Below is the transcript of Head Coach Lovie Smith’s thoughts on Sunday one day after a 27-14 preseason win at Buffalo. (Opening statement) “Most of you got the guys that we released a little while ago. It’s always tough when you’ve been with a group of men, most of them through the offseason and, of course, through training camp, but eventually the roster has to get down to 53, with 10 practice squad guys, so that’s just part of the business. There are a lot of good things that we did in yesterday’s game. We talked about making progress which we’ve made each time we’ve gone out on the football field, so we’ve been happy to see that. Injuries are mounting up a little bit like they normally do this time of the year, which makes you go in a little bit different direction in some positions than what you would really like, but every time we put the guys out there tells us more about them. As I’ve said before, in the end there aren’t a whole lot of tough decisions. Guys kind of tell you who should stay and who should go. This last preseason game, of course, is important. As I talked yesterday, we weren’t truly pleased with how some of our backup players played. Been another opportunity for some of them to show us exactly who they are. I’ll take your questions.” (On any injury updates for safety Bradley McDougald and fullback Jorvorskie Lane)“McDougald has a knee injury. Besides that, we’re still evaluating him. Sore today. Can’t tell you a lot more on Jorvorskie.” (On if wide receiver Solomon Patton is in good shape with today’s roster moves)“In a better position, but still, we’ve just decided on the 75 right now, or are deciding on the 75 right now. There are still more evaluation to be made through practices this week, and of course, through the game, but Solomon didn’t hurt himself or anything like that. Every time we’ve given him an opportunity, we feel like he’s stepped up to the plate.” (On if cornerback Johnthan Banks has the right to think he is a starter)“Well, all of them have the right, but we still go on what has happened and his play has been good, though. I’m not saying he’s not going to be, or he won’t be [a starter]. His play has been good. Like everything about him – his size, how he competes, his toughness. He didn’t play as well, yesterday, as he will, but yeah, I can see why he would think that, and when we brought Mike Jenkins in, it’s not like we just handed the position to Mike. We feel like Mike is getting close to being ready to come back, but we’ll see how that plays out.” (On what he’s seen from long snapper Andrew DePaola in the decision to release Jeremy Cain)“I think it’s hard to just say one thing in there. We’ve evaluated both players throughout, we’ve given them the same amount of reps. Andrew maybe is a little bit better in coverage, but you can’t really – both guys did a good job. Jeremy Cain played in the league a long time as a snapper. He’s a good football player. We just feel like, where we are right now, this gives us our best option.” (On how linebacker Danny Lansanah played versus Buffalo)“Okay. Our backups, the guys that have been backup players for us, linebacker-wise, did okay. They can play better, simple as that. They’re part of the group that we think need to make improvements this week for us to feel a lot better about it.” (On how comfortable he feels with the offense, assuming the starters don’t get much playing time on Thursday versus Washington)“They won’t get a lot of playing time this week. We’re feeling better about them, and I’d like to give you a more concrete answer, but I think that’s about all you can do as a new staff. You’re feeling better. The steps along the way, they’re passing the tests. We made progress as an offense, did some good things, but there are a lot of things we still need to clean up so this week will be important for the guys to correct. But our guys have gone out and made the corrections and worked on things that we thought we needed to from the past performance.” (On if he will be tempted to play cornerback Alterraun Verner versus Washington)“Tempted? Yes. Very tempted. You need me to keep going on those type of adjectives to describe? No, seriously, once you get to this point, this game is important but as much as anything, it’s important for some of the guys we don’t know as much about. I understand with his workload, and again, we just want him to take steps, as much as anything. And then, what are we really going to see from it? I think we know he’s a good football player, is going to be a big part of what we do this year.” (On how Verner played on Saturday)“He looked pretty good for his first preseason game. That’s how we looked at it. Again, he’s a good football player, and now it’s just a matter of him getting up to a certain standard – his standard, a standard we have and of course he has for how he’ll be playing this year. You don’t get that in one preseason game, but he’ll be ready to go.” (On if he feels better about the depth on the defensive line)“Feeling better, but still – and when I say feeling better, you just kind of look at some of the guys. Michael Johnson, of course, we know Michael, and Adrian Clayborn, what their roles would be for us. Will Gholston, we wanted to look at him a little bit more. Some other guys – Scott Solomon, of course Larry English, Steven Means, those are players we need to take steps and we’re seeing baby steps of improvement, but we’ll be constantly working at defensive line trying to get it right. Of course Akeem [Spence], Akeem has been pretty solid. Feel like we really know what his role will be for us. It’s those other guys we really need to find out a little bit more about.” (On defensive linemen Da’Quan Bowers and William Gholston)“Bowers, he’s been out a while, you kind of forget a little bit, but when he was out there, Da’Quan did some good things. William Gholston also did some good things. I just felt like the direction he was headed, good size for a six-technique, a guy that will be playing over the tight end the majority of the time, none of that has changed. We just needed to get those guys out. [on the field] They did enough before they went down with injuries for us to really like what we saw.” (On the offense making turnovers)“We just don’t put up with them. It’s as simple as that. And Josh [McCown] will tell you, you can always protect [better]. If the ball comes out, to me, it’s a simple answer. You’ve got to protect it better. There are others that can protect him better, to keep them off of him and that’s a part of it. [Turnovers] will happen, but Josh won’t be a guy that will have a lot of turnovers, I just really feel that way. No one talks about it more than we do and to a man, if you go to them, they will tell you about the turnover ratio and how it affects how they’re part of that. If we have one on the offensive side, that’s one too many. Our goal each game is to have zero turnovers and three-plus takeaways. That didn’t happen, but we won the turnover ratio for the first time yesterday, so we had to look at some of the positives as we take those steps to trying to get to that.” (On how the guards graded out)“I hate to take this approach, but I will. Hate to, but I will: I haven’t talked to the guys yet. Tomorrow, I’ll tell you how, but as a group, the offense got better. Individually, we need to make strides still.” (On the defensive line rushing the passer as a unit, including yesterday’s defensive touchdown)“Really, our entire defense as a whole – we talk about loafs and running to the ball. It’s just not to get the guys tired. We want as many guys as possible at the point of attack. Of course it starts up front: defensive line, they are the closest to the ball, initially. So we harp on – with the type of athletes we have on the field – to just how we insist on them playing ball. For opportunities to come up like yesterday, you’re right. Adrian Clayborn starts the tackle. Michael Johnson comes back in. Michael could have been satisfied with it, but what did he do? It wasn’t a turnover, it was a takeaway. Michael yanked the ball out. From there, the ball is on the ground. You see us in practice, and you go back to last week, one of my favorite plays last week. You guys [the media] were writing notes, had your head down most of the time, and you saw really, Lavonte David pick up a ball, a dead ball that was just an incomplete pass. You guys say “What play is Lovie talking about right now?” – an incomplete pass, him picking it up, that’s what we do in practice always. We want the guys, when the ball is on the ground, pick it up, score. That is exactly what Clinton McDonald did: picked it up right away. Now, every exchange of the ball, can’t block below the waist. Guys did what they’re supposed to do, touchdown, changed the outcome of the game. That’s what we’re about. We want that to be in our DNA and we want the players to think that always.” (On the nickel position)“Good question. Ideally, you want, of course, a backup at every position. You cross train guys though, once you get down to it. Most of the time you don’t keep two nickels. That’s hard to do. But if there’s a nickelback that can do some other things, if he’s a great special teams player, a nickelback that can play some corner, different things like that, you may be able to keep more. In an ideal world, you don’t want just one player at any position, you need a backup.” (On safety Dashon Goldson’s interception)“He was pretty excited. You should have seen the smile on his face. As a defensive back, they want to know, can you hit? Really, last year, most of the time, as you were talking about, really as you look at it, if we were talking about [Goldson], we were talking about his hits, as much as anything. You want to be known as a defensive back, how many picks do you have? Dashon, that’s what he wants to be known for, is that. And that was a great play: eyes right on the quarterback. From there though, can’t let a tight end get you down, but we will work on that, that’s the next step.” (On running back Doug Martin’s pass-catching improvements)“Doug, a good game by him, as you mentioned, running the football, hard runs, couple of good cuts in there. As we’ve talked about in the past, the reason why we brought in Charles [Sims], we felt like we needed some help with our running backs catching the ball out of the backfield, being able to split them out in receiver positions and all that. Doug has caught the ball better in camp throughout. He’s worked on it hard, so it’s good to see him almost finish that play. Again, very pleased with him, just his overall game, couldn’t be more pleased with how he’s played.” (On if yesterday’s first-half performance was a blueprint for what the team is hoping to do)“Yes it is, and each week we talk about it. You talk about ‘Buc Ball,’ to me, that’s our version of Buc Ball right there. You like when either the defense scores or they put the offense in position and then of course converting from there. That is the way we want to play and then just playing good ball from there. We had a lot of opportunities yesterday to hopefully be in a situation we will be in during the course of the year, when you’re ahead at the half. What do you do when you come in to the locker room and come back out? We didn’t handle that as well as we need to, it’s as simple as that. I know we made changes to our starting lineup, but these guys could have to play. We didn’t answer the bell in the third quarter, the way we need to. That’s why this week is so important.”
Mark Cook currently is the director of editorial content and Bucs beat writer and has written for PewterReport.com since 2011. Cook has followed the Buccaneers since 1977 when he first began watching football with his Dad and is fond of the 1979 Bucs team that came within 10 points of going to a Super Bowl. His favorite Bucs game is still the 1979 divisional playoff win 24-17 over the Eagles. In his spare time Cook enjoys playing guitar, fishing, surfing and family time at the beach. In addition, Cook can be found in front of a television or in Doak Campbell any time the FSU Seminoles are playing. Cook is a native of Pinecrest in Eastern Hillsborough County and has written for numerous publications including the Tampa Tribune, In the Field and Ya'll Magazine. Cook can be reached at email@example.com
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