HEAD COACH BRUCE ARIANS
(On if the team has had discussions regarding the recent events taking place in Wisconsin and the response around the sports world)
"I talked with some of our guys. We have a good social justice program here and our committee is meeting. If they want to do something, we'll do it, as long as it's something that's going to have something to do with change and not just taking a day off."
(On what he will be looking at closely in Friday's scrimmage)
"Those young guys on special teams – I want to hear special teams for the first time. I've been watching it for a while now, but I want to hear it for the first time and then see who can make splash plays. Other than that, it's just another normal practice for most of the guys."
(On WR Jaydon Mickens and what he has done to be in the competition for a roster spot)
"Every man's injury is another man's opportunity. 'Mick' came in last year and did a nice job. We brough him back, he's running faster [and] he's in great shape, so he's in the competition for the return job and that fifth [or] sixth receiver job."
(On if having six wide receivers on the active roster is still a possibility)
"It really depends on special teams – how many linebackers, how many safeties. Who's on special teams [will determine] how many receivers we'll keep."
(On if the wide receivers are developing trust with QB Tom Brady)
"They started that way back in June and July and it's just continuing to build. Some of those young guys were trying to impress him, and rightfully so – they should. If he likes them, then they have a chance to make the team. I think there's a pretty solid trust factor right now."
(On his reaction to the events that transpired in the sporting world on Wednesday and what responsibility teams and leagues have in these situations)
"The responsibility is to take action. I don't know that protest is an action. I think each guy has a personal thing [and] I would beg them to take action. Find a cause and either support it financially or do something to change the situation, because protesting doesn't do crap in my opinion. I've been seeing that since 1968."
(On what he is looking forward to most regarding game situations at the stadium in Friday's scrimmage)
"Some of the guys haven't been in that building yet, so they haven't been in that arena. The new guys get to taste it for the first time [and] see what it's like. Obviously, the kickers, south endzone, [etc.]. Just go in and raise the energy level because we're in a different environment."
(On if he knows what Brady's workload will be for Friday's scrimmage)
"No, not really. It just depends on how it's going – it's just like preseason games. If you have a real good drive or two, that's plenty. If you are three-and-out, three-and-out, you're going to play some more."
(On how T Donovan Smith has performed in training camp)
"He's had a real nice camp. I didn't like the way he finished this practice, but overall, I'd say he had a really solid camp."
(On if the backup quarterbacks will be allowed to be tackled during Friday's scrimmage)
"Hell no. Nobody is touching a quarterback, that's for sure."
OFFENSIVE COORDINATOR BYRON LEFTWICH
(On what he has learned after spending time coaching QB Tom Brady)
"I think I kind of knew all the things, I think I knew who he was as a quarterback. It's obviously fun to see how he sees the game, to be able to be with him, spend all the time we can together and just see how he sees the game. That's interesting [and] that's the fun part of it. The way he sees the game is a beautiful thing for quarterbacks. I wish everybody could see it this way – just around the league or here – the way he sees it. It's a pleasure coaching him, it's fun coaching him. Just picking his brain, just putting him in situations, learning everything we can -- we're just trying to get as many reps as possible to just get things repped so he can just see some of the concepts and he can just see some of the players that he'll have around him and know where to put the ball and know where they're going to be. As crazy of an offseason as it's been, it's been a lot of fun for me, personally, because it's been an opportunity to slow down and coach, [to] slow down and teach from the get-go. It's exciting to have him in the room, it's exciting to have as much time as we had – especially early on when we first got here, and we were just in the classroom. That time right there is priceless when you can get everyone in the classroom and make sure we're all on the same page."
(On Brady's competitiveness and criticisms of teammates)
"Every quarterback gets critical with every player – I hope. It's really the quarterback telling the guy – there's concepts, there's plays of where you're going to be. Then, there's the quarterback [and] the little things on telling Gronk, 'Hey, I'm going to put this ball here if this happens. Mike [Evans], I'm going to do this, if this happens.' That's normal. Those are things that normally happen with every quarterback, especially with him being new and him learning Mike [Evans] and him learning Chris [Godwin] and Juice (O.J. Howard) – he knows Gronk – all the players around him. It's a lot of communication there on how he's going to see it and we're trying to get as many reps as possible so we can have those conversations."
(On if Brady and Leftwich are teaching and learning from one another)
"Oh yeah. The best way to do any play concept is the way that the quarterback sees it. It's my job as a coach to know enough football to put him in a position to play well and for us to have the communication [and] understanding of how he's going to see certain plays [and] how he's going to see certain concepts. That is normal. That's the fun part right now, really, about what we're doing – just repping plays. I wish we could do 200, 300, 400 plays a day. We missed so much time in OTAs and I think we've done a great job of making up on time that we lost. But, at the same time the more reps we can have, the more opportunities we can have for certain situations to happen – because there's always things that's on paper that you talk about, and then something happens. It adds to the concept, it adds to what our thinking needs to be on certain plays just because of an instance of something that normally happens in April, May and June that hasn't had the opportunity to happen right now. It's happening now. This is the fun part – it's always the fun part. We're learning each other to make sure we'll be the best when the time comes."
(On if Brady asks for more reps with certain players so he can get more comfortable with them)
"Oh yeah. We give him as much as he can. As much as we can – we'll give it to him. We want him to get as many reps as possible. He's just really learning the guys in the team atmosphere. It was great when we were doing walkthroughs, but it's a walkthrough. A lot of stuff is not really moving fast. To have the opportunity to really be practicing and executing plays and seeing how we execute plays, that's really what I want to see. I want to see what he does in certain situations just off of instincts. I tell you guys all the time – as a play-caller, it's all about learning your quarterback, and that's what we're doing right now."
(On Brady entering the wrong house in the offseason while trying to get his playbook from Leftwich and what he's learned about Brady away from football)
"We knew each other before he came down here, so it was already something there before he came down here. You have to ask that guy about the story, because I wasn't really there. It was just something that came about. By the time I heard the story, it was already six or eight weeks later, I believe. By the time the story came out and everything it was almost – I know it was more than a month from the time it happened. You really have to ask that guy, but it's a pleasure coaching him."
(On what he is hoping to see from Brady in Friday's scrimmage)
"We're just trying to get better every day. That's all I'm trying to get out of him. We're trying to compete, get better – we've got a good defense that we get to play against every day. We have guys that we're putting in certain situations so we can feel it out. We don't know what type of offense we're going to have yet. But, we'll have the one that fits us best [and] the one that puts us in the best position to win football games."
(On what the team meeting regarding the actions taking place around professional sports was like)
"As a coach, the first thing you do is you listen to the players. It's really about them. I support whatever they want to do. To me, it's whatever. Whatever they feel we should do as a group, we'll do. I believe in the cause. Things have to change, right? The things we're seeing on TV right now – it's scary the things we see every day and the experiences that some people have. I'm in 100 percent support of whatever the players want to do. I don't think I should have an opinion on what they should do – I'm just here to support whatever they feel as though we should do."
(On the concept of race being a tough discussion)
"It's not a tough discussion for me. I don't know why it's such a tough discussion. That's amazing that it's 2020 and it's still a tough discussion. Like you said, it shouldn't be tough. I don't know why that's so tough, but hopefully we can find a way to make that not a tough conversation, so we can get things changed. To me, personally, I don't know why that would be so tough to talk about when we're talking about grown men."
(On if Brady has absorbed the entire playbook)
"Oh yeah. He's gotten all the install, now we've just got to rep it. Everything – like I said – it won't be exactly what it was last year. It'll be different because it's based on the quarterback. We're just trying to rep enough plays and I'm trying to see what he's doing with the ball, the decisions he's making so I can figure him out and always put him in the best position to be successful. That's the fun that we're having now between me and him. We're having a lot of fun just bouncing things off each other, trying to see the limits we can go offensively, seeing what we can and can't do offensively, what we can really get better at, what we need to get better at. It's fun. It's fun working with him, having the mind that he has, seeing the game the way that he sees the game. He makes some unique plays and that's the fun. It's fun being with him, it's fun coaching him. It's especially fun because he's so willing to be coached. He just wants good information and like all good football players, that's all he wants."
(On if the learning process will carry over into the regular season)
"It's a different year, so I don't think there will be any limitations – from that standpoint – early in the year. Obviously, the more you can do something, the better that any human being will be at it. But, I don't think there will be any limitations. We'll do what we feel as though we need to do to try to win football games and that will be our mindset for the most part."
(On players who have performed well in training camp that may not be well known names)
"Well, we have a lot of guys that are just really working. I don't really want to put people on alert, but we have a lot of guys who are just really working. We have a bunch of guys working. I always tell you guys – this is a hardworking group. This is the hardest working guys I've ever been around in the game of football. These guys really come to work every day, they come ready to put in work, they come ready to get better. Like I said, as a coach, it's a joy to coach all these guys because [of] the effort that they give [and] the commitment that we have to each other. It's a true, really full commitment. It's interesting to be around a group of men who are like this. We're just going to keep working, seeing how good we can get every day and when it's time to play, we'll be ready to play."
(On how the continuity and experience among the rest of the offensive line helps rookie T Tristan Wirfs)
"All the rest of the guys are the same and we have guys up front that can help bring him along. [It is] our second year in the system, so everyone has an understanding of what we're trying to do, unlike last year when we were introducing everything. Any time you're in the first year of an offense, it always makes it tough. Now we're heading into our second year, so we have a better idea of where we need to be, what we're trying to do on certain concepts, who we're trying to get the ball to on certain concepts and what we need to do to execute those plays. It's easier for us from a standpoint of knowing what we want to do, what we've got to do, guys doing things that they heard before. We're playing a little faster than we were at this time last year."
(On Wirfs' strengths and where he needs to learn)
"The best thing I can say about Tristan [is] you don't really say his name too much. As a rookie offensive lineman, that's a beautiful thing, right? Any time you have to say his name a lot, that's probably issues. But, with Tristan, I haven't really had to say his name but once or twice so far. The kid has been having a good camp and hopefully he can continue that. He's playing well for us right now."
(On if running backs Ke'Shawn Vaughn and Raymond Calais can be ready for Week 1)
"We'll have to see. It's tough on the rookies – this is who it's tough on the most, the guys who are rookies. They haven't had OTAs, they haven't had the summer. We didn't get the opportunity to see some of these guys. I never had gotten my eyes on some of these guys until a couple weeks ago, so that's difficult for them. I understand how difficult it is for them. I'm aware of that, so I try to put them in positions to be successful. I know how tough a situation it has to be for veterans, so just imagine how tough it has to be for the young guys, the rookies that are coming in. The first time they're stepping in the building is training camp, so we know how difficult that can be for the young guys. We don't make excuses for those guys – they're still held to a certain standard that they accept. Just keep working and getting better and we'll have to see when we get closer to that time."
(On center A.Q. Shipley)
"He knows most of the stuff. Some things have changed since Arizona, but he knows most of it. He's somebody that we know, somebody that we trust at that position. That's a tough position, right? That's a tough position that you always want to have depth at, especially this year. To have a guy like A.Q. – someone we know who knows the system, someone we feel as though could come in and play if need be because we know the guy – it's always good to have guys like that who you can lean on in those dire situations. Because when you lean on those guys, you need those guys to come in and – to their best ability – play like the guy ahead of him. It's great to have a guy that understands it. He and Blaine [Gabbert] have played together with our two-group, so they can do a better job of helping our two-group get in a better position and get an understanding of what we're really trying to do."
DEFENSIVE LINEMAN KHALIL DAVIS
(On how the game is slowing down for him and how he is understanding his role as training camp goes on)
"It took a minute to slow down for me. I still have a lot of learning to do, but my coach is helping us a lot in learning the little things that come with being in the NFL and the O-Line. That's what's been helpful the most and hearing the older guys talk in the room about certain things with the O-Line. Those older guys have been really helping me a lot, along with my D-Line coach."
(On what the biggest adjustment will be in order for him to perform at the level he did in college)
"I think the biggest thing is just being more consistent. I think being behind a lot of these veteran guys, I can learn a lot and learn what helps them be consistent, find that and apply it to my game. Just learn."
(On how rookies make up for the absence of preseason games)
"We're definitely behind the eight ball, but the one thing I've tried to do this whole camp is come in and show them that I can play. At the end of the day, we're still playing the same game we were playing when we were kids. When it comes down to it [and] that ball is snapped, you just have to play and make plays. That's what I've really been trying to do – do my job within the scheme [and] make plays. That's just the biggest thing – coming in and doing what your coach wants you to do. You find a way to make plays and keep showing them every day, 'Oh, he did this. He did something new today.' Doing that, along with trying to minimize the mistakes."
(On the opportunity to play alongside fellow Nebraska Huskers DL Ndamukong Suh and understanding Suh's legacy at Nebraska)
"I've known of his legacy and everything he's done since I was an eighth grader – that's the first time I got to go to Nebraska. You see pictures of him are up there and I definitely knew a lot of what he did. It's even more awesome because when you go to Nebraska, those are the people you idolize – you want to be like him. But, to be here with him now and get to talk to him, pick his brain a little bit [and] ask him questions, it's even more fun. It's been awesome. Being with Lavonte [David] and him, for me – since I'm a lot younger than them – it's like every Nebraska kid's dream to get close with them or play with them. It's awesome."
(On how he builds on his performances in practice and carve out a role in the defense)
"Coach talks a lot about stacking days. Really, for a rookie, right now you can't really have any bad days. I've just been trying to find something to get better at each day and stack days – build a resume so they can go look back on that and see, 'He's been improving,' or 'He's been getting better at something each day.'"
RUNNING BACK LESEAN MCCOY
(On if there have been social justice conversations among players)
"We're hurt. We're hurt with everything we're seeing and that we constantly keep seeing. We want an answer, but as a group, that's something we've got to talk about. What's the best way to get our message across and be productive? We don't want to just say these things, say this [or] say that. We want to actually go out there and be productive, and as a unit, as a group of all colors and all teammates to try to make a difference. The tough part is there's no real answer for those questions yet. Hopefully together we can send a message out, whatever that may be. B.A. (Bruce Arians) talked about it today – as a group, how can we find a solution and an answer to make our statement? I'm not sure about just not practicing. What does that do? We want to have a real stand. We want to paint a picture that everybody could understand and comprehend. That's the tough part, but I think eventually as the older guys on the team come together – we've been talking about it, but it will pick up more. Hopefully we will have a great solution."
(On the emotions involved when having social justice discussions with teammates)
"It's tough. It really is because people forget – obviously it's a sport, there is fans, etc. but this is our job. We come here to do our job and it's hard to overlook the things that are happening in our country. I love my country, but there are so many things we could do better. We all – especially a lot of the African-American players – we feel that because we come from [those] environments where it's not safe. You kind of want to call the police when there's an issue and hope that it will get resolved, and not resolved in killings. You keep constantly seeing it and seeing it, and it's not OK. When we have these conversations, guys are emotional. That could be [one of us]. We are who we are, right? We could be some of [those] people that doesn't really have a voice or [are] losing their lives. It's really tough. Those are the kind of conversations, to be honest, that are real touchy. It's like you keep seeing it. It's one thing if you hear about it, but it's actually on tape. You could rewind it and rewind it and rewind it and see it. It is tough. It's tough to be a black kid and see that. Those are touchy topics."
(On athletes from around the sports world using their platforms to bring awareness to social injustice)
"We really just want to bring light to the issues. I think that a lot of times we get wrapped up in just our career – we play ball, we make good money. As a kid you probably grew up a Lakers fan, a Clippers fan or whatever it is because sports is just a thing when you're a child. But, when you really look at the overall picture, we have a platform and a voice. We want to make [it] clear that, 'Hey, this is not OK.' People love to just kick back, watch the games and enjoy themselves. For them, that's like a time of rejoice or a time to relax. So, why not make that clear at that time, 'Hey, we know people love to watch games, but right now there's a bigger issue so there won't be [any] games. I could see their message that they were trying to paint, to get across and [create] awareness. It's so wrong. There are so many great things about this country, but certain things we can't take over and over and over again. I think a lot of ball players are really just stating how they feel by using their voice, using their platform [and] by constantly – over and over – addressing it."
(On what went through his mind after watching Jacob Blake get shot by police)
"I just don't get it. I really don't. It's like, 'OK, the first time it happens it's wrong,' right? But you keep doing it over and over doing it and it's like, 'What didn't you learn from the last case?' Killing a man is wrong. The people after the fact that keep watching it, keep seeing it – it's like you see what's going on and people are talking about it, people are addressing it, they're making people more aware, and you still are killing innocent people [who are] unarmed. Stuff like that is just hard to understand. Even that video – I guess people were saying the guy was going to the car, etc. – there were so many things you could've done. Tackle the guy – you have him out-numbered, tackle him, tase him, something. But killing and shooting him seven times? Come on man, that's uncalled for. There is no reason why he should have shot him seven times. I have a lot of cop friends that I'm close with and we talk about these things. I always ask them, 'In this situation and in this scenario, what would you have done or what should've happened?' If a guy doesn't have a weapon or doesn't seem like he has a weapon, drawing your weapon should never be the answer. In that situation that recently just happened, I think they could have just tackled the guy if you thought he was going to the car to get a weapon or whatever you though – but don't shoot him seven times. That's uncalled for. That could've been your child. You've got to think about that as a cop – that could've been my son, that could've been his son, and you don't want anybody treating your child that way. That's just the hard part when you look at it because you can get angry watching it over and over again. I struggle with that."
(On what he likes about the makeup of the Buccaneers)
"As I look at this team, especially the offense, I don't really see any flaws. Obviously, we can get better and there is a day a group doesn't do well, but overall. The biggest thing that jumps out is the offensive line. [Those] guys are good. They play well together, they communicate, they're tough, they're a smart group – that's rare. It's always up and down – maybe this side is really, really smart and this side is really, really physical or vice versa. They're all together – they're solid. Then you take a Hall of Fame quarterback who gets the ball out quick, who knows where to go with the ball, can pick apart the defense, read the coverages and read the blitzes. Then the wide receivers – those guys are the real deal, and the tight ends. Then the backfield – when you've got all that going on as a running back, it makes it so much easier when you've got all that going on the outside. You get your yards in there with a light box, with no defenders really preparing for the run. RoJo (Ronald Jones II) – he's one of the most-talented running backs I've seen in a long time. It makes me remember back to when I was in my second or third year – just naturally quick, the acceleration, agility – he has a lot of those tools. He's really, really good. There are some things he can work on [and] all of us, but I think collectively as a group, we can help each other out. As an offense, I'm really excited. I prepare to have a good year this year – I really do."
WIDE RECEIVER JAYDON MICKENS
(On how different going full speed in a scrimmage will be for the younger players compared to drills in practices)
"A lot more different. At this level, you're taught that you're supposed to go full speed. But, at this level, not only going full speed but you have to be sound – football has to be sound. I have to know I'm going and I'm fighting with this guy, but I have to know once that ball is caught, if I'm on the left side of the punt coverage, I need to finish on the left side because I have a right side that's taking care of their job. So, it's doing your job along with being the high-profile athlete that they expect you to be out there. It's a lot of different variations, especially with a receiver. I might get off the ball and I might see man-to-man and they might roll to Cover 2. Now, my route variation may change. You have to take all those things into account, especially when you're playing live football."
(On his experience in the NFL being a bonus this season)
"Definitely. I always was told they want a lot of vets out there. There's going to be some young guys that are going to be able to contribute and do what they need to do, but when it comes to the vets and knowing how to play the game and knowing how important it is without a hiccup or a mistake, it's going to be vital – especially for this football team."
(On learning from WR Mike Evans, WR Chris Godwin and QB Tom Brady)
"It's amazing. I'm a different receiver from Mike Evans and Chris Godwin, but taking their coaching points on certain releases and certain variations to this offense – [they say], 'Hey, you don't have to move that quick on this because you can do this, you can stride that out and come out and the ball is going to be right there without you having to do the extras or try to stick something really hard.' Also, with Tom, he just brings a different energy to the room. When you're in that huddle with Tom or you're in that meeting and he's talking, you just want to be better. You want to do better and you want to go harder. He's just that type of guy. We know he expects perfection [and] he knows we're not going to be perfect, but if we can get anything close to perfection and stride for it, we're going to be in a great position as a football team. I've been learning a lot from all three guys."