QB Shaun King says the offense is coming together at the expected pace
As the team arrives back in Tampa, Buccaneers.com provides a look at what the team is thinking (game quotes) and feeling (injury update)
After leaving Foxboro, Massachusetts, Sunday evening with a newly-minted 31-21 win over the New England Patriots, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers landed in Tampa at approximately 1:00 a.m. The mood on the team flight was relaxed but not raucous, as if the team enjoyed the outcome but wasn't exactly overwhelmed by the significance of a preseason victory.
There were, however, some serious issues to be discussed, as there are with any game. The overriding goals for most teams entering any preseason game are twofold: develop their systems and avoid injuries. We'll let Tony Dungy and Shaun King address that first topic and others below, then provide you with an up-to-the-minute injury report at the end.
The following quotes were gathered from Dungy and King after Sunday's game. The injury report was taken from the team's training room after the staff arrived back at One Buccaneer Place early Monday morning.
On the difference between this team and the '98 team: "I think we learned that you can't relax, you can't take it easy. We've had a tough training camp and we're a very hungry team. We practice hard and I think our attitude is much different than it was in '98."
On former NFL Europe players Aaron Stecker and Yo Murphy: "Aaron had a great kick return for us and that touchdown run. He's been fantastic. You kind of worry about guys being fatigued, coming back from that long season in Europe. He's been good and he's given us a big lift.
"Yo's done a good job for us and we're glad to have him back. He's done kick return and also played receiver for us. I think the experience that those guys got over in Europe has really helped them."
On the second half compared to the first: "It was a better second half for us. I thought our second group, especially, went in there and picked the tempo up and made some plays, got some turnovers. Our offense took advantage of the field position. We just played, overall, much better in the second half."
On the development of Eric Zeier: "Eric will play a lot next week as well. We've got to get him going, and see if we can do that while still developing our first group."
On the running game: "It was better. The first half, we were still not quite sharp. It was a little bit of a new defense – New England plays a lot of three-four, and we had to adjust to that. The second half, I thought we got our blocking patterns down a little bit better. Rabih Abdullah, I thought, went in there and ran hard, ran well, and also Aaron Stecker at the end."
On the string of injuries at safety: "Damien's going to get back and we'll have four guys (at safety) and we'll be able to work with that. It is the one position that's been hit, and they're not season-ending injuries but they're ones that are going to keep guys out for awhile.
On Shevin Smith's turf toe injury: "That can be a very tough one. Shevin's been playing well, doing a great job for us, and we'll have to see how long that takes.
"Again, Damien will need some work, so it will be good to have him back next week."
On the positives from Sunday's game: "We ran the ball a little more consistently in this game. We made some plays in the passing game. We got the turnovers on defense. I thought we tackled a little bit better and hit with more intensity, so we made progress."
On the upcoming week: "The biggest thing for us now is that we have to make the cuts to 65. That will be a tough thing for us tomorrow. Then we'll really look at Kansas City. Again, we've got to try to get our first unit some work, get some continuity, and then make those last decision on those last seven or eight roster spots. So we'll play some guys in that Kansas City game to really make that last-minute call of who's on the ball club."
On headset problems in Foxboro: "We had some problems with the headsets pretty much all day long. That's something we'll try to get squared away. So it was good for us to have a dry run up here."
On holding back the offense for the regular-season opener: "It's just part of the process. I think we're getting closer. I said all along that we're going to be playing a lot better after a little bit of the season than we are right now. But we did some good things. I thought we moved the ball against them. I thought we did pretty decent on third down. When we get in the Green Zone, I still think we can do better, but after we get acclimated to the offense, I think that will show."
On what the offense did best: "I think we sustained some drives. We didn't have great field position early, but we gave our defense some rest, moving the ball and getting the field position back in our favor."
On whether the offense is where he wants it to be: "Well, I don't think we're where I want to be, but I anticipated we'd be at about this point right now. I think our running game picked up, our O-Line did a great job of opening up some holes. That was good to see. We need to get back to that point where we're running the ball consistently on first and second down, and we'll be fine."
On Mike Alstott's return: "I thought he did a nice job. He's a tough guy to bring down and he's just going to add another dimension to our offense."
On Jacquez Green's touchdown: "Quezie made a good play. I was going to him, and Dave reaches out and I said, 'Oh, my gosh.' But all things worked out for the good and it was a good feeling."
On further offensive development: "The thing about our offense right now is we still have guys who haven't shown what they can do because they're still thinking. They're still out there thinking about what they have to do and then the ball is snapped. As we keep playing, it will come through time as we get more acclimated to it and get more comfortable. Then you'll see guys really come around and start making plays."
On the play of the second-string offense: "They did a great job. They came in in a pressure situation. The score was 14-10 when they got in the game and they put up 21 points, so they did a great job."
On his own development in the offense: "We weren't as sharp today in the passing game as we would like to be, but you have to commend New England. They did some good things in their coverage and we were a little off. We weren't completely on the same page, but that happens. The positive thing for us is we were still able to get some things accomplished."
On Jacquez Green: "I think Jacquez stepped up and had a great game. He made a good catch on that post that Ty (Law) tipped, and made an even better play on the one he took the distance. I just have to get him the ball and get it to him in spots where he can make something happen."
Shevin Smith: The most worrisome of the Bucs' Sunday injuries was the turf toe suffered by Smith, the third free safety to go down for Tampa Bay this summer, following Damien Robinson (hamstring, training camp) and Dexter Jackson (ankle, at Miami, 8/10). Turf toe, another way of describing a toe sprain, which Smith incurred on the big toe of his left foot, is sometimes a confounding injury in terms of recovery time. There was no decision yet from the training room on the amount of time Smith would miss, but his injury was considered significant.
Ketric Sanford: The Bucs' rookie free agent running back stayed healthy until the final series of the game, during which he sustained a right shoulder sprain. His long-term diagnosis was also not available late Sunday night.
Donnie Abraham: On the other hand, the team already felt fine about Abraham before the plane took off. The Bucs' sublime cornerback took a Patriots helmet to the elbow early in the second quarter and came off holding his right arm in a manner that had onlookers fearing a shoulder separation. In fact, Abraham had just a contusion on the elbow and shouldn't miss any time.
Alshermond Singleton: Singleton suffered a very mild ankle sprain late in the game; it was an injury the training staff didn't seem to consider major.
DeShone Mallard: The first-year cornerback didn't get hurt in Sunday's game; in fact, he was a last-minute scratch from the trip as a whole. Mallard was held off Saturday's team plane at the last minute when he proved too sick to travel. He was suffering from flu-like symptoms.
And that was the extent of the team's post game injury report. While Smith would certainly disagree, it was a fairly pleasant game for the training staff in terms of number of injuries. Buccaneers.com will provide updates on these players and others as the week progresses.