty smart player. We have off Sunday and Monday, so he can meet with the running backs coach all day. We'll catch him up pretty fast."
(On Fournette's ability in pass protection)
"He was not bad at all. He's more than willing and he's a big, strong guy."
(On the difficulty of making roster decisions and if the team could carry five running backs on the active roster entering the season)
"Anything is possible. Again, special teams roles affect everything. If there's a fifth back that's a core special teamer versus a linebacker or tight end that's not, then yeah, they're going to be on the team and active on Sundays. We'll put all that together in the next 48 hours. Cut day is always a very, very tough time."
(On being the head coach of an organization that has invested significant resources in order for the team to succeed)
"As a head coach, you can't ask for any more. You have everything that you need here. This is a great ownership group [and] from top to bottom, it's just fantastic [with] the commitment they've shown. Jason [Licht] has done a great job of identifying people and getting them in the fold. Our job now is to coach them and make sure we've got them ready."
(On if the sense of urgency around the organization increased when QB Tom Brady signed)
"I don't think there's any doubt. Tom says he's going to play four or five years – we'll see. He looks like he can. But, the sense of urgency is always there. It would've been the same whoever our quarterback was – we'd have that sense of urgency. But with Tom, it's a higher sense."
(On if the additions at the running back position are an indictment on RB Ronald Jones II's ability to be the starter)
"No, it's his job. Nothing has changed for him. We've just added a heck of a piece of insurance to see what kind of role he can cut out. RoJo – it's his job if he wins it or loses it. He's already got it, so he'd have to screw it up. I don't see that happening."
(On if signing a player of Fournette's caliber is a situation where you worry about fit after the signing)
"Yeah. When a guy has interest and you have interest and it helps your football team, you're going to do it no matter what position it is. You're always looking for better players."
(On if he has spoken to Fournette)
"I have not. A couple players did – the LSU guys, they all know him. I have not spoken to him, no. Jason [Licht] did a great job [along with] Mike Greenberg and Jackie [Davidson] getting him done."
(On if there is a reason Tampa Bay's offense would not score 30 points per game)
"I don't see any reason unless we turn the ball over. We would've scored 30 last year, but we gave the ball away so many times, gave so many drives away [and] missed so many kicks. If we play the way we're capable of playing, 30 points [is obtainable]. For me, I always call it 'production time' – it's not possession. I don't [care] about possession time. Possession time doesn't score any points. It's what you do with the ball when you have it. If you have it for 30 minutes, you should have 30 points."
(On the difficulty with making cuts due to the changes in rosters for this season)
"It's totally different. Having that many practice squad guys, a three-week Injured Reserve, 21-day disabled list – which I've been begging for for years – it's great. It's a matter of just making the right decisions, getting guys to fall in line and we should be ready to roll on Tuesday."
(On being a part of an organization that has 'caught lightning in the bottle' and has momentum in acquiring talented players)
"Like I said, it's great ownership. They give us, as a coaching staff, every single thing we need. It's now our job to get it done. It's fantastic to have people that want to win that [are] running the organization. From day one when I met with them when I took this job, they were committed to winning and I was sold that they were committed on winning."
INSIDE LINEBACKERs COACH MIKE CALDWELL
(On when things clicked for ILB Devin White)
"Toward the tail end of the year – after the injury early on in the season – you could see him get comfortable out there and you could see his natural ability start to take over. He played well for us and then this year, the same thing. He's come in, that leadership – he has it in him naturally – it just comes natural to him and he's just going out there and you see the improvement. There's always a big jump from year one to year two and I think he's right where we want him to be – in great shape and ready to go."
(On where he anticipates the most growth from White this season)
"I think, with Devin right now, it's overall. I know that's a generic answer, but we just really want him to continue to be a playmaker for us and continue to make the small improvements that we want to see from a young player. He's doing that."
(On how important the strength of the defensive line is to the development of the inside linebackers)
"I tell the guys all the time, 'Take care of the guys in front of you – make sure you take care of them – because they're going to take care of you during the games.' Those two [Ndamukong Suh and Vita Vea], they do such a good job of keeping guys free and allowing us to run. It's just a pleasure to play behind them. I know as a linebacker, any time you have good D-Linemen in front of you, it just makes your job that much more easy. Just go out there, be able to run and let your natural abilities take over."
OUTSIDE LINEBACKER SHAQUIL BARRETT
(On being part of the Buccaneers organization right now)
"It feels good to have front office guys who are making all of the right moves, putting us in position to be successful this year. It's up to us to take advantage of it. It's nice to have a pretty much amazing team on paper. We've just got to put it together so we can make it be worthwhile. It has been done before where teams have pretty much super teams and it hasn't panned out. We're working for ours and we know nothing is given. We've already been average for the past few years here, so we know we've got to grind and get it. That's what we're trying to do, and that's our mentality."
(On if the time is now for the Buccaneers to contend for a title)
"Yes, that's most definitely our goal. No matter what team you've got, every year it's our goal that it's now. I don't want to be a part of a rebuild or something that's going to be a process. The owners and the front office people – they most definitely are building the team the right way so now can be the time. We're most definitely going to seize our opportunity and try to make the most of it this year."
(On his impression of T Tristan Wirfs)
"Tristan is the real deal. He's going to be a problem out there for a lot of edge rushers and whoever is going against him. I like Tristan a lot. He's ready for sure."
(On if he is still most excited for the Saints matchup and if it can be a statement game)
"Yeah, that still is the case and it's because last year – I think we did have a chance when we went down to New Orleans and played them – but the second game, and that game, it felt like they just controlled the game and whenever we did claw back, they just went up again by another touchdown or a field goal. We feel like we were in it, but we really weren't in it. I just feel like we didn't play our best defense at all. I really just want to get back at them and go ahead and try to get this win … It would most definitely be a statement win because they're a respected team in the league by pretty much everybody and they have been a contender every year. To come out and get our first win against them would be big for us [and] a big step in the right direction."
INSIDE LINEBACKER DEVIN WHITE
(On his relationship with RB Leonard Fournette after playing together at LSU)
"He's always been a big brother to me. I actually got recruited by a lot of colleges as a running back and a linebacker – I was able to play either or. So, when I used to go on my visits [to LSU], they used to pair me up with him. We had a history of knowing each other before I actually signed and enrolled at LSU. When I got there, he still took me under his wing, even though I made the transition to go play defense. He said he always saw something in me, and I was willing to work, so he was willing to instill that mindset that he had, already [having] played at the college level. I took it and ran with it. He got me out of Breakfast Club as a freshman. I was making good grades, so they were kind of more lenient with letting me go workout in the morning instead of coming to Breakfast Club. I used to workout on the same rack with him, and whatever he did, I tried to do more. I always pushed myself against him. When it was time to do one-on-ones in practice, I made sure I'd go against him because best-on-best at all times. The only thing [was], at LSU I couldn't tackle him. That's what made the Jacksonville game last year even more special. There was no rules, there wasn't [a] coach saying, 'Hey, don't take him to the ground.' I was all the way hands on, so I kind of jawed a lot at him and he jawed back. That let you know that we were able to do that. [It was] not fussing and fighting, but we were able to talk trash and at the end of the day, shake hands and go on about our business."
(On what the signing of established, veteran players does for the morale in the locker room)
"I know one thing – it has brought us even more closer together, because all those players you just named are great locker room guys. Just before I came in here, I was in there talking to Gronk about how he is adjusting to the heat [and] how we can use it to our advantage when we go and play other teams. That just lets you know that everybody is one. The locker room [is] so tight and that's a good thing. We all have a same common goal, but I'll tell everybody – having Tom Brady on your team, it just rises everything up a whole other level because he's the greatest and you want to play to his standard. You want to set a standard and you want to hold yourself accountable because you know he's going to come in every morning and he's going to do the same thing. He's going to be just as great as he has been in New England – he's going to do the same thing here. As far as me as a defensive player, we've got a standard that we set, too. We can't look back. We can't depend on what we did last year. Throughout this camp, every time we go live or anything, we've been stout all around. I can say it hasn't been easy for Tom Brady and his crew on that side of the ball going against me and my crew. I can say we got better as a defense and they got better as an offense. Overall, we're going to be on the same team when Sunday comes and we're going to be playing together. That's the beauty of it – we make each other better and then we're going to dominate against other people. That's what it's all about – just winning games and doing it in fashion. Whoever is on the team, they're going to play a big part and they're going to help. We're thankful for everybody we've got and we're just ready to get the show rolling."
(On how much better he is now that it is his second season in the defensive system)
"Oh yeah, I'm so [much] faster because when he called a play last year, it was telling yourself, 'Oh you have to do this.' You're a rookie, so you don't want to make the mistakes. Now, he calls the play [and] I already know what I have. I'm trying to see what formation they're in so I can see how they're going to attack us [and] so I can call out the plays. Everything is more easy, I know where my help is at on the field, if I have to spill something to a safety or something, I know where they're going to be. It's more communication on the back end – I think that's the main thing we were lacking last year. We weren't all in sync with one another and that kind of caused us to play a lot of man [coverage] last year. Now we get to switch it up because we're talking, we're communicating, we know our leverage [and] we know where we're supposed to be because we made a big emphasis on it. Last year coming in, I did a lot of running around before getting drafted because you had to go through the process. I think this year, I was able to rest mentally and physically more, and be in the best shape of my life. I came in just ready to go and that's why I think I'm way ahead in year two than year one because I was flying to this team, flying to [that] team, drawing this up on the board. I'm not going to say it was stressful – because I knew I had put in the work to get drafted – but it was a lot on me just doing a lot of different things as far as rookies doing a lot of stuff. Now, I'm just laid back. I was just riding horses, going to the barn, working out, studying film, calling my coach [and] just doing little things. My body feels a whole lot better, so I'm ready to go."