HEAD COACH BRUCE ARIANS
(On how big of a role RB Leonard Fournette will have in the offense this week)
"He'll have a solid role in this plan. He's a very bright guy – [he] picked it up pretty quick today. Obviously, he can't do everything, but he'll have a solid role in the plan for the week."
(On if the team will utilize a player with a hot hand at the running back position if one develops)
"If one were to develop, yeah. It's going to be situational, too. Each guy is going to have a role situationally."
(On the commitment to upgrading the running back position this offseason and how important a reliable run game will be)
"I think every team does (need a quality run game). We needed one last year, but we kept falling behind by 14 points in the first 10 minutes, so your run game is out the window, especially in the two games against the Saints. That's where we start every week – where we're going to run the football, how we're going to run the football. Upgrading it from last year was really just a matter of eliminating turnovers early in the first quarter."
(On where the team needs to improve this week in order to not fall behind early against New Orleans)
"Turning the ball over. Especially [in] that second game – we gave up a long drive and then we fumble the ball away on the first possession inside the 20[-yard line]. Now you're playing from behind against a really good team. The same thing basically happened down there, so we just have to control the football better [and] get the turnovers when we're out there. We had a couple punts on the ground last year and we got them, but evidently we didn't on one instant replay."
(On the challenges Fournette poses for opposing coaching staffs and defenses)
"He's a big, strong back that can really catch. He can do everything. He can protect, he's a big third-down back and he's been a solid guy in the league. It just gives us another weapon. Until his role really, really expands, I wouldn't think you'd have to gameplan for him that much, other than just our running game."
(On what percentage of the playbook Fournette could learn by the end of the week)
"Well, the beauty of it [is] we don't have to learn the playbook anymore – we just have to learn a gameplan. It's about one third of the playbook, so if you study the gameplan this week, then you should know it by Friday."
(On what the organization liked about QB Josh Rosen to sign him to the practice squad)
"I think it was an excellent move. Josh wanted to be here. We wanted him here. I really liked him coming out [of college]. Byron [Leftwich] had him for eight or nine games as a starter with a really bad football team. He was around Miami, he learned, he's sharp, he's big – he's got everything you're looking for, so it's a great guy to groom."
(On if the team has decided on its captains for the season)
"We've voted on captains. It will be [Tom] Brady and [Mike] Evans on offense, Devin [White] and Lavonte [David] on defense and then Kevin Minter and Bradley Pinion on special teams."
(On the difference in road trips this season with the COVID-19 safety protocols established)
"Not being able to go out to dinner – that's about the only thing. There's about three hours [between] when we land and when our meetings start – that will really be the only difference. Nobody goes out – some coaches like to go for a walk [but] they're not going to go for walks. We're going to get to the hotel, be there, leave for the ballgame and come right back. It's really no different, other than those three or four hours."
(On how the special teams unit is better this season)
"We'll wait and see. We'll wait and see about offense, defense and special teams. If we're any better, we have to do it on the field on Sunday. I like our speed. I think the linebacking crew has added some speed and they show up on [special] teams with our safeties on [special teams]. We'll see what happens in the return game."
(On if there have been positive surprises he did not expect to see from the team at this point in the season)
"Not really. We only lost 10 guys, basically – 10 or 11 – and we've added three pieces to the practice squad and a running back. This is exactly what I expected. We're where I think we should be right now, getting into a really, really tough ballgame in our division."
(On putting together the practice squad and navigating the decisions that go into deciding who receives those spots)
"It's pretty much easy for us – we wanted our guys back. They were trained and ready to go in case of virus or injury. We were fortunate to get almost all of our guys back. A couple guys got picked up and we filled in nicely in those spots. It's really not hard. Jason [Licht] does a great job, [John] Spytek and the whole pro personnel group – they do a great job with those guys."
(On what rookie S Antoine Winfield Jr. showed in training camp to earn a starting spot in Week 1)
"He was around the ball every day. He was creating fumbles [and] he was getting interceptions. When we tackled, he tackled well. He showed us multiple-position flexibility. Mike [Edwards] did a heck of a job, too. Mike just missed a tackle, but that's about what happens right now."
(On the benefit of having specialists on the practice squad)
"That's what we were trying to cover – who can snap? What deep snappers, what short snappers do we have already? Do we need to have one on the practice squad [or] have a kicker on the practice squad? [Bradley] Pinion can get us out of a game as a kicker. I think we have really good flexibility with all of those specialists right now if something were to happen."
(On who would be the team's emergency long snapper)
"Ryan [Jensen] can do it. [Zach] Shackelford is on the practice squad, but he's a good snapper. Anthony Nelson is a snapper for punts, so we have enough guys."
(On what it means to face New Orleans in Week 1 and how the game can set the tone for the upcoming season)
"It's just the first game of 16. It's a good barometer – they're the best in our division right now, so [if] we go down to their place, play well and come out with a victory, it speaks volumes. If we play really well and don't [win], we'll know where we stand and where we have to get better."
(On if there has been a difference in QB Tom Brady's demeanor this week with the first game of the season coming up)
"No, not him. He's wired every day. Like you said, he brings it every single day and I think I've seen that out of most everybody we've had on our football team. I didn't see anything different today than I saw last week. It was a good, solid day's work – maybe a little bit too much running for a Tuesday on a bonus day, but that's up to me."
(On the entirety of the NFC South and how competitive he believes it will be this season)
"I think it's going to be extremely competitive. When you look at the four quarterbacks in this division, it starts with those guys and everybody has one that can beat you – and beat you in a lot of ways. I think health has a big, big factor. Who can stay healthy [and] keep their guys COVID-free? Plus, football-injury-free. Then, just keep playing week-to-week. It's going to be a knockdown, drag out."
INSIDE LINEBACKER LAVONTE DAVID
(On if this year feels different going into Week 1 compared to previous seasons)
"Oh yeah, of course it feels different. Shoot, all the talent we've got – I think this is the most talented team I've ever been on, and we've had some talented teams come across here before. But with those same things, we had all the expectations – people had all these expectations of us, and we didn't live up to them. The main thing we want to take out from this year is just to learn from that. We've got to take it one game at a time, one day at a time. This is a new team. We haven't done anything yet. We haven't put [any] work out on the field, so we just can't get caught up in the outside expectations. But as far as talent, it's there. The sky is the limit, but we control all that. Week in and week out, we've got to focus on what we have to do and that's going out there and dominating football games."
(On being named a captain by his teammates for the 2020 season)
"It's really big. It's real, real special to be voted captain seven years straight, and to be voted by different guys every year. It's just shows that I have the respect from my peers and I'm doing what I'm supposed to do, leading them the way I'm supposed to lead them and playing the way I'm supposed to play. I really thank those guys for voting me as a captain. Every time I put on that 'C' on my chest, I wear it with honor, I wear it with pride. I try to display that on and off the field because that's what those guys need me to be – for me be there to pick them up when things [aren't] going good, and also for me to go out there week in and week out and give my 100-percent best. I'm very thankful and very grateful for being voted captain. It's an honor as always."
(On ILB Devin White's growth, being named captain in his second season)
"You've seen it coming already. As soon as he walked in the building, you knew he was going to be one of those guys that people could follow and it's showing. He's one of those guys who always has a motor. He's constantly talking, doing things to try and get better and constantly doing things to try to help this team. Him being voted captain shows that. He was one of those guys – once he walked in the building, he had that aura about him that he could be able to be one of the leaders on this football team. Today, we made it official."
(On the competitiveness of the NFC South)
"As always – this is one of the best divisions in the league from the top down. I would agree with that. Every year it's going to be a battle. It always comes down to the last game in this division. Each division game, you always try to count it as two games because that's it's played like. It's like you're playing in two games. The battle – it's going to be a four-quarter football game. It's going to be tough [and] physical – that's the type of division that we have. There is talent from top down for each team. Every time each team plays each other, we already know it's going to be a battle. I believe it's one of the best divisions in the league and for me to be able to compete against the guys I'm competing with, it's crazy for me. It gives me the chance to up my talent [and] up my game when I'm going against these certain teams. It gives me a chance to get better on my game."
RUNNING BACK LEONARD FOURNETTE
(On his opportunity in Tampa Bay and on how much the roster in Tampa Bay attracted him to sign with the organization)
"I think just me coming to Tampa made perfect sense. I feel like they had all the keys that I needed and vice versa. I can help the team out, and also, they can help me. I think it's probably one of my first seasons running in a six-man box – which is a smart part on me. I made sure all that was in consideration with me coming here. The coaching staff [is full of] great guys I've been knowing. Some of my coaches know them too, so it was a perfect fit for me."
(On coming to an offense with talented receivers who can help make the offense multi-dimensional)
"I think it's great. Especially when you have a lot of guys like Mike [Evans], Chris [Godwin], Gronk (Rob Gronkowski), Tom [Brady] and the O-Line. You can spread the ball to guys like that and it's not just you. When the defense has to gameplan, [it's] against eight guys, not just one. I think that opens up a variety of things for a lot of guys on our team on the offensive side of the ball."
(On how his personality is meshing with his teammates)
"It's cool. Everyone is different, but when we come together in that locker room and on the field, we're one. The identities and personalities don't really matter when we come on the field. Everyone has one common goal, and that's to win and work hard."
(On ILB Devin White and if White tried recruiting him to Tampa Bay)
"Devin FaceTimed me, actually. He was like, 'What are you going to do?' and I was like, 'Man, there's a lot of teams right now. It's tough right now.' I felt my heart was needed in Tampa to be around a lot of guys like that and also be around Devin. When Devin was coming up at LSU, he was the only freshman working out with us. I made him workout with us at 6:30 in the morning because I always knew he was going to be special. For a guy like that to be a captain [in his second year in the league], that shows a lot. It shows what I [saw] in him and it's coming full circle now. He's a hell of a player."