Jon Gruden Transcript — Sept. 21

Here is the transcript from Buccaneers head coach Jon Gruden's post-practice press conference on Friday, Sept. 21:

on injured players

I don't have any update. We have three guys who are questionable – [Ike] Hilliard, [Brian] Kelly and [Patrick] Chukwurah. Hilliard did not practice."

on how Hilliard hurt his ankle

He just sprained his ankle on the practice field. We're hoping he'll be ready to go but right now we'll have to say he's questionable.

on if Michael Clayton would start if Hilliard was out

[Maurice] Stovall or Clayton. We'll run a lot of guys. We'll play somebody. We'll put an extra tight end in there. We'll play with 11.

on the new defense wanting an identity

They've got to earn that. Identity is formed over years, not just one week. I believe that we've got to earn what we deserve. Forget about being the best defense of all time; I've heard that thrown around here. I just want to win a football game and I want to be a better defense than we were last week. If we can do that and we can do it consistently over a period of time, people will recognize us again. Until then, we've got a long way to go.

on if he's hoping it will be steaming hot for the Rams on Sunday

I've never really rooted for ‘steaming hot.' I don't really believe the weather's going to determine the outcome of the game. If you're mentally weak it will affect you; if you're mentally tough, it won't. I think in the NFL, these guys are all mentally tough. I'd like it to be as comfortable as possible, personally, for all the fans and all the people that attend the ballgame.

on why Steven Jackson is off to a slow start

Well, they've lost some players in their line. I'm not being disrespectful to them – when you have new components in there it's a different deal. They had that guy over there, Orlando Pace, who is as good as there is in the world. Right now he's not playing. No matter what you say, change at left tackle, change in the offensive line – I could write a book about that – it's not easy. And Carolina, to be honest with you, is not a team that you really want to make a living saying you're going to run the ball repeatedly at them. They're a hard team to run against. And in case nobody's noticed, the 49ers' scheme and defensive personnel is a hell of a lot different than it's been in some time. They're a tough team. They've had two tough games to open up with and they've had some change at some key positions, but Jackson is just inches away from breaking a couple runs. You can see that on tape.

on the Bucs' pass rush

We haven't had a pass rush here that's rivaled one of the top pass rushes in the league for the last few years. We've had some individual guys do well, but our pass rush has got to improve dramatically for us to be a great defensive team. It's easier said than done, so we'll see what happens. The Rams are a team that likes to throw it. They mix in Steven Jackson and that's a tough combination."

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