Quotes from Training Camp

Bucs head coach Jon Gruden discusses the first weekend at Bucs training camp

(on practice)
"We had a good opening day of practice. Everybody's here and signed, and that's a credit to our organization and our players. I'm pleased with the opening day of practice."

(on whether there were any surprises)
"It's too early to tell. We're just beginning. We've got to put the pads on Monday morning. We're using these first two days to get our guys re-acclimated to football and playing speed. But guys came back in shape, to the man they made their reporting weights, and again that's one of the characteristics that we're looking for."

(on whether ‘Turn the Page' is his new motto)
"I don't know. I'm kind of perceived to be the motto man here, I guess. I don't have a lot of slogans or cliches, but we've turned the page. We're only going to talk about doing that one more time, and that's today. We've got no wins and no losses, just like everybody else. We realize that we've got to pay the rent and we've got a lot of work to do to get ourselves ready for the regular season."

(on the competition between the offense and defense)
"It's a very unique competition that way. It's not one of the normal training camps I've taken part of. We're trying to do everything we can offensively to attack this defense and have success, and they're doing the same thing in their rooms. It's very competitive on the practice field and in the coaches' meeting rooms, and I think that's something our players feed off of. We've got great competitors in our locker room, as well."

(on being more comfortable this year)
"We feel like we're going to improve as a team offensively just being in the second year of our system, but that guarantees us nothing. We have made some changes. We've got a new center, we've got a couple new players like Thomas Jones and Dwayne Rudd who have to come in here and compete and earn jobs and make plays for us. In some areas, we're starting from ground zero. We're very confident, but we're going to keep it inside our house and remain humble and no-nonsense, and work hard."

(on the team's motivational level)
"We've got a highly-motivated crowd, self-motivated people, blue-chip leaders on this team and on this coaching staff, starting with (Monte) Kiffin and (Rod) Marinelli and Bill Muir. These guys know how to lead and the players know how to lead themselves. We're confident we can be a darn good team again but we also fully respect everybody else in this league and what it takes to get it done."

(on how practice went)
"It went pretty good. There was some good execution on both sides of the ball. There are some things, obviously, that need to be cleaned up, and that's why we go back to the Celebration (Hotel) and find our projectors and go to meetings."

(on if he was surprised by Monte's enthusiasm)
"No. I don't know where people who haven't been around Monte Kiffin (get that idea). He's enthusiastic when I take him for a ride on my jet ski. He's excited as hell to go on my jet ski. He's a guy that brings a lot of juice to the football team. When you look at (Warren) Sapp and (Derrick) Brooks and Simeon (Rice), these guys love to play the game. And I think offensively you're starting to see some guys really come to life. Keyshawn (Johnson)'s more comfortable in his alignments, (Keenan) McCardell knows where he's going, Brad Johnson's under control right now and it's exciting."

(on if it's fun to go against Kiffin and the defense in practice)
"Yeah, it is. I really think it makes us better. It makes us better strategically, it makes us work harder in the rooms to try to find ways to have success. Operating a world-class defense that's number one in just about every situation is a great challenge for us offensively, and hopefully we're applying pressure to them."

(on getting more comfortable with Keyshawn Johnson)
"It's big. You can only get so much information from other people. You have to have firsthand experiences to try to improve your relationships. When I fell in love with my wife, I didn't know all about her the first three weeks. We've grown over the last 12 years in our marriage. That's kind of an analogy I'm using with Keyshawn. I'm hoping that I can better understand him and also get a better feel for him as a football player so we can put him in better situations in '03."

(on the Bucs' stable of running backs)
"We're going to try to do everything we can to put these players in positions to showcase what they can do. Somebody needs to step up. We know about (Mike) Alstott – he's a Pro Bowl player and a guy we see as a clutch ballplayer. We know about (Michael) Pittman. I'm looking forward to watching (Aaron) Stecker this summer, and I'm really intrigued by some of the things I've seen from Thomas Jones and Travis Stephens, so we'll see."

(on battles for jobs)
"Well, there are some guys who have made the team. You know Sapp's going to make it and Simeon's going to make it. But there are some very intense battles going on and special teams are going to be a key contributor to those decisions. But Darian Barnes and Jameel Cook are having a battle out here. We've already talked about the halfback position. When Jason Whittle returns to the offensive guard position, that battle will heat up. We'll see what happens at linebacker. Are we going to keep five, are we going to keep six? How many defensive backs? Can we afford to keep Dwight Smith inside and is Jermaine Phillips going to compete with him for that position? So we'll see. There are a lot of unique battles going on right now."

(on how you avoid the ‘Super Bowl hangover')
"We've already done that. We've taken the pill or whatever it is, swallowed it and that's over. We got a ring, we had a party, we had a parade and we had a great time. We've got nice memories. But like I said, we've got no wins and we've got a long way to go. We've done that. We want to talk about this year because that's what year it is."

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