Jon Gruden Transcript: Sept. 2

Here is the transcript from Jon Gruden's press conference following practice on Sunday, Sept. 2:

On if he would talk about keeping four quarterbacks

"We're going to talk about Jeff Garcia, he's our quarterback. We're going to take a look at our roster today and tomorrow and continue to try to improve it. What we have today are 53 guys we think can help us, and I'll just leave it at that."

On having four quarterbacks being unprecedented for him

"Yeah, it is. There are a lot of unprecedented things for me in store, hopefully. But, again, I'm going to talk about Jeff Garcia. I'll let Bruce Allen talk about every guy on the roster and why we chose the players we chose. I'm just eager to get started with Seattle."

On if Chris Simms was able to practice on Sunday

"He's just finishing whatever rehab he's doing. He's supposedly going to be ready soon."

On if he expects the Bucs' roster to change significantly in the coming days

"Well, there's a chance there will be some changes. We're not unlike anyone else. We're looking at the players that became available last night. There are still some trade situations that are rumors at this point. We're going to try to get better any way that we can. We do have 53 guys on the team at this point in time, guys that we think have talent. At the same time, we'll see if there's anyone that we think can help us."

On if the team will be looking for new players in specific areas or all over

"We're just looking to see who's available. If there's a good football player that we think is an upgrade for us then obviously we'll go that route. If not, then we'll stand pat with the men that we have."

On releasing WR/KR Mark Jones and who will return punts

"Well, it's a tough situation. He's a good player, great guy and hard worker. I think he's an NFL returner; you saw that a couple years ago. It will be done by committee. We're going to get [Joey] Galloway some looks. We think he's rare at that. We think [Phillip] Buchanon has punt-return ability. And we think Ike Hilliard against some teams that don't give you many options – we have three guys that can catch it, and that's the decision at this time."

On if Garcia is up to speed with the offense

"Yeah, I think he is. He's in for a great challenge. This will be one of the great road trips that we ever make here. This is a tough place to play. It's the loudest stadium in the league, according to the guys I talk to, and they're a good team. They're great in some areas. They're well-coached. I do believe Jeff will be ready and I'm anxious to kick it off with him."

On who will start at flanker

"There will be some situations, personnel groupings, where the men will come in and the men will go. We're looking for a flanker to basically be an every-down flanker, and that might be the case at some point soon, but right now I'm not ready to say that we're going that route."

On the health of the team

"I think we're doing well. [Arron] Sears and [Jeremy] Trueblood and all those guys returned. I also saw [Patrick] Chukwurah got his knee brace off so he's closing in on his return. I think other than Patrick Chukwurah, we're about 100 percent ready to go."

On if it limits him to keep only four running backs

"We feel like [B.J.] Askew is really an outstanding fullback. He's really given us some life in the hole and some creative playmaking. Michael Pittman and Earnest Graham have that ability also. We have been in a lot more one-back situations here in the first four preseason games – I think 115-120 snaps of one-back. There's a chance we sign another back too at some point. There are some good ones available."

On Michael Pittman's versatility

"We would like to get Pittman on the field more, to be honest with you. Sometimes you lose a really good guy like Mike Alstott and you have to lean on somebody else. Pittman will be a guy we lean on."

On Tanard Jackson

"He's got everybody's attention, I think, in the league. He had a great preseason. He missed a game because he was hurt but he's been really good back there. He's been good as Ronde's backup in the nickel and he's also played good at safety."

On looking for players on the cut lists

"Any time the waiver wire comes across your desk you always look at it and see who the players are. We've had a lot of meetings and done our work in the offseason, and if you like a guy that is available you always entertain the thought of bringing him in. To do that, you have to release somebody, that's the nature of this league. So you've got to weigh both things and that's something we'll continue to do."

On what Greg White did to make the team

"You'd have to ask Monte [Kiffin], I think, more than anything. Monte's really happy with that kid, and I am, too. Greg won us the game the other night with the late pressure and had a couple other pressures, high-effort plays. If you don't discriminate and you just keep the best players, Greg White is one of the best. He's an explosive man, he's got natural pass rush. I just think the more he plays and gets acclimated to the 11-man game and his overall conditioning, he's a threat. He's a threat to rush, he's a threat to play and we're really pleased with what he's shown."

On how hard it is to make a trade

"It's a lot easier landscape when you have salary cap space. You can afford to accept a contract if you're talking about a big fish out there. To get a good player in a trade you've got to give up something pretty good. That's just the way it goes. Again, I can't say that's something that's on the horizon, but I can't say that it's not."

On if keeping four quarterbacks handicaps him at other positions on the roster

"I don't know, I don't feel like I'm handicapped in any way. Again, we have four at this point in time and we'll re-evaluate our quarterback situation as we go. You have to admit that Luke McCown showed great promise in the preseason for a guy that's been totally gone for the last year-and-a-half. He showed tremendous promise. And [Bruce] Gradkowski, to not take a sack, to do as well as he did, he's a young guy with some promise. And Chris Simms is a young guy with promise. So we have three young guys that have some playing experience now, some talent, and we have a veteran guy that we're high on. We're not in any hurry to lose a guy that we deem is a pretty good prospect at that position."

On if Garcia is the kind of quarterback he's always wanted in Tampa

"Oh, I don't know about that. I've always wanted a good quarterback, a great quarterback who can dominate. I've been perfectly clear there. I think Jeff has had times in San Francisco, has been a Pro Bowl quarterback three times. He's been stellar, he's been clutch, he's been great at times. I saw him late in the season in Philadelphia in a tough situation, in New York and some tough places, clearly play great football. I just want to have a quarterback that is stellar, a guy that can help us win a championship. A guy like Garcia gives us that opportunity."

On what Garcia can do against Seattle's defense

"He's a great player, now. He can run around and create with his legs and his arm. You've seen a lot. He can make plays. That's something we're going to have to do. We're going to have to make five or six great plays in this game to win it. The quarterback position largely is going to be responsible for a lot of those."

On Jerramy Stevens

"He's a rare pass receiver. He's got rare pass-receiving ability. We went into the game wanting to feature him and he took full advantage of that. He was wide open on a couple other situations and we didn't see him. After the catch he's hard to bring down; he runs good routes; he's a huge target; an effortless-speed runner, he just runs effortlessly. He's a great athlete and I think the more and more he gets acclimated to our system and picks it up a little bit in some other areas he'll be a real good addition to us."

On Alex Smith's health

"He's okay; he returned today. I think Alex and I think Sears and I think Trueblood could have played last Thursday night, but because of their inactivity on the practice field we felt we'd like to keep them out."

On the battle for the second QB spot

"We're going to keep working with these guys. We're going to put a lot of pressure on these guys with what it takes to get ready to play. Gradkowski and McCown, and when Chris gets ready to roll, will all be evaluated daily. At some point in time, right before the game, we'll decide who the backup is."

On if it's tough to travel so far for the season opener

"I don't know. You can't deny that we have not played well on some of these coast-to- coast trips. It's been a long time, maybe since the Super Bowl, that we've gone on the West Coast and really been great in our play. We haven't played good in San Francisco, haven't played particularly well across country. Arizona was lackluster in my opinion. I'm not going to make any excuses. We have a first-class jet that we fly on, we stay in a five-star hotel and we eat well. We're going to be well-rested and well-prepared. Seattle's going to be a very difficult place to play but we've got to pick it up."

On Seattle's strengths

"They've got a great quarterback, they've got a great coach, they've got a heck of a running back and they've got the best left tackle in the league. They're going to be a good offensive team with a chance to be great if [Matt] Hasselbeck stays healthy and returns to the Pro Bowl status that he has. Defensively, they've added a lot of players in free agency – Julian Peterson, two new safeties now. I think [Marcus] Trufant's an excellent corner. They present a lot of problems. [Lofa] Tatupu's a Pro Bowl middle linebacker. So they've got the ingredients to be very, very tough."

On if he keeps in touch with Mike Holmgren

"A little bit. He's a guy that I've looked up to, and a lot of people feel that same way."

On if he'll talk to Holmgren this week

"No, I won't. I'll see him out there in Seattle. He'll be a friend for life but this week we've got to do the best we can to come up with an opening-day win."

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