HEAD COACH BRUCE ARIANS
(On what stood out to him watching the offense and defense against each other)
"There was a real good ebb and flow. Defense won some drills, offense won some drills. It's a tough defense to see right away with all the blitzes. I think our [running] backs are doing a heck of a job picking up the blitzes and blocking their guys. We've been going against each other in shorts – first day in pads, obviously. I liked the effort, I thought the enthusiasm was good and [with] the hitting, you could hear the practice."
(On what gave TE O.J. Howard the most trouble last season and what TE Rob Gronkowski can do to help him)
"I think the biggest thing for O.J. was just learning what we're trying to teach. That's a very difficult position in this scheme and he's come in and he's got a great handle on it right now. I think Rob's helped him confidence-wise – seeing how good he is and telling him how good he is. When you've got a guy like Gronkowski and [Tom] Brady telling you you're good, you're probably pretty good. I think that's helped, but he's playing really, really well right now."
(On if QB Tom Brady is answering the questions about his arm strength and if WR Scotty Miller has been showing off his speed)
"I think he (Tom Brady) answered that question the first day. I think he was dropping 60-yard dimes. Our job is to make sure he maintains that strength and not overwork it because he's an over-worker. Scotty [Miller] has a little strength, he's got some confidence, he's a second-year player right now and he's starting to show up every single day."
(On his early impressions of S Antoine Winfield Jr.)
"Very, very intelligent player. It's not too big for him. He'll be competing for a starting job quickly."
(On new players who have impressed early in camp)
"I really couldn't point out any specific one. T.J. Logan has looked really, really good running the ball and catching the ball. People don't really realize him as a running back, but he's a hell of a running back and he's not just a return man. He had a heck of a morning this morning. I think Chapelle Russell has caught my eye a couple times on special teams and his speed on defense. It's hard to pick one or two out. Anthony Nelson's having a heck of a camp. Just like Scotty [Miller], he's in year two, he understands what he's doing, he's using his length. The vets are the vets – I don't expect any more or any less from them."
(On how long it will take TE Rob Gronkowski to get in shape after taking a year off)
"He's probably in New England shape right now, but he's not in Florida shape. The heat is kicking his [butt] pretty good [laughs]. It's different, man. When you train in New England and then come down here, it's really different. We laughed about it out there today – I don't think he's ever sweat that much in his life. It takes a little time to get into the Florida shape, but as far as playing in a game, he's more than ready right now."
(On what stood out during last Friday's session between the offense and defense)
"The speed of practice. For the first day really going against each other, I think we had 11 minutes left on the clock [at the end of practice]. That's always a barometer for me – I don't add plays, we script enough plays to get our work done. The speed in which we practice, I like seeing extra time on the clock. Overall, the execution defensively and offensively, I thought, was extremely high both days. The biggest thing right now is getting used to hard counts on offense. We had way too many pre-snap penalties on offense and defense, using hard counts. Tom [Brady] has got a good hard count, Blaine [Gabbert] has a good hard count. We just have to get better at our snap counts and pre-snap penalties."
(On RB T.J. Logan and his experience in Arians' offense)
"We had high, high hopes for him in Arizona and then he broke his wrist in the Hall of Fame Game, and we lost him. He was an acquisition I was very high on getting because of his return ability, he's a good gunner on special teams, but he's a heck of a back. He can take it to the house whether it's a run or a pass. He's finding his niche pretty quickly."
(On the key to players training in the Florida heat)
"It's hydration. Muscle injuries are going to be caused mostly by dehydration. When you lose six or seven pounds in a practice – we weigh in and weigh out – we want to see that weight back before they leave the building, as much of it as possible and for sure [by] the next day. If you lose eight or nine pounds and you come back and you still lost four, you're at high risk for an injury. Those are the things that we watch, and in this kind of humidity today, you really have to be sharp. Our trainers do a great job."
(On what has stood out about G John Molchon)
"His versatility. He's played tackle, he's played guard, he's snapped the ball. He's big, he's got some strength. He's light on his feet for a big guy. Of the undrafted guys, he's one of the most promising guys I've seen so far because he's been out there every single day. I can't tell you much about the receivers because they all missed so much time. [Parnell] Motley got an interception today, so I like his quickness. But Molchon, he looks like an NFL lineman."
(On if T Tristan Wirfs struggled on the first day in pads and if he expected Wirfs to make some mistakes)
"It's not the mistakes, it's the pad level. When you're playing in shorts, you're standing straight up. You get in those first day in pads – if you're allowed, you'd cut every defensive lineman because they're straight up. Then, they're knocking the crap out of the offensive linemen because they're standing straight up. That's the thing about playing in pads – we've got to get our pad level down to play in a ballgame. [That is] something you miss in preseason games, getting your pad level down defensive line-wise, linebacker-wise, offensive line the same way and tight ends. It's something we have to work on and get better at quickly."
(On expectations for the defense in 2020 and how much slack he gave them for being put in tough positions last season)
"None. We did exactly what I wanted to be – we were number one against the run. We want to maintain that same level. I think one back had 100 yards against us and that was on one play – I think Derrick Henry got a 50-yarder coming off the goal line. I think this year, eliminating more explosive plays, creating more turnovers. We did a good job of creating turnovers [last season], but we dropped too many turnovers. Our defensive backs have been working on their hands, too. I think where we are against the run and the way we played the last six days with the secondary improvement, I would anticipate no drop off there to start the season."
(On what he's seen from QB Tom Brady since the offense and defense began competing against each other)
"Everything I expected. He's still learning some guys, he was a little bit hesitant on a throw with a young receiver today that they got their hands on. He's throwing to the right guy all the time and the 7-on-7 is what it's supposed to look like – completion after completion. In the blitz drills he's seeing how we call it, how we protect it. He's doing a real good job with his hots and sights. He's right where he needs to be – I'm not worried about him."
(On what OLB Anthony Nelson needs to show in his second season)
"The MCL [injury] really slowed him down last year. Just like Devin [White], when you get one of those things, all of a sudden you're wearing a brace for the first time – you don't have your same quickness and speed. We loved his length. He was having a heck of a camp last year. He's right where he was last year and getting better. He has a better understanding. He's done a hell of a drop in his pass drops for an outside linebacker for as tall as he is. He's just improving every single day."
OUTSIDE LINEBACKERS COACH LARRY FOOTE
(On QB Tom Brady's effect on the team and the similarities he sees between Brady and QB Ben Roethlisberger who he played with in Pittsburgh)
"Just the leadership. We're all fans of Brady. We know what he did in this league. He gets guys attention and everybody is in awe when they see him. He's the G.O.A.T. (Greatest of All Time) and everybody knows that. But then when you see the way he practices, his demeanor – shoot if the six-time Super Bowl champ is focused and locked in, the last guy on the roster, he better be locked in also."
(On the young outside linebackers behind Shaquil Barrett and Jason Pierre-Paul)
"So far we've got some big holes to fill as far as losing Carl [Nassib] through free agency, but [Anthony] Nelson is the guy. I've been putting a lot of pressure on him. We were very good last year in that room particularly, and definitely against the run, so we're going to need Nelson to fill those shoes that Carl left. I'm looking forward to it. Hopefully he can stay healthy, but I'm expecting big things for him. For that number four spot, we've got about three or four dogs in there with one bone. It sucks this year [with] no preseason games but we're going to pick things up and see who can separate from the pack."
(On how the 2020 version of QB Tom Brady compares to the college version of Tom Brady who he played with at the University of Michigan)
"He's still the same old Tom, talking trash. After every big pass he's celebrating, hooting and hollering. You see him in the hallways talking about [how] they won that day [of practice]. He's just like the rest of the coaching staff – they don't count sacks or those things. He's a competitive guy from day one when I met him as a freshman over 20 years ago and that's why he's one of the best, or the best. He looks great out there."
(On how OLB Shaquil Barrett continued to produce last season even after teams begin to pay more attention to him)
"Coach [Todd] Bowles does a great job. He understands how teams are going to want to try and block us and block those guys. He does a great job of putting schemes in there so those guys can't double us all of the time and you've got to worry about other pieces on our defense. Bowles will work his magic and put everybody in a position to make plays. We need other guys to step up, so they just can't focus on one guy. Shaq – he's a dynamic rusher. He knows how to rush [and] he understands the angles. It all ties in with our back end. If everybody is getting the quarterback to hold the ball, everybody up front should be able to get sacks."
TIGHT END O.J. Howard
(On the increased role of the tight ends in Tampa Bay's offense this season)
"We definitely are going to have opportunities to make plays. We've got a room full of talent, mismatches, guys all over the board. I think coach and Byron [Leftwich] are going to do a great job of just putting us in positions to make plays."
(On what TE Rob Gronkowski can do to help him reach the next level)
"We've already made a lot of improvements in a lot of areas as far as he's helping us out a lot in the run game with his footwork and just different things in routes that he used over the years to help him get open. Just being on the field with him, us together has been a big mismatch. It's hard to cover a lot of guys like that when we're on the field together – it's just hard to stop that. It's going to open up a lot of things for everyone and I think it should be real fun."
(On if he finds the tight end position to be complicated in Arians' system and how that's impacted his career)
"It is. It's always a tough position in a lot of offenses from the different things they ask you to do in the position. But here, like coach said, it was kind of a different level taken to it with some of the things we had to learn in the offense. Last year it took some getting used to. Year two has slowed down for everyone in our room. We're helping Gronk and trying to make it simple for him – easy ways to get used to the calls. It's just different things that they ask us to do in this offense at the tight end position that you may not have done in the past. Year two, like I said, is a lot simpler. It makes a lot more sense and now it's making sense to all of us in the room."
(On what he feels he needs to improve most heading into 2020)
"I really, honestly, just wanted to improve in the run game. Since college I've taken pride in the run game. Coming from Alabama, we ran the ball a lot. Last year it was just more about my footwork. I took a step back in that. Once I started focusing more on that, the run game footwork and all the other stuff, the effort is always going to be there. The passing game, I never was too worried about that. I just have to make some plays in that aspect of the game. But, for me, it was the footwork in the run game this offseason and [I am] working on that as we speak now."
(On how QB Tom Brady has taken command of the offense)
"When he speaks, everyone listens. That's the type of leadership ability that he has. Like I said, he does a lot of coaching. The thing about it is, he coaches up everyone at one time. He likes certain routes ran certain ways and when guys can listen and we can get the job done and stay on the same page that he's on, he can trust [us] and make that throw. [He can] make a throw that he may not see 100 percent clearly, but he should expect you to be in the position that he's always been telling us about over and over again. I think when he does that, it sticks with you. It gets in the heads of all the receivers and tight ends, and we're always on the same page. That's just a different type of leadership that I see from Tom."
OUTSIDE LINEBACKER ANTHONY NELSON
(On his development and awareness at this point compared to a year ago)
"It feels like night and day, really. I feel comfortable, I feel more at home. Still a lot to get better at, but you can see the strides, you can see the development and you can kind of see the light at the end of the tunnel. You can see the strides you've made, and you can see how you can eventually get to where you want to be and keep working at it. That's just extra motivation for me. It's awesome to be in a room with JPP (Jason Pierre-Paul) and Shaq [Barrett], too, and learn a lot from them. It's been good so far."
(On what it's been like going against QB Tom Brady and seeing him in the facility)
"It's pretty awesome, it's pretty crazy. He's the G.O.A.T. I've been watching him in Super Bowls and winning Super Bowls since I was really young. It's just amazing to see him still do it at such a high level and still be such a great player. Obviously, his leadership and just the way he operates every day – every rep is really important. You can see how much effort and attention to detail he puts into everything. It's inspiring and it's no surprise after seeing him for a couple of weeks why he's still playing at such a high level."
(On T Tristan Wirfs and how Wirfs navigated his first practice in pads on Monday)
"He's been doing well the first couple of days. Being a rookie, there's a lot thrown at you. Usually you get OTAs, usually you get preseason games – under these circumstances, we're not getting that. He's a really good kid, he's a really hard worker. You can see the raw athleticism, how physical he is, his footwork and all that stuff, and you can see where he needs to get better. At the end of the day, he's going against two really good pass-rushers in JPP (Jason Pierre-Paul) and Shaq [Barrett], so I feel like going against them constantly for three weeks – even though he won't be playing in a preseason game – I think he'll be well prepared when it comes time for [the] season."
(On the advice Pierre-Paul and Barrett have given him)
"At the end of the day as pass rushers, you've just got to be relentless. You've got to be bringing it on every down, staying aggressive and using your hands. They have different styles of pass rush, but they both use their hands extremely well. Just learning different techniques they use, different moves, different countermoves. At the end of the day they say, 'Man, it doesn't always have to be pretty. You just have to be relentless and keep working your stuff.' That's one thing I've definitely been working on and I'm excited to show it off this year."
OUTSIDE LINEBACKER JASON PIERRE-PAUL
(On how he feels physically)
"I feel good. I'm limited right now in practice, which was expected for me. Otherwise, I'm still in there getting the reps, learning the new plays, the play-calling Coach Bowles is putting in and my coaches are putting in. I feel good and on the right track."
(On his reaction to Tampa Bay signing QB Tom Brady)
"I was pretty excited. I was pretty excited that we got him because I always [asked] myself, 'If I had a quarterback like Brady, what would I do?' Now is the perfect opportunity. It's not, 'What would I do?' Now I can go out and do something. It's totally different from all the years I've been playing football, and every guy on this team should have that feeling. Like I said, he's the G.O.A.T. of football. There's a reason he has six NFL championship rings. You can see it. There's really nothing too much to talk about – it's Brady you're talking about."
(On if players on the team are still in awe of Brady)
"I think everybody has adapted that he's here. Like I said, he's making us better as a team and that's what he should be doing as a quarterback – bringing the team together – and that's what he's doing."
(On playing a full 16-game season this year and not having to catch up after missing time at the beginning of last season)
"The sky is the limit – I can only imagine. It's here and it's happening, so I'm happy and I'm excited. I'm excited I can start off right away and not play from behind, as well. I'm excited I can actually go to war with my brothers and say I was there from the beginning to the end. That's going to be exciting."
(On the expectations around Tampa Bay's defense being one of the best in the NFL)
"It's going to be the best defense with the work that we put into it. I don't get caught up too much in the hype. We have a quarterback, we have a running back, we have all this. What you put in is what you get out of [it]. I'm a true believer of that because the works that you put in is the work that you're going to put out. Hot days in Florida under the weather right now, sweating – those sweats and blood, you getting ripped up and scraped up, that's what's going to count. Like I said, every guy that we have, what we put in is what we're going to get out. I'm pretty sure we're putting in the work and you see it every day. It takes time, but we're putting in the work. With that said, we can be one of the best defenses in the NFL, but we've got to put in the work."