On the team's injury situation:
"I don't have any injuries to report. As I said this morning, Ellis Wyms has
a little bit of a stomach ailment. He should be back in the morning but we'll
see how he feels tonight. Other than that, we're good to go."
On if the team has had any dehydration problems:
"No, I don't think so. We had a few guys get IV's this morning, but
that's pretty normal, particularly for this time of year. But we're giving a
lot less IV's than we did a year ago, which is a very good thing."
On if a lot of different players will return punts and kicks during the
"Well, Karl Williams is a guy we feel strongly about as our punt return. Aaron
Stecker did a fine job for us last year (on kickoff returns). We will look at
some other guys in the five preseason games. (Tim) Wansley and Aaron Stecker
will see some duty as punt returners, but there are other candidates. Obviously,
Jacquez Green will see some duty there. We'd like to see Thomas Jones and some
others return the ball. Hopefully we can force a lot of punts and get a lot of
looks at our punt return team. We'll see what happens."
On if he has challenged his team to erase the team's all-time kickoff
return TD drought:
"My first play as a head coach we took one back. It was the first preseason
game and Frank Murphy took it back. But, yeah, we have some big things that we
want to resolve in the kicking game. We want to set the table in terms of field
position. This is the area of hidden yardage. We would like to score, make more
impact plays, and that's why we're out here practicing."
On what he would like to see improved during training camp on special teams:
"Oh, every area. Our leading scorer is Martin Gramatica. We want to improve
the protection in that area. Obviously, we want to find a few more core football
players who can make major contributions on special teams. A lot of people
don't realize it, but the core players, the guys who play on every phase of
the kicking game, play between 18 and 20 snaps a game. Our protection on punts
lost a game against New Orleans. We had a critical breakdown in the Raider game.
We want to minimize those errors and do a much better job in all areas. We were
solid last year, but we see a lot of speed, a lot of guys who are capable of
picking up our level of play."
On rookie punter Andy Groom:
"He's a good prospect. He gets the ball off quickly and he's got a
powerful leg. We're going to put him a lot of situations on the practice field
and in the preseason games and try to see exactly where he is as a situational
punter and how he handles the game-like situations."
On punter Tom Tupa:
"We like Tupa. He's hitting the ball extremely well. I believe he broke a
Buc record for downing punts (in 2002), which was a big reason our defense was
so effective. He knocked the ball inside the opponent's 20-yard line a lot
last year. When we can put our defense on the field in that type of situation,
it certainly helps."
On if it takes a different kind of mentality to play special teams:
"Not really. I mean, it takes a certain breed, I think, to run down on the
kickoff team. It takes a lot of pride. A lot of these guys have strong
aspirations to be the starting middle linebacker or the starting cornerback or
the starting wide receiver or tight end, but it takes a special guy to look at
it the proper way. I think that's why they call it special teams."
On how the rookie offensive linemen are doing:
"In some ways pretty good and in some ways we're experiencing growing pains.
Austin King is making the calls and he's a deep thinker. I don't know if
that has to do with Northwestern or not, but sometimes he's over-analytical in
his decision making. But we like him. (Lance) Nimmo and (Sean) Mahan are doing
just as we expected. They're competing hard, they're showing flickers of
what they're capable of being and at the same time they're also experiencing
some growing pains. And they're blocking some pretty good players."
On center John Wade:
"We like Wade. He's going to be okay in there. We're looking forward to
getting Whittle back here. Whittle and Wade and Walker, the W Crew – we need
those guys together as soon as possible. I'm impressed with what Cosey
(Coleman) has done. Cosey's moving around better and his pass protection looks
to be improved."
On Wade's play-calling:
"Pretty good. I think the more we're out here and the more situations we put
him – blitz work, run audibles and things of that nature – the better. But
he's got a pretty good sense of what we're trying to do. The camaraderie in
that room is improving daily. We've got some new players in there, Bill
Muir's the catalyst and hopefully we can continue to emerge there."
On if he feels the need to be even more creative this year, as the Bucs have
a target on their backs:
"I can't remember when I've been in this league and we haven't had a
bullseye on our chest. You show up to play and anything goes. Again, we're
real shallow here. We're just going to go out and play and do the best we can.
What's done is done. We're 0-0 and so is everybody else. We're going to
just go out there and try to be at our very best. To do that, we have to
practice and we have to play together."
On how many guys actually make the team based on their special teams play:
"There are a lot. You sit in the meeting and you have to make a decision: How
many running backs, how many linebackers, how many receivers and how many tight
ends, how many safeties? The position coach's opinion weighs heavily, his
performance at that position weighs heavily and a lot of times we look down the
table and listen to what ol' Rich Bisaccia says. He's going to win a lot of
those decisions because this is as critical a part of our football as we have
here, the special teams."
On if Corey Ivy emerged last year:
"No question. That guy's an impact player in the kicking game. He knows that
and when he steps out on the field on a punt team or any phase he's involved
in, he's pretty dog-gone good. I think it's very important to him, and
because of that he's going to be a hard guy to beat out here."
On LB Shinzo Yamada:
"High-effort guy, man. I'll say a lot about him. He's in there taking
notes, he's working hard, he's learning his assignments and he loves
football. That's one of the things I like about him the most. He's fired up
to play and he's a special guy."
On if he's had to stop play on occasion because the energy level hasn't
been good enough:
"No. If anything we've had to cool it out a little bit. The energy level is
sometimes a little bit too extreme, particularly when we're not live. We're
not cutting people, we're not using full-speed tackling drills and we're
staying the heck away from the quarterback. Sometimes we've had to cool some
of our engines off a little bit. We don't want to lose sight of the big
picture, and that's to prepare our team to play in the preseason games. We
love the energy and we expect that to continue – it's very competitive out
here – but I have not had any problems revving anybody up yet.
The Bucs announced today the release of LB Clayton White. White, who signed with the Bucs in April after being released by the New York Giants, played in all 16 games in 2001 as a rookie out of North Carolina State and was in the injured reserve list last season.
The Bucs also announced the signing of LS Chip Mattingly. Mattingly, drafted in 2002 out of the University of Louisville by the Buffalo Bills, was signed to a one-year deal. Terms of the contract were not disclosed.
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