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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Quotes: Day 1 of Rookie Mini-Camp

Head Coach Lovie Smith, quarterback Jameis Winston and offensive linemen Ali Marpet and Donovan Smith recap the first day of rookie mini-camp.


(Opening Statement)
"Always good. You know I have my cheat sheet of numbers and players' names. You just kind of go out on the field and see if anybody gets your attention. Normally someone does that you didn't expect. Good start, as much as anything. We're not game-ready or anything like that. Players have a long ways to go, but again, once you get that first day under your belt, you can start building from there. I know, of course, most of you here wanted to see Jameis – and the rest of the crew – (but) in particular, him. I thought he had a typical first day. You have to have a first day. There's some balls he would like to have back, but we saw a lot of good things that he did today. There's a lot for any rookie to learn coming in – I'm talking about the playbook, there's a lot. Because the guys next week, they'll be in with the rest of our veterans and they don't want to stop anything. Good start."

(On which players stood out)
"Well, I want to talk to them to tell them before I tell you. Again, there were a few guys that when we – most of the players we haven't actually worked with on the field, so to see what they can actually do besides college workouts and things like that (is good). But there were a couple that did catch our eye."

(On what he liked about Winston's practice)
"What you normally like about him: he can throw the football. Again, it wasn't a perfect pass every time he threw it today, but just getting used to throwing the ball to our receivers. Your first practice on this field, there's a lot that goes into that – the lead-up. We didn't have any injuries today. We were able to get through the script and we'll be able to learn quite a bit from today's practice."

(On Winston's intangibles)
"That's what makes him special. There are a lot of guys, rookies staying up in the playbook right now – they all need to do that. You know, most of the stuff that Jameis does is unscripted. No one told him to greet his teammates. It's kind of who he is a little bit. He's a positive guy. I'm not going to have to give him a pep talk every day on if he can play football or anything like that. That is part of what we like about him, but there's just so much more we like too."

(On the offensive line)
"We've improved our athletic ability in a lot of areas. Donovan Smith, we're going to put him at the left tackle position. For us to do that is saying an awful lot. You know the type of athletes he'll be blocking. He's got good size, long arms – smart player with a bright future ahead. As does Ali. I didn't know who Ali was and didn't know much about where Hobart was until he started playing football. Talking with him, he said he went to the Senior Bowl and there were a lot of guys from a lot of major schools and after the first day he went back to his room and said 'Hey, I can block these guys and I can play up to this level.' We think in time he's going to be a good football player. It's going to be fun to see some of our young lineman grow together."

(On if the Smith and Marpet's athleticism was a big part in the team drafting them)
"We wanted to add, first off, just good football players as much as anything, but yes, we would like to be a fast football team. We would like to be an athletic football team. Both of those players are that."

(On college free agent defensive ends Ryan Delaire and Jamal Young)
"Again, it's the first day. As a head football lcoach, I'm looking at a lot of different positions. After I leave you, we will dissect the video. We video everything at practice, so without going into a whole lot of detail, I just know we like some of the things they brought to the table. (It's) early on in the evaluation process, but we'll see how they did today."

(On how much the team is trying to improve Winston's mechanics)
"I think, when you go to a new place, there's footwork that you work on and different things like that. (Head Coach) Jimbo Fisher and (quarterbacks coach and co-offensive coordinator) Randy Sanders at Florida State did a good job with him. We're just going to build. They passed the baton to us and we're just going to build on what they've done. As far as our game, there's a way that we do things. We'll be trying to improve him in all areas."

(On if Winston's energy rubs off on his teammates)
"We've seen that all along. I think you can go back to elementary school and I think they'll be saying the same thing about him. That's who he is. Most of you, when I looked over here, you were smiling as you were asking him questions. He seems to bring that out in you. But eventually you need to be able to play football too and we think that's what, in the end, is going to draw people to him, his play on the field."

(On the team being able to draft players with top picks in the past two seasons and if their draft position has helped the franchise long-term)
"It's good to be drafting low for a couple of years, like we've done. Now it's time for us to do something with it. We just don't want to be down here anymore. But we think by being down here we've added some good football players. I don't think we have to wait 10 years to see that. We've added good football players that are ready to win – that are used to winning. I've said a lot of things about James Winston, but he lost one game in college, and that's saying an awful lot. So we have some players that are used to winning and it's time for us now to step up. Our offseason program, talked to the team yesterday – 100 percent participation. Once you get that and guys just keep coming, we'll make that leap."

(On wide receiver Kenny Bell)
"Liked some of the things he was able to do. We have, of course, a good receiving crew, but Kenny has great speed, he can return – kickoff returns. Whenever you can find a wide receiver that's a gunner on the punt team, that's a pretty good thing, so we're excited to see him take steps too."

(On if the team is building the offense around Winston)
"I just know that we have more pieces around him and that's what we're trying to do, just add in the areas that we feel like we need to improve. Again, we're not there yet. You look at our record, we're still 2-14, so we have a long ways to go, but we are getting better. We don't have as many holes to fill, as we start."


(On his first day of rookie minicamp)
"It's just great to be a Buc, man. Great to get back to playing football, great to be with these teammates. It's very exciting."

(On how he would critique his performance on the first day)
"You know you have to get better every day, so I'm not going to judge myself on day one, but you have to get better."

(On whether or not he was nervous)
"No. I was anxious (to play again). This is football. This is the game that we love. I'm just blessed to have this opportunity to be out here with these guys."

(On being back playing football)
"I was so elated. I was just happy to be with a team again, ready to be a Buc, have fun and play the game that I love so much."

(On whether or not he stayed up late studying the playbook)
"Well, you know that I gotta do what I gotta do when I gotta do it (laughs)."

(On greeting the other rookies as they arrived at camp on Thursday)
"It was an exciting time. I was excited and I wanted to get everyone else involved and excited. It got a couple smiles coming off the bus. That's all it takes, just to show those guys that I'm here, I'm ready, and just make sure that they're ready also. And they were. So I think, as a whole, we had a good day."

(On taking a leadership role)
"You know, I'm just going to play my role and get better every day. It's natural, and when it's time to compete and things get flying, I try to be as great a help as I can for the players around me, because they help me also. So I just do anything I can to help them."

(On whether he was having a good time at practice)
"Absolutely, man. This is a game that we love. This is our passion. I'm so excited to be a Buc; I'm so excited to be out here and start playing football again. I just get anxious. Now I'm ready to play games. I want too much now (laughter)."

(On whether he shook hands and greeted his teammates at Florida State)
"Absolutely. Before every game I shook my teammates' hands. I'm just happy. I'm just like a six-year-old kid, his first day of football, just going out there, ready to play."

(On Jacksonville first-round draft pick Dante Fowler injuring himself during his first practice)
"I can't speak on that. I'm just happy that we (Tampa Bay) had a great day. I know that he's going to bounce back. He's a great player, so I look forward to him healing. I'm going to pray for him, that he heals. But I'm just talking about our team. I'm just happy."

(On how close he is to mastering the playbook)
"You're never going to be able to master the playbook. I just believe you're going to get better every day. So that's the path I'm taking and hopefully it does me well."

(On building chemistry with some of the receivers)
"Absolutely. Those guys are playing their tails off. It's just exciting to play football. Those guys are out here for the same reason that I'm out here, and that's to play football. (To) play the game that we love is basically a dream come true to everyone out here. It's exciting. It's day one (and) we have to keep the tempo going, keep getting better, but it was exciting."

(On if he feels the playbook fits his skills)
"I look forward to learning the playbook more. Like I said, I'm so excited. I'm so ready to play and I can't wait to actually be able to get better at it."

(On coaches in college and the professional ranks)
"I'd say I was blessed with having Coach (Jimbo) Fisher and Coach Randy Sanders back at Florida State, but I believe what these coaches do for us is so good. Their wives have to be the strongest women of all time, because (coaches) spend all day up here with us. It's special to have coaches that really sacrifice their time with their family to be here with us. It means a lot. I think any coach – college level or pro level – it takes a huge sacrifice from their family, so you have to give them props."

(On whether he feels pressure to be part of turning the franchise around)
"I'm not looking to the future. I'm just taking it day by day. Hopefully day by day we get better and better. And I believe if we get better and better each day, the sky's the limit. I'm just excited."

(On being involved in the community)
"Like I said, I'm excited to be a Buc. I'm ready to get involved with the community. I've been talking to Mr. (Derrick) Brooks, just seeing things that I can do. Right now I'm just working on the football part, but I can't wait until the season starts so I can get around and play some flag football with some kids, or even go to (schools) and read to them."

(On his general reception in the community)
"I haven't really noticed it, because I haven't been able to really get out in the general public. I've just been talking to you guys. But I look forward to being around everybody."

(On whether he had to calm himself down before the first practice)
"Absolutely not. I put myself in the zone. It's always something about being overhyped. But, like I said, I have the little kid mentality. I was happy to be on the football field again, happy to be with my teammates and play football."

(On why he calls football his sanctuary)
"It's my passion. I love this game so much – that's why I work so hard at it. I believe that's why all these players come to work every day to play football: because they love it. That's why football is my sanctuary. I grew up wanting to be a pro football quarterback and I'm here today and I don't plan on stopping."

(On what he feels he specifically needs to work on to improve his game)
"Everything. I can't be really specific because I have so much to improve on. I strongly believe that you can never perfect your craft, so I plan on just getting better every day."

(On his feelings about being in the NFL)
"Like I said, I'm just excited to be a part of this franchise. I think God every day that Coach (Lovie) Smith, the Glazers and Mr. (Jason) Licht gave me a chance; this is definitely a dream come true. But it's time to play football now, so that's definitely the exciting part."

(On whether he has a chip on his shoulder because of those that doubt him)
"I carry a chip on the football field every day, because I think as a competitor you always have to have a chip on your shoulder. That's an every-day basis for me. It doesn't matter the circumstances or anything, you have to have a chip on your shoulder if you want to be great one day."

(On whether any of the students at a recent elementary-school visit had any advice for him)
"Their smiles. Their smiles are enough advice for me. That's just telling me, 'Jameis, stay out of the spotlight, keep doing positive things, because you have kids that look up to you.' Like I say all the time, I have a seven-year-old brother who is definitely my inspiration. So the kids are the main thing that I like to reach out to, because they are the ones that are growing in our society and they look up to guys like me and other guys, other 'celebrities,' quote-unquote. We have to do right by them. It's important for them to have good role models and people that they look up to."

(On if he enjoys working with Offensive Coordinator Dirk Koetter)
"I love it, because he's a football coach and I love working with football guys."


(On his first day of Rookie mini-camp)
"I had a lot of good coaching. I got a lot of reps there. It was a really good day."

(On if he considers himself a left tackle)
"I do. I do."

(On why he considers himself a left tackle)
"I have the power, the feet, the skill set and athleticism to play left tackle.  I'm very smart as well."

(On if it is necessary to have an attitude to play left tackle)
"It is. You have to have an attitude to play on the offensive line in general, but I think there is a little extra on us because you are protecting the blindside of the quarterback, so you have to have a little more attitude and confidence in that. So yeah, definitely."

(On if there is a bond between him and other draftees who have the opportunity to grow in the NFL together)
"Oh yeah, definitely. I met Ali (Marpet) at the Senior Bowl. We gelled pretty well there. It's just ironic we both got drafted here, but it is a blessing in the same token. We are roommates. Jameis (Winston), there's Jameis. He makes light of every situation and makes you comfortable and everything. As a quarterback that is his job and he is doing a hell of a job already. To be able to build on that from right now on to however many years, it's a blessing. It's going to play in our favor in the Tampa Bay Buccaneers organization, definitely."

(On tangibles Winston had that will help him in his growth in the NFL)
"I'm not Winston. I'm sorry. I'm not him. I haven't seen him much here, because obviously I have been working with the offensive line. I don't know. Honestly, I can't answer that."

(On if he has talked to any young players who have made the transition from college to the NFL)
"Yeah, I've spoken to a lot of guys.  Penn State has done a good job of putting people in the league, so I pretty much had a whole sheet or contact list to be able to ask questions. I definitely did that in the offseason to prepare myself for anything. You hear from different perspectives and stuff like that so that is definitely one thing I took advantage of."

(On some of the things the current NFL players told him to prepare for)
"Taking coaching, consistency and just knowing how to manage your time. In college you pretty much just have class, so that pretty much takes up your time. Now that you don't have class, you have all this extra time, but they tell you to take that time to take care of your body, get in the weight room and stuff like that. Do extra and also the playbook."

(On the list of NFL players to contact)
"I just had it. You know being able to contact different people. So and so's number is blah blah blah, so on and so forth. "

(On who were some of the players he contacted)
"Allen Robinson, Jordan Hill, Garry Gilliam, Johnnie Troutman, Devon Still, DaQuan Jones, little bit of a list. I definitely been all over."

(On getting acclimated from University Park to Tampa)
"I'm definitely going to get with the trainers and nutritionists and make sure they tell me what to do. There is a big difference, but that is all a part of it. I'm ready for it and I'm up for the challenge. It's not even really a challenge honestly. It's just getting used to it day in and day out. I'll definitely stay with the trainers and get first-class opinions and know how to keep my body suitable for this."

(On when it hit him that he is playing in the NFL)
"When I walked in the locker room. I got that phone call, it's still a little kind of like 'Oh, man', but when I walked in the locker room and saw my jersey, helmet and everything and it was my locker, that's when it hit me. Getting on the plane here and then seeing the locker room and everything, that's when it hit me."

(On the clock in the locker room that is counting down to the first game of the season)
"Yup, the clock. There we go. I think there is about 90 days and some change. We'll be ready though."

(On what makes him think he will be the starting left tackle)
"Just my confidence, that plays a big part. Then just my talent and skillset. The different things I can bring to the table. So yeah, definitely that."

(On the players he was drafted alongside)
"It's good. We have a first-class quarterback. We have great linemen to complement him alongside the linemen that were in the locker room already. The coaches and stuff, that's what they get paid for – plug guys in the right position and make sure we all succeed as a team. It's actually a great situation for myself and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers."


(On his first day of practice with the Buccaneers)
"It was fun. It was awesome to get some NFL coaching, and working with some NFL players for the first time was awesome. I think I learned a lot today. I have a lot of room to improve but it was definitely a good first day."

(On moving from Division III football to the NFL)
"It's definitely a big difference. Even today [with just rookies], you could see the size and speed is different. I had a little taste of that in the Senior Bowl. It's definitely going to be a challenge but I think I can adjust to it. I think the team thinks I can adjust to it and that's why they picked me to come here. I'm pretty confident that I'll be able to do that."

(On dealing with the Florida heat)
"Well today wasn't too bad, honestly, but from what I hear it's going to get real bad. I'll have all summer to adjust to it, and I know there are other people who have made the adjustment. I'll be able to adjust to the heat."

(On adjusting to playing guard)
"I think it went pretty well today. Guard is a new position for me, but I'm excited to play it. I think that's my best opportunity to make the team better, so I'm excited for that."

(On if this is the start of something with him and Donovan Smith added to the line)
"I think [Head] Coach [Lovie] Smith definitely wants to improve, obviously, so I guess it could be the start of something really special. I think Coach Smith believes that, and Coach Warhop, and all the staff here."

(On climbing up draft boards over the offseason)
"I still wasn't sure when I would be drafted; I mean, I thought I was going to be a top-100 pick. I had a great visit here, a great workout with [Offensive Line] Coach [George] Warhop, so I'm glad that it worked out. I did climb throughout the process and I think I showed teams that I could play throughout the Senior Bowl. I think I just sort of reaffirmed that during the Combine when they saw the athleticism and the actual measurable numbers."

(On getting to play in the NFL)
"It's a huge honor. The reality is that there are a lot of Division III players that would like to play on. So it's a huge opportunity. It's hard not to wake up and feel grateful, so every rep that I get I'm going to make it count."

(On breaking in along with Donovan Smith)
"I think it's pretty big. We're roommates right now so we'll be studying the playbook together. But yeah, going through it with someone else is usually pretty helpful. I know both our heads are spinning right now but I think we'll be able to get it down by the time the season starts."

(On his impressions of Jameis Winston)
"Even from today you can see he's an excellent player. He's a good guy. Hopefully this is the start of something special."

(On what makes Donovan Smith a good player)
"Physically. You can see it in his punch and his movement. There's a reason why he went to Penn State and I'm a Division III player. Definitely, physically he stands out."

(On Winston's first practice)
"I think he did an excellent job. There were a couple errors with the protections, but very minor errors. So far I'm pretty impressed at how much he's gotten in such a short time. I think last night he said he was up until 1:00 studying the playbook."

(On having ties to Florida)
"My sister goes to school at Eckerd College, my brother graduated from Eckerd College and my mom's got a place in St. Petersburg, so it's been an easy transition for me."

(On Winston's demeanor on the field)
"I think it shows. He's a team player, he's a sociable guy, he's a likeable guy, he's a good teammate. He's awesome."

(On being able to start in the NFL)
"I think I do have the physical tools, and I have the ability to get better. And I like getting better. Given Coach Warhop's resume – he's an excellent coach – I know he'll get the most out of me."

(On Winston being excited to play football again)
"I think he's excited to do something special here. I think he's excited to get going. He's definitely an excitable guy, and an awesome player to have in the huddle."

(On going up against defensive tackles instead of ends)
"We didn't do anything too physical today, but just from the eyeball test, yeah, there's a big difference. When we put the pads on, I'm sure I'll see that. But right now we're limited in what we can do."

(On facing fast defensive tackles)
"It's the quickness, it's the first step, but I think I will be able to adjust to that. But there is definitely a big difference from Division III to here."

(On practicing against defensive tackle Gerald McCoy eventually)
"He'll make me a better player, so I'm excited about that. He's a very good player."

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