Initial Comments ...
"I'm pleased overall, I think, with the football game and the fact we (put ourselves in) some good situations. I think that's key. We had a good opportunity for our young guys to experience NFL football. In the first half and early in the game, we still have to work and get used to tackling and being around the ball and all those things that you don't get to do in practice. We've got to keep working on that.
"Obviously, we don't (want to have) a turnover with the first (team) offense with (our starting quarterback) Andy (Dalton). You don't want to have that. It was a great drive down the field. Defensively, (Tampa Bay) converted some third downs and we've got to be better at (that). That was one of their strengths last year that made a difference for them, so we've got to keep (working on) doing that. But we had a good opportunity tonight to take a deep look at the kickers, and that competition and that was good. I think other young guys got an opportunity to go out there and play — the backs, the linebackers and others — and we've just got to keep going. When we look at the tape, we're really going to gain some good things out of it."
How did you feel about the first series with the first team defense limiting Tampa Bay to just a field goal?
"Well, we let them convert some third downs. The quarterback (Jameis Winston) ran on one I think, and they converted another one, and those are things you can't do. We had a chance right off the bat to make a nice tackle — and put them in a yardage situation — and he runs for a first down, so those things we have to do (better). We had them backed up and we've got to keep them backed up, and that's a good lesson. So they got extended a little longer and that's good (learning experience)."
This was your first long look at Jeff Driskel at quarterback. What did he bring to the game in the second half?
"I thought he had (only) one incomplete pass there. He did a good job managing (the game), and he's done a great job thus far in camp, so his first time getting out in a game, (it was) good exposure for him."
He brings some versatility with his mobility, and you guys can do some different things on offense with him on the field, right?
"He can make something out of a broken play with his athleticism, athletic ability and speed."
How did you feel about how Joe Mixon did, particularly in his pass protections?
"I can't tell you (without watching video). Sorry."
How about overall?
"Well, with just his touches overall, I thought he did a good job. We'll make sure he's on track. He did a nice job and he's just one ankle (injury) from having an opportunity to do a little bit more."
You mentioned the kickers. How would you assess the competition?
"It's been fairly tight and I thought tonight was good exposure (for both of them). When you're out here in the real deal; they'll have a couple more opportunities."
I imagine you were happy to see your quarterbacks not taking too many hits, especially in the first half. That was a positive takeaway, right?
"Yeah. Obviously, we don't ever want the quarterback touched, so that was a good thing."
Was there anything off the top of your head that you guys didn't accomplish in this game, or were there situations you would have liked to have seen how the team would respond had they been in them?
"Well, you don't want to have red-zone goal line defense if you can help it. There are things on defense that you don't get to, but we were able to — with A.J. (McCarron) — have a bit of a one-minute drive. ... Then we were able to get them stopped on defense right there and force the punt with the timeout before halftime, and then (again) with the young guys in there — so those were all good things."
What happened with that last throw?
"I shouldn't have (thrown) it on my back foot, and I held on to it a little longer than I should have."
Until then, it seemed like everything was clicking ...
"Yes. I thought we moved the ball well. I thought we ran the ball effectively. We picked up a few third downs. I thought it was a great drive — we just didn't come away with a touchdown. It was my fault. I can't make that throw."
You very rarely throw picks in the end-zone ...
"I tried to lift it far enough outside, and the guy made a great play. I shouldn't have held on to it. I'll get the next one."
It looks like you had some room in the pocket ...
"I thought our line did a great job. I had time. They made it easy for me to step in and make the throws."
What did you think about Jeremy Hill's play?
"I thought he did well. He ran the ball hard, and that's what he can do. I thought it was a great job by him putting his head down and getting as many yards as he could on some of those runs. I thought we ran the ball well."
I think Joe Mixon got a rep in the end with you?
"Yeah he had a couple. We were trying to mix both guys in. I thought he played well tonight too. He showed his versatility. He made a couple of guys miss when AJ checked down to him. He showed guys what he's capable of doing."
Is that something you notice on the sideline?
"Yes for sure. We've seen him make plays like that all camp. It's good to see it in a live game."
It must be nice to have a healthy AJ Green and Tyler Eifert out there in a game ...
"Yes definitely. We're healthy, so hopefully we can stay that way."
Were you happy with the running game?
"Yes. I am. I thought our guys did a great job up front in giving lanes to fill, and I thought our backs ran hard. That's what you want to see in the brief action that you get in these preseason games. I thought they did a great job."
What did you think of Jeff Driskel's play?
"I thought Jeff played great. I'm really happy for him. I haven't seen a run like that from a quarterback in this league in forever. I don't even think he realized what he did until after the fact."
That was a good juke, did you know he had it in him?
"Yes. I think everybody around here knows he has it in him. To make two guys run into each other and fall down, it's pretty special."
What kind of advice have you been giving him?
"To trust himself. As a younger player, you want to go out there and make every play, but you have to make sure you do it the right way. For him, he just needs to go out there and play, and he showed that tonight."
What have you seen out of Josh Malone and Tra Carson?
"I thought Josh did great. Catching that touchdown was big. He's a talented guy; he has all the tools. Tra has a done a good job for us too. He's a guy who was on the practice squad last year and was brought up that last week of the season. He's done everything the right way and does anything you ask of him. He's the type of guy you look for as a teammate."
How was Joe Mixon's blocking?
"I think for him, it's seeing everything. I thought he did well. It's about communication and knowing where we're going, and who his guys are. He's big, strong, and he can protect. For a young back like that, it's all about just knowing where to go."
Were a couple of the runs you had designed runs?
"There are some reads in there where you're reading the (defensive) end and if he takes the (running) back I run it. It's not too hard and it's a good way to get some momentum going."
How much do you feel you can do things on your feet?
"That's something where it's not really going to show up in a training camp practice, but once you get into a game where the quarterback run is more part of the game, that's something I can bring to the table. It's not something I'm going to hang my hat on, but it's a weapon that I have and I'm going to keep using it. Not every play, but it's definitely something that I have, and something defenses have to prepare for."
Did you have a throw you particularly liked tonight?
"The touchdown to Josh (Malone) there — it was just a high ball. We always talk about when you get down there in the red zone you want high balls at their face mask and above. It was good timing. Josh did a good job of getting there behind their safeties."
Obviously it's just preseason, but how good does it feel to go out there and get some reps?
"Awesome. Reps are gold. It's just a great opportunity and I took advantage. I thought coach (Ken) Zampese did a good job of giving me some plays where I could be successful."
You not only made plays with your arm and your legs, but also with your head making good decisions out there. Did you feel comfortable?
"It was really comfortable out there. When you get into the first preseason game, the coaches want to see you play fast and that's what they're preaching. Go out there and trust your technique, trust what you've been coached to do and let it rip. So I was comfortable all night. Something as simple as getting a screen for 15 or 20 yards will really get you going."
Opportunity knocks, and you stepped in there and played really well tonight ...
"I felt really good about it. It's been a long road and I'm glad the organization stuck with me. You know coming from IR to practice squad for two years to now finally getting out there with the guys, it felt great. I felt really good about it."
You took some time to recover from a tough injury, but now that you're healthy you're playing well ...
"I'm really thankful for the organization for giving me the time to get better and get back on my feet with the year on practice squads and everything and just letting me learn and continue to strengthen my leg back up. I feel great now and I know the techniques, and I've been here long enough to know the schemes of the offense. So I'm feeling really good."
You haven't seen the tape yet, but do you feel like it was a pretty good night?
"It was a pretty good night. Like you said, I haven't seen the film, haven't seen the grade. I'm sure Paul (Alexander) is going to have things he wants cleaned up — there always is after the first preseason game. With a quick reflection on it, I felt pretty good."
Do you still feel you have something to prove?
"Absolutely. I don't think that will ever change. This league is just so competitive. There are so many talented guys around the league. There's competition every day — I know that."
Jeff Driskel was pretty athletic out there tonight ...
"We all knew it in here. He's one of the most athletic guys on the team the way he runs and can do everything. He's a very gifted guy. It was fun to see him go out there and show everybody what he's capable of."
Did you have any butterflies before your first carry?
"Yeah, really just going out there and getting that first contact. Once I got that I was able to get moving."
How important was it to take that first hit of the game to get in the groove?
"It was cool. At the end of the day, I was going out there to make a play for my team so that's pretty much about it. Other than that, just doing what I can do."
How did it feel to hear the crowd behind you when you took the field?
"It was fun. As soon as I ran out on the field everybody was cheering. It meant a lot to me and I appreciate that. I'm just going to keep going out to be the best teammate and best person around here. I appreciate that."
How did it feel to get your first NFL game under your belt?
"It was great to get this game in the books. Now I'm looking forward to next week. We've got to rebuild and get better. Everybody is going to go in and watch film and get our bodies right and get ready for practice and Kansas City next week."
Do you feel like the offensive line was a cohesive unit tonight?
"Yeah I think we did a great job of stacking guys on top of each other. We did the things that were necessary with our game plan and in the end it worked out well."
What was your comfort level tonight?
"I was just having fun and enjoying myself. You never know when your last snap is going to be. I'm just going out there and enjoying my teammates and working together and doing what we can."
How much more valuable is it to review actual game film compared to practice film?
"I approach every situation the same whether it's practice or a walk-through. In a championship mindset, that's the way you have to approach it or else you get complacent in certain areas and let things slip."
What was your opinion of Joe Mixon tonight?
"From when he was out there I thought he was doing really well. It was great to hear the crowd cheer for him. He's one of our guys and we appreciate what he's bringing to the table."
You were traded to the Bengals right before training camp. Is there a reason you fit in so well with these guys in this locker room?
"Guys like Adam Jones, Dre Kirkpatrick, Vontaze Burfict and others have welcomed me with open arms and it feels like I've been drafted all over again. A lot of stuff we did in Jacksonville is the same thing I'm doing with the Bengals. The terminology is a little bit different, but that's one thing about it. They traded for me at a good time and welcomed me with open arms and I came to work."
Did it feel good to get out on the field and cause some havoc in the backfield?
"It felt real good. I wish I would have gotten a sack — especially on that strip sack attempt. That's one thing about it. You've got to play hard and go hard each and every play. It was fun to be out there with a new team and new atmosphere. It felt like Christmas to me. It was a great feeling to go out there with a new group of guys and play hard."
How much does it feel wide open to you as far as the roster?
"I came here to be a football player, not a GM. I'll let him handle the hard stuff. The only thing I can do is control how I'm rushing, how I do and leave it up to him at the end of the day."
Do you feel like you made a pretty good first impression?
"A little bit. There's a lot of work to be done. I think I can get a little better at my run game and things of that nature. We'll go back and watch the film tomorrow. I had a good start today, but I just want to be consistent."
What was your comfort level out there tonight?
"It felt like it started a little slow, but after the first series we got things rolling. Those first couple of hits and live tackling, it's something you don't do a lot in camp."
Earlier in camp, Coach Lewis said the defense would have to be sharp to avoid fatigue. Do you think you were sharp tonight?
"Yeah, I thought we did a pretty good job for the first game. Obviously, we are going to have to clean up a few things here and there and do better."
Can you pinpoint specifically what you need to work on?
"For me personally, it was my tackling and my angles. I thought I could have done better with my angles and it's something that will come as the season goes on."
What are you hoping to work on with Defensive Coordinator Paul Guenther this week?
"Needing to improve as a unit now that the first game is out of the way. It will be good to just sharpen things up."
Do you feel like you have something to prove with these four preseason games?
"There are probably only two or three guys on this team that have nothing to prove. So we all have something to prove."
How did it feel to get out and get some game action under your belt? Does a preseason game feel different to you?
"It felt good and I felt more confident technique-wise. Once you get confident then the game slows down. The game gets easier when it slows down and that's the ultimate goal."
I know how excited Paul Guenther was to see you out there getting game reps. What was he telling you before the game?
"All he told me was to go out there and play loose and go out there and give it all you got."
As a defense, do you feel like the unit played well?
"Yeah, we did alright. We'll just go back to work and we'll be ok."
How did it feel to get out and get your first live game action since college?
"It felt great. I was out there feeling comfortable and loose. It's good to get that out of the way and now we can tackle the season head on."
BUCCANEERS POSTGAME QUOTES
AUG. 11, 2017
TAMPA BAY CINCINNATI
Initial comments ...
Vernon Hargreaves was aggressive on his INT. Was that the type of play you want to see from him?
"Absolutely. They are on the one yard line, knocking on the door to score, and you know they have points guaranteed with a field goal. That was a really nice break on the ball and catch. I didn't have a great view of it; it was on the other side of the field, but it saved points."
On his team's backup quarterbacks ...
"(The competition) is close. Fitz (QB Ryan Fitzpatrick) looked like he played a lot of football, and of course, we wanted to see Griff (QB Ryan Griffin) play a lot. (His injury) was an unfortunate, freak thing. When he got hit, he fell on his shoulder, and the guy landed on him. He is still being evaluated. It was unlucky for Griff, and what we expected from Fitz. It was good to see Sefo (Liufau) get in there, because he hasn't been getting a lot of reps."
On the return game ...
"We had two nice returns on the night. (Bernard) Reedy on the punt and Josh Huff on the kickoff. Bernard has been with us before — in Atlanta — and he does bring a nice element in the return game."
On Jameis Winston ...
"Jameis was nine out of 13 (passing), and I think there was just one throw we would like to have back. On that third down to Mike (Evans), if he puts that ball in front of him, Mike has a ways to run. It's preseason game number one, and when you're playing just series ... When you're backed up, we would have loved to finish (the first drive) with a touchdown, but it didn't work out that way tonight."
How much did Roberto Aguayo's missed field goal hurt his chances?
"That's something that will definitely be talked about. I keep saying it, and I can't say it any more. You are a kicker; you have to make your kicks. He kicked-off well, but that was a good situation for our competition, where we got in field goal range with a chance to get one and go for the onside kick. You would like to keep your chances alive at the end of the game, and that pretty much ended our chances."
You were backed up both times you had the ball. How satisfying was it to be able to move the ball down the field both times?
"Anytime you face adversity on your first drive as a team, we see how we react to it. I believe we did well. We definitely didn't get stopped by them. We stopped ourselves."
How do you feel the offensive line played?
"The offensive line did great. The Bengals didn't throw too much at us, but it's still good to play against another team. We were ready to play against another squad."
You had a great connection with Mike Evans tonight ...
"Mike Evans is one of the best wide receivers in the game. When the ball goes his way, he's going to get it. I won't shy away from getting him the ball."
Tonight you seemed very comfortable ...
"It was fun. It's more than just having weapons around you. It's fun to be out there with all the guys. We cherish these moments. We've been in camp for two weeks practicing against each other every day. Now we get to compete against another team and that's what football is all about."
Your familiarity with Adam Humphries, Cameron Brate and Mike Evans seemed to come into play tonight ...
"Absolutely. Adam Humphries will always be our silent assassin. He's so good. He always finds a way to get open. I will not discriminate in getting everyone the ball."
You had a couple of catches on the opening 92-yard drive. What worked well for the offense to move the ball deep out of your own territory?
"We just did a really good job converting. We converted a couple third downs. We had a couple good runs there that were good for us. It seemed like Jameis (Winston) and Mike (Evans) kind of picked up where they left off last year and had a couple big plays for us. A big emphasis for us this offseason and training camp has been red zone, so it's frustrating to not be able to score a touchdown there, but to be backed up and be able to move the ball 92 yards is pretty exciting."
Jameis said he had to finish better. Is that why you work on these things, because you want seven instead of three?
"Exactly. Preseason games are a great time to work on things like that, like red zone. It just didn't go the way we wanted it to down there. We had a couple chances. Just couldn't punch it in down there at the end, so that's obviously something to continue to work on and hopefully improve throughout the preseason."
You finished last year with a back injury. How has the rehab gone, and how was it getting back out there under live fire tonight?
"It felt really good to be back. Obviously, the first game you get the butterflies again. Physically, I feel really good with where I'm at right now. We'll just build on what we did tonight next game."
What happened on the two misses?
"Honestly, the extra point felt good. I know I pushed it a little bit, and I felt hopefully it would stay in but it broke right. Unlucky. That last one, I was just trying to put a good hit on it. I hit it good. It was starting down the line and it just kept fading. Not what I wanted. Obviously not up to the standards that I want. You just have to keep your head up move on to the next day."
How much do you think about this?
"Obviously you wanted to come out and go 100 percent. I did some good things, did some good kickoffs, had a field goal there, but not what I wanted. You just got to put it past you. It's a new day."
How do you move on to the next one? What's your process?
"You've got to see the good you did. I thought I hit the ball well on all of them. It's just the first one hit the upright, and the next one came out to the right. For any kicker, it's not what you want, but you have to (move on). You can't dread on it. Obviously this is what we do, and we only have a few opportunities, so you try to capitalize on them, process it and move on."
What was your focus in the offseason after your first year?
"Just watching and seeing what I did, and really capitalizing on what I thought I did well. I'm hitting the ball well. I got unlucky on those two. I know what I'm capable of. You've got to put it behind you and keep going.
VERNON HARGREAVES III
How did it feel getting that first interception?
"It was good. It was good to get that first one of the season. Hopefully the other guys will pick some off just like I did, but it was good."
I heard it was your mom's birthday. Have you told her you have a little birthday gift for her?
"I didn't, but I think I will. I think I'm going to give her that ball for her birthday. She'll appreciate that."
Did you already get her something, or will that cover you for being last-minute?
"I didn't, being in camp. I've got to blame camp (laughs). I was going to get her something, but she'll enjoy the football.
You always want to get more interceptions, but why was this a point of emphasis for you from last year to this year?
"For me personally, I didn't get enough last year. I needed to get more. I just couldn't find it. I couldn't get where I was comfortable. Now, I'm a little more comfortable starting off. I'm starting to see the whole picture, starting to see the whole formations, and starting to recognize plays a little bit better."
How different did you feel in this first preseason game this year, compared to last year?
"Man, I felt like I've been here before. Last year I was nervous, and I was excited. I had to still learn the defense at the time, but now I've got the defense down. I've played 16 games, so it was just like another game for me."
Interceptions are always great, but to get one at the one yard line, are those especially good?
"Yeah, those are morale killers. I just took a chance. There wasn't a lot of space behind him, so I took a chance. I was being aggressive, and I happened to make the play."