Press Pass: Alex Smith

In this edition of "Press Pass," Buccaneers tight end Alex Smith talks about blocking Carolina defensive end Julius Peppers, the progress of the Buccaneers and why he likes playing in Bank of America Stadium in this premium feature.

On the importance of this week's game

Yes – just the fact that they're in our division is going to mean that much more animosity between the two teams. We see them twice a year and the fact that they came out on top, nobody's really happy about that. We're just looking forward to correcting the wrongs. Everything that's in the past we can't do anything about. But this year we're trying to get back on top of the NFC South.

On if beating Carolina will bring legitimacy to the Buccaneers this year

It will put us right on top of the NFC South, and that's one of our goals going into this season. That's where we want to be. I don' know if we're too worried about how we look in other people's eyes, but we know where we want to be as a team and that will put us right on top.

On what pops into his head when he hears "Carolina Panthers"

They're known for their defense, so I always think it's going to be a long game, a big 60-minute fight. You just know you've got to bring you're a-game.

On if he likes playing there

I do. It brings out the best in everybody. You have to bring your best because they're coming with it, so I look forward to it.

On QB Jeff Garcia being 3-0 in his last three starts against Carolina

We're a new team. Anything that's happened in the past we don't really put much credence into. We have a new quarterback, new system, a whole bunch of new players with Cato June, Arron Sears. That's what coach (Gruden) said today – ‘That's why we brought you guys in here, especially for the Carolina Panthers.' So we're looking forward to it.

On the confidence in the locker room

Guys are just trying to keep working. We see we have a very special team here, and we feel like we should be 3-0 right now. We let one get away. That's what happens when you don't execute the way you're supposed to. So we're just trying to make sure we continue on that path."

On trying to limit the effectiveness of DE Julius Peppers

You just try to get into him as fast as you can. You don't want to give him a head start and let him get going. We want to get started with him in the first quarter. If he gets any momentum going, it could be a long game for you. So just try to stop his momentum and try not to let him have any big plays.

On how important it is to get him contained early so the tight ends can be a part of the passing game and not be forced to stay in and block

He can be a disruptive force. That could change the team's whole game plan if he is on fire. Getting him stopped early, running the ball towards his way and getting him with good pass protection situations – I think that will be effective for us.

On how the demeanor of the team has changed from Week One to Week Three

We kind of took things for granted Week One. We knew we had talent on the team, but not executing at time, turning the ball over and penalties – we see we can't let those things happen in a game. Now I think these last two games you've seen a more focused team, a team that realized you have to put it on the field for 60 minutes and not let any mishaps happen. That helped us – that Week One – getting that out of the way, and now we see what we can't do."

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