HEAD COACH BRUCE ARIANS
(On what makes him confident the team will not get caught up in the outside hype)
"Just the way they work every day. Guys that usually are riding on their laurels – it shows up on the practice tape [through] mental errors, penalties, those type of things. This team hasn't done anything, so they don't really have any laurels to ride on other than what you guys write every day."
(On WR Chris Godwin taking multiple veteran days off during training camp)
"That's for me to know and nobody else to find out."
(On how different it is evaluating players without preseason games)
"Like I've said every day, it's those younger guys – it doesn't get any easier. They've got to show up in practice – some of them are starting to show up in practice [with a] consistent level of play, not just a flash in the pan couple of days [but] a consistent level of 20-something good days. It's hard when you don't have games."
(On center A.Q. Shipley)
"Q is a hell of a player – a hell of a leader. He'll give us great, veteran depth in our offensive line. [He] allows us to do some things in case of injury [and] in case of COVID. [He is] a guy I trust with the utmost."
(On what he liked from Tuesday's goal line session in practice)
"I liked the defensive line's penetration, linebackers coming downhill. I was not very pleased with the running game of the offense down there, but that's tough sledding. When they sell out, you can throw a pass if you want to – I wanted to see a little more toughness, so we only threw one pass. I liked the defensive side."
(On not overworking players while ensuring the team is getting enough snaps and work in during a condensed training camp)
"That's one of the things that we looked at last year with the sports science – is what we're doing in practice, did that help with those injuries way late and overworking them? We're going to be very careful. I listen to what the numbers say on the computers. Some guys work really hard when they're out there, other guys coast when they're out there. The numbers don't show it, so we're going to rely on those numbers."
(On if ILB Devin White needs to become the vocal leader of the defense)
"He's a natural leader. When you're a bunch of veteran guys, just do your job. You lead by example the best way you can lead and be accountable – he is that. We don't have to have a 'rah-rah' guy that's a cheerleader. All those guys can handle it themselves up front. We're very fortunate to have four or five guys like that."
(On if he has seen the young defensive backs improve after competing against QB Tom Brady)
"I think every single day they're improving. Tom obviously helps the improvement – understanding the defense, using proper technique, all those things help you improve every single day. I see steady improvement out of all those guys."
(On if he has determined how much Brady will play in Friday's scrimmage)
"That's another one of those things – we'll play it by ear."
(On WR John Hurst's health status after leaving practice early and where he stood in the competition at wide receiver)
"We'll wait and see. It's a sprained ankle [but] I don't know how severe. It looks to be a sprained ankle, so it's too early to tell. He was doing a heck of a job. He was in the mix – that's for sure – because he's got speed, he's got quickness, he's got hands, he's pretty tough. I'd hate for him if he has to miss significant time because it'll hurt his chances."
(On if he has heard of limits to the amount of crowd noise teams can play in the absence of fans this season)
"It's going to be, I think, 85 decibels, so I don't think it's going to be as loud. But it's still going to be loud and 85 decibels in the dome is a little bit louder than 85 decibels in our stadium."
(On if the team will play crowd noise during its scrimmages at Raymond James Stadium)
"Of course, yeah."
(On which younger players have shown they can be core special teams contributors)
"Nobody [and] that's disturbing. Some are good at one, some are [good] at others – until I see them strike people and go run down the field, whip a blocker and make a tackle – which is hard to do right now. We'll do some of it, but that's the part you don't know until you put the live bullets out there – which we'll do Friday. It's one thing to do it in a drill, show you have speed and can get in position, but it's another thing to really do it."
(On WR Mike Evans' performance in training camp compared to last season)
"He's in better condition. He's having a great camp. His connection with Brady right now – all the work they put in over the summer – it's really just growing every single day. I think he's in a great place physically right now, so we've got to keep him that way."
(On if the entire practice squad will travel to road games this season)
"We have not finalized those decisions. It might be certain players just in case and it could be all of them."
(On what has impressed him while watching WR Justin Watson in practice)
"He's making a lot more grimy catches – tough catches over the middle, behind him, balls he struggled with last year. Obviously his speed is up – losing the weight, his speed is up – but he hasn't lost any of the strength. He's making more contested catches."
(On his feelings toward the league not providing a uniform policy for the amount of fans teams can allow in the stadium and the advantage that may cause)
"I'm fine with it. Whatever 16,000 and 85 decibels – it's not going to be the craziness in some of the stadiums. I'm happy for those fans that can get in."
(On the kicking battle between Matt Gay and Elliott Fry and how he will decide who makes the team if the competition is close)
"The most consistent guy [will make the team]. They both have enough leg strength. Fry kicked a 56-yarder with no problems. I don't think we're going to try too many longer unless it's at the end of the half. Leg strength is no problem, so it's just the most consistent guy and if there's a disparity, it's who is the most consistent inside 35 [yards]."
SPECIAL TEAMS COORDINATOR KEITH ARMSTRONG
(On how the absence of preseason games impacts his evaluation of players on special teams)
"Obviously, it's going to slow it down, so you have to anticipate some things. I think really early on in the year you're going to have to lean on your veteran players to be able to get this done. Going in to that first game – maybe the second and third game, as well – I think you're really going to have to lean on a veteran group. So, when I talk about a core group, I'm talking about the punt unit, especially. You're going to want to have some veteran players in there because of the lack of contact, the lack of preseason games. You don't get a chance to see who can actually go play, so it does slow your evaluation down."
(On which players at inside and outside linebacker could be most helpful on special teams)
"I think the guy that jumps out is Kevin Minter. Kevin Minter is a veteran, smart guy. He plays a good role for us. He can play tackle on the punt team, [on] punt return he can match up as a tackle, kickoff coverage he's going to play a four down inside, kickoff return he'd probably be a guard. But, he's a veteran guy that has experience. The young guy that jumps out for us I think is [Cam] Gill – the kid out of Wagner. I like him. He's got some power, he's got punch. He's been really receptive, a fast learner and he's shown some speed [and] some burst. He's got the ability to escape some blocks, that type of stuff. He's the guy that really excites me out of that outside linebacker/inside linebacker crew – the young guys. As you look at it, 53 – very talented kid, Chapelle Russell. He can run, he's got instincts. We want to see how physical he is in this scrimmage. So, I actually watch the offense and defense, and when we have these mini scrimmages, I try to get my evaluations out of that because it's the one time you can see a guy heading downhill. 'Can you escape a block and make a tackle? Do you play with energy? Will you run to the ball? All that type of stuff. All these little 10-play scrimmages, I'm trying to get as many reps. I can't wait to see the twos – everybody else wants to see [Tom] Brady and I'm like, 'Yeah, yeah, yeah. Let's get to the twos and threes so we can see who can run, who can hit, who can get off a block, guys that are instinctive.' I'm getting a lot out of that from the scrimmages and I think Friday will be big for us in terms of scrimmaging in the morning."
(On CB Parnell Motley's abilities on special teams)
"He's going to be the first gunner Friday morning and we're going to put vice on him. He knows it. Hopefully he can play gunner – he's got the quickness to do it. He can run, so you love the intangibles and that type of stuff. We'll see if he can actually get that done. Then we'll turn him around and put him at the corner on punt return and see if he can hold up. Kickoff coverage wise, he'd probably either be a safety or a two. Then, he'd probably play that tackle on kickoff return and see if he can fit some of those roles."
(On what he learned about K Matt Gay last season and how close the kicking competition has been)
"I think the competition is close – I think it's real close. I think with Matt, the thing I learned is he's got to learn to be consistent. That's what we're looking for and that's hard to do. That's what wins and he's got to learn to be consistent. When I come away from last year, you can't make the 60-yarder and miss the 45. You've got to learn to be consistent – they all count. They count for three [points], but it's three. It's three that we need and we want. Coming away, that's what I think I learned from that. The competition is really tight. Both have good legs and [Elliott] Fry is giving him a run for his money. They're competing back and forth and it's a good competition."
(On who has stood out in the kick and punt return roles)
"We've got [Jaydon] Mickens here, [Justin] Watson's been a good backup, [who has] filled in for us. [Cyril] Grayson is a talented kid as a receiver – he can do it. Sean Murphy-Bunting can do it – he did it in college [and] did a nice job of it. [Antoine] Winfield actually had a touchdown in college as a returner. We've got some options with the returners. Right now, obviously, good competition. I like Mickens because he has some gameday experience. I think again, going into this season, the more vets on the field the better. But, I like what I'm seeing with Mickens right now."
TIGHT END CAMERON BRATE
(On the addition of TE Rob Gronkowski in the tight end room and for the entire offense)
"I think the first thing he brought was his great jokes and his personality. To go along with that, just his passion for the game – it's infectious. Even just doing drills, he's laughing. He just makes practice more fun. Football-wise, Rob is one of the best tight ends of all-time – someone I really looked up to when I was in college up in the northeast there. Just his wealth of experience and being able to watch the way he plays and picking up on some of the little things that he does that set him apart has been super useful. It's something that O.J. [Howard] and I have talked about almost every day. Little things that we notice that he did that were like, 'Oh, never really seen someone do that.' Small stuff like that is going to definitely boost our games and [there is] definitely a little bit of a friendly competition between all of us – fighting for targets in practice and working together in the run-game as well. It's just been awesome having him in the room."
(On QB Tom Brady's personality in practice)
"I would say the number one thing I noticed with him initially was just his positivity. If we ran a bad route or it was incomplete, [he said], 'Hey, don't worry about it. We'll get the next one.' Then, really encouraging when you had a good catch or you ran a good route – stuff like that. But there's been times, too, where he's kind of gotten on guys as well if it's not up to the standard we're hoping for. I think he does a good job balancing the two. I've seen him, obviously, on gameday really go after guys. I think that's just his competitive nature – I think that's kind of what sets him apart. But, in practice we've kind of seen a little bit of both."
(On if there is a sense of urgency and accountability with Brady on the team)
"I think that's pretty spot on. He has raised the expectations. Having a guy like Tom in here leading the team with the success he's had in his career definitely raises the expectations that we have for ourselves. I wouldn't say it's about letting Tom down – we look at the expectations as a positive. We're going to have more eyes on us – a chance to show the country who we are as players and as a team. I think it's super exciting for us to have those expectations and it's going to be a great opportunity."
LINEBACKER LAVONTE DAVID
(On the challenges that come with facing two tight ends on the field at the same time)
"It's difficult because you can go either way – you can go outside or you could go inside. You have to play everything true because each guy on the field is a threat. When you have that one-on-one matchup, you have to be able to play your best at it. Each guy out there is talented, and we've been seeing it firsthand. The competition level is great, and it helps us get better for sure on the defensive side."
(On if he allows himself to think about the potential of making his first postseason appearance when evaluating the talent on Tampa Bay's roster this season)
"With the stuff that we've done defensively last year and then what we've brought in offensively this year, you would say you would want to [think about the postseason], but I can't do that just because all that stuff – that's just last year and we haven't even played a game yet with the new guys. All I try to do is focus on what I have to focus on right now and that's for us to get better day by day. That's something that we definitely emphasize and that's going to be an all-guy effort week in and week out. There's been a lot of teams in the past that we had a great roster that I played on and it didn't work out the way we wanted. We have to be able to put everything together and then, at the end of the season, we'll see if we're in the postseason or not. Like I said, it looks good right now, but we have to play a football game first."
(On ILB Devin White's performance in camp compared to his rookie training camp last season)
"He's growing day by day. He's taking on a role of being more of a leader. He's talking more, he's being more encouraging, he's been more interactive with guys from the front end to the back end and just learning as much as he can about each position and understanding the defense more and asking a lot of questions. He's just trying to be more involved, so he can be able to play fast the way he knows how to play [and] make the plays he knows he can make. Last year [everyone] saw the plays he made, so he's trying to make even more. He has a goal that he's trying to reach and by reaching that goal he's trying to make himself better by helping his teammates around him and making his teammates better. Once we're all better, this defense is better and the sky is the limit for everybody."
(On how he's feeling going into the season and what he did in the offseason to prepare for the year)
"I'm feeling great. This offseason – to prepare – has been really difficult because of the COVID thing. I didn't know what the situation was like at the gym that I workout [at]. But, I ended up finding a place I could workout at for the time being, and for the summer, I went to where I usually workout at in Arizona. The gym was open there, so I was able to get in as much as I could throughout that time. [I] just tried to change the way I eat a little bit more because at the beginning of COVID, there wasn't really enough time to workout because things were strictly shut down, so a lot of stuff I had to do on my own. I was just finding places to go on my own and workout that way with any structure or anything. Once everything started getting structured, I was able to adjust and get myself where I needed to be."
WIDE RECEIVER JUSTIN WATSON
(On his offseason workouts and nutrition)
"Talking with Anthony Piroli, our strength coach, towards the end of last season he kind of grabbed a hold of me and showed me some metrics on the strongest receivers in the NFL and the fastest receivers. He thought if I lost a couple pounds that it could really increase my velocity based on the science behind it all. Starting then, I tried to eat really healthy, and that's one thing quarantine helped me to do. Restaurants were closed, I wasn't hanging out at friends' houses or at a party or anything. I was just eating really clean and sticking to my diet. [I] came in right at the weight he wanted and I'm really happy with the results so far."
(On if he's noticed differences in his ability on the field following his offseason program)
"I just feel like not only am I faster, but I can stay fast throughout the practice. Along with being a few pounds lighter, just getting in and out of those cuts – it's less weight going into the cut and that means it's less weight that I have to push back out of it and slow myself down. Part of it was losing the weight and another part of it was working with Roger Kingdom on running form, being fluid and little more upright with my hip position – things that only a guy that has two gold medals can see. He's done a really good job of coaching me the last two years on how to run and that's been a huge difference as well."
(On if he feels he's built a strong relationship with QB Tom Brady)
"It's really fun playing receiver when he's working the offense and throwing balls. I think one of the big things that's helped me is he's really detailed. As a receiver, he makes it really easy because when we're watching film, he tells us exactly what he wants. In the meeting room, being able to hear that and see the look and him show you – for us, I know exactly what he wants on every route, so it's just a matter of learning that and earning his trust. It seems like over the last couple days we've been seeing coverages and routes the same way and I'm liking how that's going so far."
(On being able to receive detailed instruction from Brady in practice)
"He was telling me something I needed to hear yesterday – he was saying I was too stiff with my routes, too stiff with my upper body and to just be more fluid. He was right – it's something that's probably better seen from the outside than me feeling myself. It's great. Like I said, he's a guy that's won a lot of football, has helped develop a lot of receivers and I fully trust him. Anything he says, I know it's going to work, and I'm trying to implement it and get better at it. That was great to start the day yesterday and him giving me something to work on for the rest of practice. As a competitor and somebody who loves to improve, that's exactly what you want."