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Wednesday transcripts

Posted Oct 6, 2010

MARVIN LEWIS


Lewis
On injuries:
“We’ll be all right. (Jonathan) Fanene gets closer to playing, so he’ll get some movement in this week.”

On Tampa Bay:
“Offensively, they’re a team that has a very talented backfield. They will be trying to get the ball into Cadillac (Williams’) hands. Their quarterback (Josh Freeman) does a good job of moving away from pressure. He’ll make accurate throws when he’s allowed to in the pocket. He’ll run and try to keep driving a lot that way. Kellen Winslow, I believe right now is leading the NFL in third down receiving. Outside, (they have) Mike Williams, and from what I understand, we’ll see a little bit more of the early pick this year, the receiver (Arrelious) Benn. They’re getting him involved in their offense a little bit more.”

On whether he envisions seeing more of LeGarrette Blount in Tampa Bay’s running game:
“I don’t know. I think you’ll need to call (Buccaneers coach) Raheem (Morris) and ask him. (laughs)”

On Raheem Morris:
“He’s a bright, energetic guy. He’s really sound, and a good football coach. I’m impressed that he made the determination to change offensive coordinators (before last season), and I think at some point he changed defensive coordinators and assumed that role himself. I’ve been impressed with what he’s doing. He understands what he wants to do, and he’s building upon that. He’s done a really good job.”

On the importance of this game:
“I think it’s our fifth game of the year, right? That’s where I put it. It’s our fifth game, and every time we walk out there it’s important to us.”

On the big day in the city on Sunday:
“It’s a big weekend for the city and it’s a great thing. The Reds having their first playoff game at home, us being home against the Bucs and someone told me there’s an ice show here (laughs). There’s something for everyone, but we get to kick it off first.”

And add to it the UC-Miami football game:
“It’s a big weekend; it’s great; that’s what everyone wants. It’s great for downtown. Obviously, it’s going through a great overhaul, and when everything’s finished, the orange barrels and everything are gone, it’ll be great.”

On the contribution to the offense of T Andrew Whitworth:
“From the time we met with him in Indianapolis (at the scouting combine), to when we fortunate enough to draft him, to when he was working with a guard as a rookie and making the move outside to tackle -- he has just continued to grow. His leadership has been outstanding, similar to what the quarterback has done. They kind of rely on each other, and they’re the polar ends of things. He’s a big, tough man. He’s organized and disciplined. He thinks about things very systematically. As Willie (Anderson) left us, Andrew moved into the position and assumed the role, which is great. He’s my rock down there in a lot of ways.”

On Andre Smith’s progress:
“I think as the back of my shirt will say, ‘Work to do.’ He’s grown up a lot this year, and hopefully he continues to and work as a player and help make us a better football team -- keep working at it. Today’s another opportunity to get better. I like the positive steps he’s taken. I like how he’s grown up as a man and as a pro, and that’s a good thing. The team wants him to succeed; he has advocates who want to see him succeed.”

On red zone inefficiency:
“I’m not happy with what we’re doing. We’re not scoring enough points. We have to keep at it. We have to be able to run the football to create more opportunity. We have to be able to throw and catch it and do some of the things we do. We have to have the protection, and the opportunity to get it done. So it’s three areas that all need to improve in order for us to be more efficient in the red zone. You’re not going to get a touchdown every time unless you’re willing to risk turning it over every time you’re down there. And the good thing is, the quarterback has kept (the ball) with us and has gotten us the opportunity to score points. We don’t want that to change. In other areas, I think we have to keep doing better. Carson has helped extend some plays that way; he’s got to keep doing that.”

On if the defensive penalties were caused by a lack of discipline:
“You can’t say it’s a lack of discipline. Lining up offsides is a lack of discipline. But from that point, the other things happen. There’s a zillion holding calls on the other side of the ball (defense) that haven’t been called all day long. We got one called on defense which was called at the wrong time for us. That was bad. Was it as egregious as the other ones? Not really. But it happened. It hurt us.

“The other things weren’t necessarily fouls, but they were called and we had to overcome them. We can’t sit down and whine about penalties all the time. That’s not what I do, and you guys keep asking that same question. We have to overcome penalties; they’re part of the game. The officials are out there doing the job the best they can. They give a good explanation. It’s happening fast. They have to make a judgment. Sometimes we’ll get some breaks. We had some that made it difficult and we didn’t overcome them.

“We have to play the football in the air. The most important part of playing pass defense in the National Football League is to be able to play it in the air. Don’t get yourself out of position where you have no chance but to look like you’re fouling the guy. Play big, play strong, don’t let him push you, because that’s what happens.”


TERRELL OWENS


Owens
On what he learned from Jerry Rice:

“I think a number of things. When you talk about the knowledge of the game, you think about his route-running. For a period of time as a rookie -- and a first, second, third-year guy -- I kind of sat back and watched him from afar. Obviously, he was an idol of mine. So I was reserved back then; I watched him and watched how he ran his routes, came in and out of his routes, and as we watched film, I kind of assessed what he saw with different coverages and things of that nature.

“Being in the West Coast offense, it was all about timing and precision. And so as I progressed, I began to get better and better with some of the things that I was doing. I was really raw, labeled as being green and didn't have a lot of experience, so I had a lot of catching up to do. And as I got older and I got better, it became a point of me really being patient within the offense. He (Rice) was the No. 1 guy; J.J. (Stokes) was the No. 2 guy; I was probably like the third or fourth receiver. So I had to be patient and when my time came, I had to be ready and available for those opportunities that came my way. So a lot of things I've done over my career were definitely contributed to by the things that Jerry taught me, whether he knew it or not.”

On if his personal accomplishments mean anything to him while he’s playing:
“No, it really doesn't, because  over the course of my career I realized that the things I did on the field and within the scheme of an offense -- the numbers, whether stats or what have you -- they took care of themselves. There were times when I realized that I would probably have a big game, or there would be opportunities for other guys. As I progressively got better, double-teams started coming my way, so I understood the importance of my role, whether it was a No. 1 guy being able to make myself available, or whether it was clearing out, knowing that it's going to get other guys open. Throughout my career, a lot of people have labeled me selfish in a number of ways, but despite that, I have been able to go out and do the things that I need to do on the football field.”

On what statistic means the most to him:
“It really doesn't matter to me, because if you look at the performance that I just had this past weekend, it was overshadowed because we lost. Had we won, it would be a great sense of accomplishment. Of course, I had so many people that texted me and congratulated me and things of that nature, but I was so pissed about the game that I really didn't even think about it. Of course, the numbers were there, but it doesn't really mean a whole lot when you lose. That's not my point of coming here (to break records). I came here to help this team with the opportunity of getting to the Super Bowl. When you lose like that, especially to a team you're supposed to beat, it doesn't sit well with me.”

On chemistry with Carson Palmer developing:
“I think there's been times (when it hasn’t been there), and I have to carefully choose my words here because people read into what I say. The chemistry has been there -- it's just been a few things here and there why we haven't connected. I don't want to go into it. But it’s been there (overall).
“I've been here a couple of months, and so we've gone through things in training camp, and he's still trying to learn me, trying to gauge my speed and my body language as far as coming in and out of routes. That's going to be an adjustment for Carson. He's been used to a number of receivers for so many years. And even with Chad (Ochocinco), it's clockwork with those guys. They've been here eight-plus years together. And so for me and for him, my body language is different, my stride is different, I've been taught different ways about certain routes and things of that nature. So it's been an adjustment on both people.”

On the Browns giving him single coverage:
“Well, I think it's something  a lot of people feed into, relating to when I went to Buffalo. And when I left Buffalo, is was the fact that they thought I was over the hill and I couldn’t play and I lost a step, and things of that nature. It's disappointing to be in that situation. All along I've told you guys, I knew I could play this game. But if you listen to certain guys -- GMs, scouts or what have you that assess film -- for whatever reason, they said I couldn’t play.

“I think that's ignorance. It's one of those things where it was frustrating, because they don't know me. I know me. And God has put me in a position to be able to play at a high level at my age. Who says just because you're in your 30s that you can't play? Who dictates that? No man can dictate that. And I think I showed that in the game this past Sunday.”

On if he won’t get much single coverage going forward:
“If you want to single-cover me, then fine. If you want to blitz, then do what you've got to do. But if you think that I can't play this game at a high level and put up the numbers that I did, you're in for a rude awakening. My thing is that's what I'm supposed to do. If they're going to double Chad, then I have to step up and make plays. If they're going to double me, then Chad has to step up and make plays. If they feel like they can double both of us, then Carson has to make plays with the other guys. (Jermaine) Gresham has to step up. (Jordan) Shipley has to step up. The running game has to step up. Everybody has to step up.”

On the game being a highlight film for him:
“Well, I think it was an eye-opener for a lot of people out there that have said a lot of negative things about me, as far as I've lost a step, I can't play. And I listened to the commentary on the long pass -- that the guy fell down. I was on the same turf that he was, just as everybody else. That's part of it. Everybody wants to make an excuse for the day that I had in a negative way, but it is what it is. I'm able to do a number of things. This is my first year with this team, but I’ve been playing football for a while. It's not like I don't know how to play the game. I've played and faced a number of different personnel when it comes to defensive backs. I've faced a number of defensive schemes and

On using his experience to his advantage:
“Well from a mindset, yeah. You go on that, sometimes experience does take over, but it's not only for me. I think that's a situation for the quarterback to assess; that's a situation for the offensive coordinator to assess. When you have mismatches out there, then you try to exploit those situations. So it's not just me, because me and Chad, we're the same. We're always thinking we can be open on any given play. Throw us a ball on any given route and we'll make that play. But we understand it's the team concept, it's a team game and schematically, just like defenses try to take us out of the game, then from an offensive scheme or standpoint, we have to exploit those mismatches out there.”

On the red zone difficulties:
“Each team that I've been on has a different red zone package. Here, we're all about running the ball, pounding the ball in, and the receivers are out in some of those packages when you get down to the red zone. We have a package for running the ball, trying to pound the ball in there. You've just got to take advantage of the opportunities that are out there.”

On how he feels about trash-talking on Twitter:
“Well, it depends on how you take it. For myself, I try to have fun with it. I'll hear stuff that's said about me ,and I'll go on attack and I'll go on a little rampage. People can never really grasp the context of what I'm texting, so they take it that I'm pissed off and stuff like that. There are things that you do hear and you take offense to it, but I think Twitter and all these social networks are a way of really getting your point across and really giving your side of the story. So for myself and I know Chad, I have a lot of fun with it.”

On Randy Moss being traded:
“I think it should be an eye-opener for a lot of guys around the league. I think it's disappointing in a sense, but it could be a blessing for Randy. Randy has done a lot of things for that organization. He's done a lot of things to propel (Tom) Brady to where he is. Trust me, I know Brady is a great quarterback, but if you look at the numbers he's put up with Randy, they're very, very impressive. And, I think a lot of guys should look at this from a standpoint of it is a business.

“So you have to go out there and do whatever you can for your family and for yourself, because when it comes to management and owners, they don't care about you. That right there showed that they feel you're expendable. To me, it's mind-boggling and it's disappointing for Randy to be traded at this point, where he is in the season and his career, and not be able to have a big payday because Brady just had a payday, and a lot of the numbers that he's put up is because of Randy.”


CARSON PALMER


Palmer
On offensive concerns being alleviated last Sunday:

“I felt great going into the game, just unsatisfied with the outcome. I don’t think anybody on our team is playing for personal stats. Guys are playing for wins and losses in a game that we needed to win, and it was one of those games that we felt like we should go in and play good football and win, but it didn’t work out. That wasn’t the outcome. That is what’s great about the NFL football season. It’s long and you’ve got to keep fighting and keep working and get another shot next week.”
 
On the Cleveland blitz packages affecting the running game:
“They brought a lot of pressures, more pressures than they had in the past. They weren’t going to let us run the ball for 150 yards like we had before. They did a good job in the run game, and we have some things we still need to clean up and improve on.”
 
On if Bengals are seeing more run blitzes than last year:
“I don’t think so. I think every game is a little bit different from another, especially when you play a division opponent. You play against them twice a year. You are going to see some different things than you have in the past. They are going to try to surprise you with some things. That was one of the wrinkles they had in their game plan against us.”
 
On how Terrell Owens still plays at a high level:
“It’s hard to pick one thing. I think if there is one thing that has put him where he is in the history of the league, it’s his work ethic. He doesn’t take a day off, doesn’t take a practice off. There’s a lot of guys once they get past 32, 33, they kind of slow themselves down and back off on Wednesdays and Thursdays. He wants to run as many routes as possible. He wants to run every one full speed. On screen plays, when the receivers aren’t even a part of the play, he’s running a decoy route full speed. I have heard him say things about learning things from Jerry Rice, and that was one of the things he learned. I don’t think his work ethic has changed from his rookie year of watching Jerry until now.”
 
On what’s contributing to red zone inefficiency:
“I think it’s a combination of things. You get down in the red zone, the field is so much shorter to defend, and you have to be perfect. We haven’t been perfect. One thing we need to do is run the ball better when we get down there. And once we do get to passing situations, we have to find a way to get the ball in the end zone. There is no trick to it, there is no luck to it, it is just about being perfect and everybody executing their job. That is what we are going to continue to work at.”
 
On if Bengals should be able to run the ball if the defense is playing the pass:
“Not if it’s third-and-eight, third-and-nine. It’s tough to run the ball for a first down when they are dropping guys, because you don’t get all your offensive linemen on blocks yet, so it leaves a free guy here and there. The goal down there is to get in third-and-short where there is a run/pass option, not in third-and-long where they can drop a bunch of guys, kind of sit and cover the goal line, and then if you decide to run the ball they can get you after five or six yards.”
 
On Owens bringing some things that Chris Henry did:
“Chris had been here for a long time. He was very comfortable in the system and we were comfortable with him in the system. He was such a target down there (in the red zone). I don’t know how many red-zone touchdowns he had, but it was a lot. A lot of his touchdowns were red-zone touchdowns. (With him) being 6’5”, being fast and being able to jump, we put in some jump ball situations and different significant plays designed specifically for him. Terrell, we are getting there with him. We are going to figure out more things we can do with him, because he is capable of doing a lot of the same things Chris was. We will keep finding things for him as well as find things for Jermaine (Gresham) and for Chad (Ochocinco), too.”
 
On whether the connections with Owens last Sunday were a product of coverage or improved chemistry:
“I think it’s a little bit of both. I think we are getting a little bit more comfortable with each other. It was coming on in practice, you could feel it all week. A lot of it, too, was him getting some man coverage and some single coverage in certain situations, and we had some great calls versus the right coverages in a couple big-play situations he had. So, it’s a combination of a number of things, but we are getting to a point where he’s getting a little more comfortable, and I’m getting more comfortable with him and guys around him that are running crossing routes with him, and running routes that he helps get open or they help him get open. I’m getting more and more comfortable seeing him bring a defender their way and have to rub off a defender, or whatever the situation may be.”
 
On the importance of this week’s game:
“This is a must-win, absolutely. The fact that we are going to get a week’s rest, and just going into the bye week off a win is a huge deal. So we are acting like our backs are against the wall, because they are. It is early in the season, but we have a chance to play an out-of-division team at home, an out-of-conference team, you only get so many of those shots a year. You want to fare well against those teams. More importantly, with where we are in the season, this is an important game for us.”
 
On what the offense loses without Jordan Shipley:
“You lose our starting third receiver. I think everybody on our team is confident in Andre (Caldwell) and also Quan (Cosby). They are both guys that made plays in big games and guys that can do it. We would love to have Ship back, but I think the more important thing is for him to get everything fixed, and get as healthy as possible. It is a good thing we do have a bye next week, because it just gives him an extra week and chance to get healthy. Having both those two options with Andre and Quan are awesome for our offense. They are guys that understand the hot routes. They understand run blocking. They understand the pass game and they are capable of running everything we run.”
 
On the Tampa Bay defense:
“They look young. They are fast; they are quick; they are explosive. What they lack in some leadership roles, they make up for in athleticism. They really run around the field well. They are very aggressive in the run game, the pass game. We need to use our vets in this game, especially our vets on offense, playing against a youthful team. They are going to have a little bit more energy; they are going to be a little bit quicker off the ball, but we need to use our experience and help us win this game.”
 
On if the no-huddle won’t be as beneficial because of Tampa Bay’s youth and quickness:
“I think so. I think a big thing in the no huddle, too, is you get guys out of shape and tired. When you got a bunch of 23-year-old guys, those guys are hardly out of shape when you come into the league. That’s been an advantage for us in the past. We’ll always keep that option open.”
 
On the no-huddle being worked in earlier in games:
“It just depends on, ‘Does the game call for it?’ In both those situations (against New England and Cleveland), when time is running out, and you don’t have a lot of time left and have to make up points fast, it might make a little more sense because you can get more plays off in less time. It is something completely dependent on the opponent. And we might have games where we lose a tight end or one of our big receivers is down. It just depends on a number of factors, and we’ll decide throughout the week what makes sense, when to use it or when not to.”

 

The following are transcripts of conference calls between Buccaneers head coach Raheem Morris and quarterback Josh Freeman and the Cincinnati media.

RAHEEM MORRIS

On the Buccaneers’ 2-1 start:
“It’s certainly a good feeling, but the guys are not giddy. I think with the work that we’ve put in and the improvements that we made at the end of last year, going into this season we expected to go out and play well. We’re certainly humble and we’re certainly grateful for the position that we’re in, and we look forward to a great road test against playoff team.”

On winning three straight on the road dating back to last season:
“I don’t know if I can steal those wins from last year, but we certainly played well at Carolina and we had the opportunity to go out there and play well in our first game of the season. I think it’s more of a testament to us being able to go out there and play hard, smart, fast and consistent. That’s just what we’re trying to do and what we want to do throughout the time that we continue to play.”

On the ex-Bengals (Corey Lynch, Dezmon Briscoe, and Chris Pressley):
“Well, you guys did Hard Knocks and I got a chance to look at all of those guys. They’ve done a nice job here, and you have to give a lot of credit to our scouting department for their ability to go look at tape and evaluate talent across the league. What the young men have been able to do here has been pretty special. Corey Lynch has come in and earned a helmet. He’s blocked a couple of punts for us; he’s been dynamic on special teams and he’s also had to play a couple of roles for us at safety. Chris Pressley has been out there and been a banger for us. He’s given us a body that can throw himself in there and absolutely move some people out of the way. And then having the ability to pick up Briscoe right now, a young and another dynamic receiver to add to the guys that we already have in (Mike) Williams, (Arrelious) Benn and (Sammie) Stroughter. We’re trying to formulate our receiving corps right now with our draft class and the last two. We’re really young, we’re really talented and they’ve got a bunch of energy that they bring us every day.”

On the Buccaneers red-zone struggles:
“When you talk about the red zone, it’s really about the decisions and making smart decisions in the red zone. A lot of times our young quarterback has been making smart decisions down there. The one time we turned the ball over down there was a fumble by our back who ran into the back of our lineman. But, I’m really pleased with him making smart decisions and not forcing some bad errant throws that can lead to interceptions and lead to turnovers down there, because those are the things that will kill you. We have been able to get the three points and maintain the lead. You like to score (touchdowns) but you don’t want to force it; you don’t want to force the issue. Every coach and everybody in the league talks about it, that you have to take what the defense gives you a little bit, and when you have an opportunity to exploit it you have to capitalize on it and make the play.”

On QB Josh Freeman:
“Really, I cheated. I was able to go to college and I was in the Big 12 (at Kansas State) with him for a year so I was with him in 2006 and I was able to see him. You see a big young developing kid that is going to go out there and work his butt off and try to be his very best every day. That’s just what he’s done since he’s been in the league. He’s constantly in the office. He’s constantly trying to get people to throw with him. He’s constantly trying to get people to go out and get better with him. He’s constantly trying to get better with protections and indentifying problems and talk about them with his coordinator and quarterback coach. He’s just a hungry kid that you love to be around. I’m sure he’s got a lot of those Carson Palmer-type qualities that he’s bringing to our football team and really straightening us out. And what Carson does for that football team, and you see it every day on the sidelines, as the guy who keeps everything in place, and is the reason that you have a consistent winner and a playoff team.”

How much were you hoping he fell to your draft spot?
“Honestly, for me, my heart was down in my stomach all day hoping he would make it to us. We had the 19th pick and had to trade to move up and get him, which we did, because we wanted to ensure that we did get the quarterback and we wanted to start our franchise off in the right way. We’re talking about that position, that cornerstone guy and key element to a team that you need to be a successful head coach. We’re trying to build a team for longevity. I wanted to be able to do that.”

On criticism of Carson Palmer:
“That’s all a part of being the quarterback. You know that once you get into that line of fire as a quarterback, you’re going to be the reason for whatever it is. Whether you win or whether you lose or whatever is going on. And Carson brings those qualities that I’m talking about, the mental toughness not to worry about that. He’s going to go play every single game and give his best effort every week, because that’s the kind of guy he is and you can see that on tape. He’s not going to complain, he’s not going to throw any of his teammates under the bus. He won’t throw coaches under the bus; he won’t throw anyone under the bus. He’ll take it on his big shoulders and he’ll try to come out and be his best self every day.
 
“That’s what I see on tape. They’re having some offensive problems all across the board, if you want to just blame one guy. They’re fixing it and it’s going to take time to fix it and he knows that. He’s doing a good job of getting the ball out of his hands and to his playmakers like T.O. like he did last week, and Ocho and Jermaine Gresham the young guy coming along, and he’s also got Cedric Benson in his backfield. He’s cleaning some things up and they’re cleaning some things up on the run, but you can’t forget that they were a playoff-caliber football team and they’ll get things fixed fast here in a hurry. When you’re a quarterback in this league, unless you’re named Peyton or Tom Brady, you’re going to get some criticism.”

On Terrell Owens’ performance last weekend:
“I’m always impressed with T.O. You’re talking about the second-leading receiver in the history of the game. I’m amazed all of the time about the negative stuff that people say about this great player that we get a chance to watch during our time in the league and during our time being able to watch television. When it’s all said and done, you might be talking about the guy who played the longest and the guy who has the most yards, because I don’t see him slowing down. I see a guy that takes care of his body. I see a guy that takes care of himself well and he goes into every season playing with great passion. If he keeps going the right way, I don’t know what we’re going to say about him and what his legacy is going to be.”

On double-covering Chad Ochocinco:
“They said it best when you guys signed him, and that was a big acquisition, but you’ve got to pick your poison. That was the poison that Coach Mangini chose to choose last week (double-covering Ochocinco) and T.O. went out and did what he was supposed to do. He won a lot of his one-on-one matchups and won a lot of the individual thing that you have to get better at, and that’s what you have to go out there and do. But Chad, in my eyes, is certainly a No. 1, a big-time receiver and so is T.O. You guys have got two guys who can be a No. 1 on any given Sunday. When they’re doing those things, you have to get ready to play them. And the two young guys are no slouches either. You talk about Jordan Shipley and Andre Caldwell, and they catch some balls and create excitement and it’s fun to watch - not for me this week, but on other weeks it’s fun to watch.”

On the running game:
“We’ve got to fix a couple things, and it starts at a couple of different positions. We’ve been victimized on some of our big runs, and on some of Cadillac’s big runs being called back because of holdings. I’m not blaming where the officials are lined up at and all of those things, but that’s just something you have to get used to. Those are some of the things we’re going through, some of the learning curve that you’re going to have to go through with the running back situation.

“We’ve got two young guys who can potentially back him up. One of our young guys is injured, and another of our young guys just got here two or three weeks ago, and we’ve got to get those guys acclimated into the system and find ways to get those guys carries and do the things that they do well. We’re a young developing team that has to get better across the board, and that starts up front and goes right to our running backs and our ball handling, goes to procedure of doing what we want to do when we want to do it and we’re just going to go out there and continue to get better. We’re not going to let the facts that our stats say what they do, because it’s Week 3 and we have so much time to improve and get better. There’s no better time to do it than when you’re 2-1. When you’re winning and you’ve got time to improve, that’s a good feeling.”

On Mike Nugent (who was with Tampa Bay last year):
“It just wasn’t the right time for him here, but Mike Nugent is a great guy. I texted him ‘congratulations’ when I saw he hit the five field goals in a row and won (AFC Special Teams) Player of the Week. I think he’s a great kid, a great guy and we thought he had a powerful leg. The timing where we were as an organization just didn’t work out for him down here, but I am glad to see that it worked out for him when he did leave because we left on great terms and there is no guy that I cheer for more – other than this week – than Mike. He’s a phenomenal young man and he showed nothing but class when he was here, and I’m happy to see him land somewhere and do well.”


JOSH FREEMAN

How was the bye week?

“It went well. I had a chance to relax and catch up with some family time and get a little studying done. It was very productive but at the same time relaxing.”

How has year two been different from year one for you?
“It’s been a big difference. I’ve learned a lot of things. In year one, I knew the stuff in the book, but I really couldn’t translate it fluently or as fast as I would need to on Sundays. A lot of times it was a matter of not being up to speed and things not clicking for us. But as the year went on last year, it got better, and we started to grow as an offense. We took that into the offseason and stayed on the upswing, and I feel we’re still playing good football and we’re still improving.”

So, is it a situation where the “light bulb” has come on for you and you understand more of the offense?
“Yeah, for sure. There is still a lot of stuff that I’ve got to learn and improve on, but at the same time I feel like we’re clicking pretty well as an offense and I’m real excited about the rest of the offense.”

How important is it for you to get the running game going, whether it’s with Cadillac Williams, LeGarrette Blount or anyone else?
“Our team is trying to establish an identity as a team that runs the football. You always want to succeed offensively, whether it’s running the ball or throwing the ball, but at the same time when we’re running the ball, I’ve got to get my run points. When we get into a third-down situation, maybe it falls on my shoulders to convert that. You always want to see your offense and your team succeed in every aspect of the game.”

How has Kellen Winslow been for you guys?
“He’s been great. He’s a good guy in the locker room, a hard-working guy, and when he comes out on Sundays, he does nothing but make plays.”

Can we call him your security blanket, as some like to call tight ends for their quarterbacks?
“Oh, yeah. (laughing)”

Is he a guy who when things break down or you’re looking for that big play, you’re looking for him?
“Yeah, you could say that, a security blanket (still laughing). But I’m fortunate because I’ve got a number of guys on my team that when things break down, I know how they’re going to react and I know where they’re going to be. But Kellen is definitely doing a good job of getting open and making plays in tough situations.”

Both the Buccaneers and the Bengals have struggled scoring touchdowns in the red zone so far. What did the bye week show you?
“It’s really been a matter of taking advantage of the opportunities. The opportunities have been there, and we just haven’t executed. Obviously it’s early in the season, so nobody is freaking out about it, but it has definitely been an area of emphasis that we’ve been working on. I can definitely see areas where we can improve, simple little things that would cause touchdowns instead of field goals. We definitely feel that it’s going to be crucial this week, that when we get into the red zone, we have to come away with touchdowns and not field goals.”

 

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