(On his experience with COVID-19)
"For me personally, it's kind of nice that I get to hold it over my fiancée's head a little bit because she's actually the one who infected me. She got sick before I did and once she started displaying symptoms, we both went into quarantine. I actually initially tested negative, but at some point, I guess I contracted it from her and I later became infected. For me personally, the only thing I experienced was a loss of taste for two days. I am extremely grateful that I wasn't one of the people who got some of the more severe symptoms. But I will say the kind of scary thing is if she hadn't tested positive, I kind of would have gone on with my life as normal and potentially infected other people. That was kind of the main takeaway for me, just kind of how scary that possibility was. I think that's potentially the case for a lot of people, as well."
(On the timeframe of his COVID-19 case)
"I got sick a couple months ago. I don't know the date off of the top of my head or anything, but like I kind of said before – with the timeline of how things worked – as soon as Brooke, my fiancée, started showing symptoms, we both kind of shut it down at that point and didn't really go outside the house. For me, I got infected after that so luckily I wasn't in close contact with anyone while I was contagious."
(On how concerned he is about players potentially getting infected when they start practicing and playing again, and the possibility that someone could get a more severe case)
"Yeah, I think that possibility is definitely really scary, not just for the players but for the coaches and personnel in the building who are around the players, as well. Not everyone involved who is at the building is going to be young and healthy. There are going to be people who have some underlying risk involved, so it's going to be super important for everyone to do the best they can to try to avoid any interactions outside the building – really don't go out to eat [and] obviously don't go out to the bars or anything like that, but that goes without saying. I think a lot of it just falls on the players and coaches doing the best job they can to kind of isolate themselves outside the building. Everything that they've done at the facility is pretty incredible the way they transformed it to try and eliminate the risk and exposure we are going to have to each other while we are there. I think that's going to be the main thing for everyone is just being smart when you're away from the building."
(On the physical changes of the building)
"I've only seen pictures and videos of it, so I've probably seen as much as you guys because I haven't been able to go in the building yet. I know they have lockers set up in the indoor [facility] and kind of outdoor showers, as well, just trying to really eliminate as much exposure [that] we have to each other while we're in the building. Really the only time we are going to be in close proximity to one another is going to be while we're actually playing football. Those interactions are obviously going to be inevitable, but I think the main thing is just eliminating exposure to each other when we're not actually on the playing field."
(On if there is peace of mind in knowing that there is a possibility that he may not be able to get COVID-19 again and/or might not be able to spread it to others)
"Yeah, for sure. Like you said, there are so many unknowns with the virus. Talking with the team doctors, the research is showing maybe [in] a few months I'll have some level of immunity. I'm hopeful that's the case, but I feel like I don't really know anything about the virus. I'm just reading what is put out there by the media and trying to figure out exactly the best way I can keep myself and those around me healthy. I definitely don't feel like I've got the 'S' on my chest where I can't get infected all year or anything like that, but hopefully in a few months I'll be okay. We'll see though."
(On if testing positive for COVID-19 caused him to hesitate about working out with teammates in the offseason)
"Yeah, it was definitely something we talked about. We tried to figure out the best way to go about doing it. I would probably say, we probably weren't the only quarterbacks and receivers doing that across the league – although I think we were the only ones who had a helicopter above us filming it. So that was interesting for sure. We just try to avoid the risk and exposure we had to each other as much as possible. We weren't huddling up and we weren't hugging each other or anything like that. We were just having a little catch outside, so it was kind of calculated risk I would say that we took in that regard. We did the best we could to try and maintain social distance and really not have too [many] close interactions with one another."
(On his PSA about donating plasma and if he has donated some personally)
"So the Bucs kind of reached out to us last week about that and it's something I had absolutely no idea about. That's part of the reason why I was excited to be given the opportunity to throw that out there to let people know about it. As soon as we found out from the Bucs, we reached out to OneBlood. Right now, we are in the process of scheduling that for us, but we just thought it was a great opportunity to kind of spread that message. It's something that Brooke and I are signed up to do and we're going to do it as many times as they allow for sure."
(On his confidence level that the Buccaneers will play a full 16-game schedule in 2020)
"I would say I am cautiously optimistic about that. I'm not going to guarantee it or anything like that – or put a number on it. I feel like the NFL has put a lot of stuff in place for the players to protect us with the testing protocols and the way they've reconstructed the building. There are so many unknowns with the virus, and obviously paying attention to what's happening in baseball with the Marlins – there could be a case like that with an NFL team, and I don't know if an NFL team would be able to play a game if a third of the team tested positive the Thursday or Saturday before a game. I'm not sure if that would be possible. I think a lot of the onus is going to fall on the players and coaches to be responsible outside the building and try to eliminate exposure to as many people as possible. But I'm optimistic and hopeful that we will be able to play a full 16 games."
(On how his body feels heading into this season as compared to previous years, and how many Tom Brady-led workouts there were this offseason)
"I feel great. Not having an offseason or anything like that kind of allowed me time to really focus on my body and get myself in the best shape I possibly could. Luckily, I was able to use a [workout] shed that one of my friends had down the street during coronavirus when everything was locked down. I'm feeling really healthy [and] really strong. I'm really excited for the season. As far as how many workouts with Brady, I don't know if I can narrow it down to a certain number or anything like that. It was pretty extensive, and it was something we did a couple of times a week over at Berkley. Not having OTAs, and missing out on those reps, was definitely huge with a new quarterback but we felt like we were able to get a lot of really good work in so that we can be ready to go here at the start of training camp."
(On if there were more than 10 offseason workouts led by QB Tom Brady)
"I'm not sure – somewhere around there."
(On how his role might change in the offense with the addition of TE Rob Gronkowski)
"It will be really interesting for sure. I mean we've got a really strong tight end room top to bottom. We've got a lot of really good players in the room. Obviously, when people think of Tom Brady, he goes hand-in-hand with Gronk in the way he used him in New England. There's definitely some level of comfort for him throwing to tight ends and utilizing the middle of the field, obviously to running backs and other quick-game throws across the middle. It's definitely going to be an opportunity to catch a lot of passes this year for us in the tight end room. It's hard to say exactly what all of our roles are going to be having not practiced together, but I'm super excited with the chance to work with Tom to try and to try and learn as much as I can from Gronk too."
(On if Gronkowski will help Brate and O.J. Howard elevate their play)
"I think he definitely will. Arguably one of the top tight ends in NFL history – someone that I personally looked up to when I was in college being up there in New England when he was playing there and really dominating. It's going to be awesome for O.J. and I to kind of just run things through him and really just see the way he works and plays. He's huge. People were talking about how he's gotten smaller in the offseason. Then, I met him and he's so much bigger than I am. He's just a massive dude. Really funny – just as advertised in that regard as well. We had a ton of fun working together this spring and I'm just excited to see him actually play football against other people. We played New England on a Thursday night in 2017 and I was pumped to see Gronk play, but he was actually inactive that game. I've never gotten to see him play in person, so I'm looking forward to that."
(On owning a Gronkowski jersey)
"I was cleaning out my closet in Chicago this summer and it was in the back of my closet, so I sent him a picture. I asked him if I should donate it to Goodwill or throw it away, so I donated it to Goodwill. I figured someone would want it."
(On where he believes Brady is in learning Tampa Bay's offense)
"I can't speak for him, where he's at and what he did over the summer. But, he was really on top of it in the spring. It's all the same game – everyone runs, essentially, the same plays. You just have different verbiage for it. Just making those connections for him in his head because he was in New England for 20 years. He said it was definitely weird calling things different terminology for him, but I think he's going to be up to speed in no time."
(On how different he feels training camp will be with the new safety protocols in place)
"It's definitely going to be different. The whole process – we have to fill out a survey before we enter the trailer to even get tested every day. The tests in the trailer – I was talking to the quarterbacks yesterday because they had their first day really working with the coaches and they said it was definitely way different. Wearing a mask at all times in the building, there's people checking in on the locker room to make sure people are wearing their masks. The lunch table – that's something I loved – catching up with the guys. A group of eight guys talking during training camp is some of the best stuff to really learn your teammates. They removed six of those chairs, so now there's two chairs per table. Just the small stuff like that, it's just going to be totally different. The only time we're really all going to be together is when we're actually practicing. It is going to be weird in that regard, especially with some big additions that we've made, trying to get everyone on the same page to feel like one cohesive unit. It's going to be a challenge for every team across the board. I think it's going to take a little bit of an adjustment period, but we should be fine with it."
(On NFL players opting out of playing the 2020 season and why he believes Tampa Bay's players have chosen not to opt-out)
"There's really no difference between the summer workouts and now – there's no vaccine or anything. Everyone's pretty much dealing with the same risk calculation that they have to make for them and their families. Everyone's entitled to make their own decision – what's best for them and those closest to them. I've seen people across the league decide to opt-out and sometimes you read the comments and there will be a lot of negative stuff about their decision. That's super discouraging to see. How could you fault someone for putting their health and their family's health first? I totally respect and understand everyone making the decision either way. For me, I am officially opting in. I'm going to play. It's a little easier having already had coronavirus. Selfishly, for our team, I hope no one opts out. The more of our guys we have, the better. But, if someone does make that decision, I totally respect it and I stand with them in that decision for sure."
(On the NFL taking COVID-19 seriously and putting protocols in place to ensure player safety)
"It's awesome. I think the NFL and the NFLPA did an awesome job working together, creating the safest environment that they could for us. There's going to be risk involved because you can't social distance playing football. You're tackling, you're blocking, you're sweating and spitting on each other, whatever. There's just a lot going on in the game of football. I think outside of actually playing, the facility is probably one of the safest spots you can really be in. The way they've reconfigured everything and the protocols they put in place, guys should feel as safe as they possibly could when they're in the building."
(On if he participated in any workouts after his COVID-19 diagnosis)
"The way things worked out, I already was in quarantine before I had a positive test or anything. I think the guys continued to workout and luckily I wasn't putting anyone at risk, which is great."
(On his first interaction with Brady)
"[He's] someone that I've looked up to from my first memories of watching NFL football – Brady was in the league. [He's] someone I looked up to with the way he's taken care of himself, the way he prepared for the game, his passion for the game. The first time we actually threw with him, I was definitely starstruck a little bit. As soon as we got to start throwing and talking football, it was very natural. He's just got a great demeanor about him – the way he leads. The way he talks about the game, it's really easy to understand in that regard. The first time he texted me I had to get double confirmation from other people that it was actually Brady. He said 'Hey, this is Tom. Give me a Facetime when you can.' I had to reach out to Chris [Godwin] and Mike [Evans] and be like, 'Hey, is this Tom?' I didn't want to be calling some random dude thinking it was Tom Brady. He's just been awesome to work with. [We] still have got to pinch ourselves, the fact that we have him at quarterback and everything that goes along with it. Everyone here is just super pumped."
(On if he's noticed a certain level of detail when working out with Brady)
"Yeah, for sure. It could seem like a perfect pass, a great ball – everything seems spot on. But, if he doesn't feel it's 100 percent crisp, exactly where the ball should be placed, if you weren't efficient at the top of your route – you're going to run it again until you really perfect it. He definitely is meticulous in the way he goes about his business. He kind of has a way of circling everything back to football. Whether you're having a meal with him and talking about whatever, he'll just bring it back to football. That's kind of the way he operates, it seems."