David, what have you been told about this Sunday? Are you practicing as if you're going to play on Sunday?
That's how I go into every week. But today I took most of the reps because they're trying to get Jake (Delhomme) ready physically. I probably know about as much as you guys, to tell you the truth. I just go out and practice as if I'm going to play on Sunday and if I start, I start. It's just day-to-day. We'll see what happens.
If you're out there on Sunday, do you feel like they'll scale down the game plan at all?
I hope not. I've been here since mini-camp, and I may not have played with these guys as much as Jake, but I feel like I have a good understanding of the offense. We have a new offensive coordinator (Jeff Davidson), so either one of us can't feel as if we know everything. We have to go out and make some plays. I hope they don't scale it back because I have a pretty good feel for what they have going on right now.
Did you have chances to go other places, Dave? Why did you think Carolina was a good fit?
The one time we (Houston) played out there, they were a good football team. The defense was phenomenal. I felt like there was something to build on, and when I went out there I wanted to be a part of winning. Of all the teams that I was looking at, they were the team that I felt was the most fortified to be in playoff contention, year in and year out. So that's really what I wanted to be a part of. The offensive line was solid, they were healthy and one of the best in the NFL. So it was a no-brainer for me.
Dave, when you look at the Bucs on tape, what are your impressions?
They're extremely fast. They're well-coached. I've known Monte Kiffin (Bucs defensive coordinator) for a long time. He came down and installed their defense in Fresno (State) because some of the guys out there were good friends with Monte. So they ran the same defense (the Bucs do) when I was in college. He does a great job. I think he's the best defensive coordinator in the NFL. I think he could be a head coach, that's how good (he is). They're definitely well-coached. Derrick Brooks, all of those guys, I've played against them many times and they're phenomenal football players. So we have to know where they're are at all times and have a good understanding of what they do and what you want to do. You can be all right. You just have to have complete respect for what they're doing because they do it well."
As a first-round pick that went to an expansion team how has the change of scenery helped revitalize you?
I feel great. This has been one of the best times of my life and football career. (Quarterbacks) coach (Matt) McCoy is a great coach. This group, Davidson and Foxie (head coach John Fox) and all these guys, they're very receptive. We have fun but we've worked hard. As far as getting back to playing, (I'm) completing passes and making plays and not trying to outthink myself, not trying to do anything different with my mechanics. I've thrown the ball the same way since I was 2 years old. They haven't tried to tweak that at all. It's been refreshing, actually. One of the nicest things about this (situation is they) haven't tried to change me, they've just tried to mold me into their system and let's go. So it's been good.
It's inevitable, but do you think you took more than your fair share of heat for what happened down there in Houston?
You can look at it that way, but at the same time, we didn't win. So at the end of the day things have to change. When that happens, if you're not winning over a period of time, it doesn't matter whose fault it is. You might think you do all you can and it's not enough, where if you're in another situation it might be enough. At that point in my career it didn't look like it was going to work anymore. They did what they had to do and we've both gone our separate ways and I think it will be all right in the end.
Dave, you've seen Steve Smith as an opponent. Talk about him as a teammate and what makes him so special?
He cares, more than anything. He cares about what's going on at practice. He cares about the mindset, he cares about everything in the game. That's the biggest thing aside from his talent and his unbelievable athletic ability. The guy actually really wants to win games and you can't coach that, and that's been nice.
Dave I'm looking around the league and I don't see too many good backup quarterbacks and I think Carolina looks like it's in good shape with you and Jake. Do you think you give Carolina an edge?
I know see any reason why it shouldn't (be an edge). If you look at the league, even when I was looking for a different situation, I was looking at the numbers and how many games each quarterback started last year, and aside from Peyton (Manning) and Brett (Favre), there's not a lot of guys that do that (start 16 games) every year. There are injuries that happen in this league (because) the game is so violent. If you have guys that can step in and play like the guy that was in there before (you), then you have a pretty good team. You don't have to worry about it if you're the head coach.
David, do you understand how they figure the quarterback rating?
I have no idea (laughter). I just know that you're supposed to throw touchdowns and not throw interceptions. Other than that, that quarterback rating is a mystery to me.
What's the best way to judge a quarterback, then?
You know, that (quarterback rating) might be the best (way), given all the facts and knowing what goes into it. For me, yards per attempt, completion percentage — those are both important. But touchdown passes, interceptions — that's probably as far as you need to go. That may be all that goes into it to tell you the truth, but I have no idea how it works.