The following is a transcript of the conference call that Carolina Panthers linebacker Luke Kuechly held with the Tampa Bay area media on Tuesday.
(On the quick transition during a short week)
"I think it's more challenging than a normal week. In most weeks you get a couple days of recovery on Monday and Tuesday, and then Wednesday you're kind of feeling good again, ready to go. Versus this week, where you don't really have a whole lot of time and the Wednesday day where you're starting to feel better is the day you travel. It's got to be a lot more put into the days of recovery and the mental aspect of the game. You just have extra cold tub, extra treatment, whatever you have to do to get your body back. It's alright; it doesn't bother me too much."
(On if he's surprised that Tampa Bay is 0-6)
"Yeah definitely, they have a bunch of great players. Their defense is strong, you look at who they have on there, and they've got a bunch of guys who makes plays. Offensively it's the same thing, [Tampa Bay quarterback] Mike Glennon is a rookie, but I played against at school when he was at N.C. State and he's a big guy, strong-armed, and he's an intelligent guy and a good guy to have running the deal. [They've] got some good running backs and [Tampa Bay wide receiver] Vincent Jackson is an electric guy. It's one of those things where they've got players where they need them."
(On Tampa Bay running back Mike James)
"Mike James is another guy I played against at school when he was at Miami. He's one of those guys where he's speed and he's kind of squatty like [Tampa Bay running back] Doug Martin is. They kind of have the same similarities. He's a speed guy, like I said. He's strong and I think he breaks more tackles than people expect."
(On his friendly rivalry with Tampa Bay linebacker Lavonte David)
"He's a player, that's for sure. He's around the ball a lot. We watched film of a couple of games this year when teams were playing against Tampa and he's always around the ball. That's one thing – [No.] 54 is always around the ball. He's either tackling or he's close to it and I think that's something that he takes pride in. I talked to him a little bit before the games last year and I saw him at the combine, so we've been around. He's a good guy, he makes plays and, like I said, he's around the ball a lot."
(On how the defense has been improving in every game)
"I just think you have to play aggressive, you can't sit back and wait for stuff to happen, especially on defense. You have to go out there and get it and make plays. I think with us thing that's been working well for us is our front four has been playing great. That's just kind of the dynamic of a good football team on offense and on defense. If you've got a good front group of guys that makes everybody job a lot easier. We've got a bunch of guys in the two-deep in that front four that has been doing a great job for us."
(On the rookie defensive tackles Star Lotulelei and Kawaan Short)
"They're those guys that do such a good job a lot of times me and [linebacker] Thomas [Davis] can run around free and they're in there. They're good at penetrating. Last game those front four, the two inside guys and [defensive tackle] Colin Cole played great. They had a bunch of tackles, a couple TFLs [tackles for loss] and sacks. Those guys have come in and handled everything very professionally and have been quick learners and are willing to work after it. They're just great guys that are willing to work hard and win games."
(On what helped the team turn things around after an 0-2 start)
"We knew we had a team that could win some games. The first couple of games, we just had a play here, a play there that didn't go in our favor and we knew we were right on the cusp. Each game you got to play every play, every down, every snap, because you never know when that one or two plays is going to be."
(On how the defensive line play has helped their defense)
"The front four, they play big upfront and like I said when those guys play well, it kind of opens up everything else where you can keep a guy deep. You don't necessarily need to bring guys down in the box if those guys up front are playing well."
(On how quarterback Cam Newton has developed since last year)
"I just think he's very confident right now. He's been in the system, he's been on this team for three years, he knows all the guys, he knows kind of how everybody clicks and he's making plays and playing real confident right now. That's a good thing to see. When I'm sitting on the bench watching that game he steps into his throws, you don't even need to look because just the confidence he's been showing has been great."
(On what he's seen in Glennon since he has taken over)
"Like I said, he's an intelligent guy, he's got a big arm, and that's just kind of how he is. He's one of those prototypical guys that's going to sit back, a pocket guy who can make all the throws. He sits back there and he'll check, he'll know the offense to get what he wants. He looks to see what the defense is in so he can check it and get the right coverage. He's a smart guy, he's got big arm and he can make the throws."