Tampa Bay Buccaneers



(On the status of the team's injured players)

"The only guys that wouldn't have practiced today were Cyril Grayson, Ronald Jones and Anthony Nelson. The guys in the 21-day [practice window] – it was a walk-through anyway, so we won't know much about any of those guys anyway. I think Cyril and 'RoJo' are doubtful. Anthony Nelson – I've got my fingers crossed because he's been playing really, really [well]."

(On how much rain and wind would affect the Buccaneers passing game on Sunday)

"It shouldn't affect it at all. It depends on what kind of wind it is. Is it directed [forward], is it across the field, how bad are the gusts? Those things do affect it. But that's one thing about Tom [Brady] – he's played in a bunch of bad weather and a lot colder. At least it'll be in the 70s."

(On the status of OLB Anthony Nelson)

"He's got an ankle, but we'll see how it is. We'll see how it is this week with rest."

(On how crucial it is to start the game fast and to take control early on)

"I mean, that would be great. The fast starts are always a luxury, but I'd much rather finish strong. Are they concerning? Not really. But yeah, it's a great bonus when you do, especially when you get on that script and you go down the field, which we've done a bunch this year, going down and score. We just haven't done it recently."

(On what the players who are returning to practice from Injured Reserve were able to do Wednesday)

"Well, it was just a walk-through, so we really don't know anything about any of them yet. We'll know more tomorrow."

(On how different the Eagles are as a team from what they were when the Buccaneers beat them in Week 6)

"Oh yeah, totally different – playing with a ton of confidence, won a bunch of ballgames since we played them. Once you get in the playoffs, anything can happen, so they're going to be fired up. They've got a ton of weapons and they look pretty healthy. So, yeah, it's a totally different football team than we played back there in October."

(On if he prefers to play an opponent his team has already faced that season)

"No, I'm just happy we're playing. I'll play anybody this time of year."

(On if it's the Buccaneers offensive line giving Tom Brady time to throw that gives him the most confidence)

"Oh, I don't think there's any doubt. You've got to have a running game, too. It can't be one-dimensional. We've got to have a running game to go with it. And defensively, getting healthy and playing a little bit better."

(On how much a difference LB Lavonte David would make in the run defense if he can play Sunday)

"Oh, it's a huge addition if we can get him back out there. Just being an All-Pro player but also his leadership ability and everything that he brings would be a huge blessing if he can play."

(On if OLB Jason Pierre-Paul has gotten heathier after sitting out the last couple of games)

"He's healthier. He's not totally healthy but he's healthier than he would have been playing. That was the plan all along, is to get him as healthy as we possibly could for the playoffs."

(On if CB Richard Sherman will have a formal role as a coach after going on Injured Reserve)

"He's not a formal [coach], he's still a player. But he's been a great addition. I told him the other day that I'm so happy we signed him because he's been an unbelievable addition to our football team."

(On what he likes about Eagles QB Jalen Hurts)

"Yeah, a great leader. Great leader – that's the one thing you heard everywhere he's been since high school. He's a fantastic leader and an unbelievable competitor, and that's what you want as your quarterback because people follow him. When you're an unbelievable competitor – and he's a workaholic, too, he's a gym-rat type of guy. There's so many good things about him, and he's throwing the ball, especially downfield, really well right now."

(On how steady T Tristan Wirfs has been on the right side of the line)

"Oh yeah, tremendous. I mean, he's graded extremely high every single week. [He's] still working on different technique things, because he can get better. But yeah, he's been extremely solid, that's for sure."

(On if there is a different feel with the team now that the playoffs have begun)

"Oh, there's no doubt. As soon as everybody walked into the building today – 2021 is over. This is a whole new season, and nothing matters except winning this week, and everybody is in tune to that. You can feel it in the building."

(On the Eagles running backs)

"Oh man, they've got a hell of a stable of running backs and Miles Sanders is one of the best there is. He's proven it over the years. But those young guys, [Kenneth] Gainwell and Boston [Scott], all those guys, they can tote the rock and they can catch it. That's what makes them very, very special. But yeah, they've got weapons everywhere. This might be the best group of young wide receivers and tight ends in the game right now."


(On what he learned about postseason football last year and how it can help him this year)

"That it's the exact same. I guess you feel it a little bit because you either win or go home. Guys are playing a little bit harder, but it's the same guys. It's an NFL game at the end of the day."

(On helping players like WR Breshad Perriman, WR Tyler Johnson and WR Scotty Miller be the next man up)

"They're all proven players. BP was with us, and he knows most of the guys on the team already, so that was an easy transition for him. I felt like he never left actually. I wish he was here last year to be a part of that, but hopefully this year, we can get it. It's been the same. We've just been working hard and whoever is in, is in and they have to make plays."

(On what makes Eagles CB Darius Slay the player that he is)

"He's a pretty complete corner – great size, really good speed. [I] played against him at Mississippi State and he wasn't even the best corner on that team, it was Jonathan Banks – my former teammate. He won the Thorpe Award. But he's always been a really good player. [He's] definitely going to be a challenge."

(On how he expects the Eagles defense to defend him)

"Oh, no matter who's in our lineup, I always have the most coverage for some reason, even though we have All-Pro guys and Hall of Fame guys out there. Somehow the attention goes towards me and that's fine. I like the gameplan this week. I'm in a lot of different spots and hopefully, I can make a huge impact."


(On slowing down the the Eagles top-ranked rush offense)

"The keys for up front – like the interior defensive line – are we've got to make sure we stay in our gaps and change the line of scrimmage. With a dynamic offense like they've been having – No. 1 in almost all rushing categories – and to have a quarterback like that … same as we played them in the beginning of the year, [Jalen Hurts] is dynamic, he is great and he does open it up for everybody. You've got to be able to stop the run and the pass."

(On the key to getting back to being the top run defense in the NFL)

"The way to get back to it is just to go ahead and follow our keys – stay with our fundamentals and pursue and swarm to the ball. I think that's the only thing we can do better is to swarm to the ball and attack more. Everything will go into [place]."

(On what he contributes to his growth as a pass rusher this season)

"Trying to be consistent in the craft and keeping it going. And then I'm working with some great pass rushers outside of me, so when someone focuses on them it gives me a chance to work on my one-on-one rush and try to win. I try to capitalize on that, so I've got to thank the guys outside of me and next to me."

(On what it would mean to finish his career with the Buccaneers)

"It would mean everything to be honest with you. I love it here. This is home for me. Even listening and talking to guys who come in from different teams or left to different teams – I really wouldn't know what to do outside of this place. I know the community here, the community knows me. I know the building, I know the staff. It's nothing I really even think about."


(On the impact that he was able to have on the team this season)

"This year was definitely a successful year. Successful season for the team and for the organization getting 13 wins for the first time in this organization's history. [As for]  myself, it was just a successful season with making plays when my number was called, getting blocks down [and] helping out the running backs to make some yards. Overall, I would say it was a pretty good season from team-wise to my personal stance of my play. That doesn't matter now [because] the regular season is done now, and we have to carry that into the playoffs now. If we want to win and not go home, you have to amp it up a notch. You have to make sure that you're on top of your game at all times because there's a couple of times during the season where you're not really on top of your game. A majority of the time, you're on top of your game in the regular season, but now, it's playoff time and you have to make sure you're amped, you have the energy levels high and that you're ready to go every single play because every play is huge in the playoffs."

(On what he's seen from the Eagles defense)

"They're a team that has a great front four. They like to get to the quarterback. They play hard as a unit of the front four. I would say that they're smart football players in the secondary, no doubt about that. They play the game smart. They know how to work together as a unit on zone defense – that's huge. They kind of play it safe. I would say [safer] out there so you're not throwing deep balls and having a 50-yard play. You have to go out there and you have to beat the team. You have to beat the defense. You have to actually put the work in, make the little plays, make a guy miss for an extra five yards and keep the chains rolling like that. They make you earn it, and you have to play smart football versus them to move the ball."

(On what it means to him that QB Tom Brady called him the greatest tight end of all time)

"It makes me want to keep working. He said it before, but you have to keep working. That just makes me stay motivated because in order for me to be put in that category or even mentioned in that category, it takes a lot of work. It takes work every single week, every single day – mentally and physically. On top of it, you have to keep improving and finding ways to improve. In order to keep being mentioned in that category, especially from a player like Tom. I just have to find ways to keep improving every single week and just keep amping up my game every week in order to help out this team."


(On the confidence and reliability of T Tristan Wirfs)

"I think the proof is in the pudding with him. He is confident. He plays a very technical style of football. He is a freak – that's just what he is. He came in last year as a rookie, and I remember doing an interview where everybody was like, 'Tristan, how is he going to do?' 'You know, [13th] overall pick, but at the end of the day he is going to be a rookie. We'll see what happens.' Obviously, he put a lot of those questions to bed early and has continued last year and all the way through this year, playing at a very high level and playing with that confidence. It definitely shows."

(On the regular season meeting vs. Philadelphia and what they can apply from it to the matchup with the Eagles this Sunday)

"I think the first game we kind of jumped out on them early and then we kind of relaxed maybe a bit on offense, and kind of took the pedal off the floor. Looking at them now, they're playing a really confident style of football, really on both sides of the ball. Their defense throughout the year has been playing really hard. Their front seven is very talented and their interior D-linemen are very stout, good players. Obviously with Fletcher [Cox] – a perennial All-Pro, Pro Bowl type of player leading that defense. They're a hard-playing team, they play physical and they play fast, so that's obviously always a challenge for any offense."

(On the confidence level the team has in its ability to maintain a balanced offense)

"I think 'Lenny' (Leonard Fournette) has been in the training room working his butt off and getting ready to get back, get healthy and come help us win some more playoff games. Obviously last year going into the playoffs we really established the run, and we played a pretty balanced style of football. I think getting back to the run game and doing what we're doing in the passing game is going to complement itself very well."