Jon Gruden Transcript — Oct.22

Here is the complete transcript from Buccaneers head coach Jon Gruden's day-after press conference on Oct. 22, 2007, including injury updates and comments on Earnest Graham and Michael Bennett:

Opening comments

Real quick, an injury update. It's hard to be real official until I hear from the trainer, but Mark Jones injured his knee and he'll be out for the season. Michael Clayton is having an MRI on his ankle right now. We have a couple of other guys that we hope are coming around. I'll be happy to answer any questions.

Jon, I know you don't like the way that you lost, but are you encouraged by your play in some areas, especially on offense in terms of Earnest Graham?

There were some real good things. Earnest Graham was close to 100 yards rushing and 100 yards receiving in his second career start. (Jeff) Garcia, I don't know if he was 20-for-20 at halftime or close to it. It's hard to imagine him playing that much better. He did some real good things. Obviously losing Michael Clayton on the second play of the game didn't help. Hopefully we can get some of this supporting cast healthy and ready to go for the second half of the season. It's unfortunate that we weren't able t finish some drives and we had a couple of breakdowns on special teams, obviously, that hurt us. But there were some positive things to take away from this game — there always are. And there were some things that were hard to swallow.

Coach, with Mark being out and the status of Michael unknown right now, is there a thought of going out and finding a wide receiver on the waiver wire?

There sure is. Depth is an issue. We've already lost Paris Warren for the season. So our depth right now is stressed. We have a couple of guys that we'll look at, I'm sure. We'll update you when we know exactly what Michael Clayton's status is.

Coach talk about Detroit's 93-yard scoring drive late. Your defense wasn't on the field that much, so they didn't seem to be tired. What were the breakdowns there?

Well, on one of the plays we had an issue of containment. Kevin Jones got outside to set up a first down. They converted a third-and-short on a naked bootleg by inches. Calvin Johnson hurt us on a couple of plays. Our coverage was pretty good, but (Jon) Kitna made a good throw and he made a nice catch. Calvin, of course, came around on that 34-yard run. We didn't have the best contain, but Calvin made two or three guys miss in the process. But I can't fault anyone's effort. I can't say we didn't have any dramatic breakdowns, but the Lions orchestrated a pretty good drive. I give them credit.

Coach, can you update Brian Kelly's status? Is this injury becoming one that might linger with him all season?

We saw him earlier this morning. He feels like he's getting better. But his status for this game is still very questionable. Alex Smith is the same way. Patrick Chukwurah, Michael Pittman, we do have some other guys that are closing in on returning. But I can't say that I feel good about when they will return or their status until I see them running around on the practice field.

Coach, your assessment of the offensive line. It didn't seem to be one of their better days yesterday?

All in all, there were some good plays. The sacks, obviously, put a tainted picture on what I thought was a pretty good effort. We had three 14, 15, 16-play drives. We had a couple of penalties that were very disappointing. We had a false start, a roughing penalty and a holding call in the first half. We don't get two of those penalties and we score. Along with the penalties, we had a couple of issues in pass protection but I can't just fault the offensive line. We're in this together and we could have gotten them some help in certain situations.

Coach, obviously as the head coach you have to keep pressing forward in spite of the injuries. But is there a certain frustration level with the number of injuries on this team right now?

It's frustrating. It's not baseball. You can't make a trade and just put a guy in your lineup and say, ‘Hey, go play right field and hit fourth." No disrespect to baseball, but you have to know the formations, the snap count, the audible system, the two-minute package, all of the things you learned in training camp, OTAs and things of that nature. You know when you lose three running backs, and now three receivers and a left tackle and a tight end, a corner and a defensive end, and a guy like Sabby Piscitelli who's been out for some time, they do add up. We will be tested certainly this week with the Jaguars, who are an outstanding football team and you'll see that tonight.

Jon, the first series of the third quarter you were at the Lions 50 and they were trying to substitute and it appeared that Maurice Stovall was uncovered wide left. Was that a missed opportunity?

Maybe so, maybe so. It was good to get Mo on the field. There were some substitution issues. Sometimes we see those opportunities, sometimes we don't. Jeff Garcia saw a lot of those opportunities yesterday, and we capitalized on some and some we didn't.

Did you have a quick call set up?

Yeah, we have a lot of things set up for that, I guess.

Going back to Mark Jones just for a second, what is the extent of the damage to his knee?

We believe it's his patellar tendon, a similar injury to what Carnell (Williams) suffered. When we get the final word from Todd (Torsicelli), we'll let you know. It's a blow. He was one of the top return specialists in the NFL, honestly. You can see where he ranks statistically, and someone will have to pick up the slack on punt returns and kickoff returns.

Will that be a rotation?

It could be that. We do have a couple of other candidates that we will consider. I do know this. When we do get somebody back there they'll have to continue to do the things that Mark Jones did for us, because he's a big loss.

Now that we're close to midseason, coach, how would you assess where this team is right now?

We like our team. We're disappointed in the outcome of the game yesterday. But four of our first seven games have been played on the road. We would have liked to have won that ball game yesterday. We're right in the thick of this thing. We have to roll up our fist and fight for this thing right now. We're like a lot of people sitting at home today. It ain't easy. Life ain't easy. We have to overcome some dramatic losses to our football team and we're confident that we can do that. We've lost some great players, but we've seen the emergence of players like Earnest Graham, who are proving they can play in the NFL and now they have to continue to prove it.

Coach, what did you think of Michael Bennett yesterday, despite the limited times you saw him?

We liked him. He got into a situation on short notice. I'm not sure that he even knows most of his coaches or teammates by name or number yet. But he got a few carries, and he was in on a couple of play-action passes. I think he played six plays yesterday. He's the kind of guy that has kickoff return abilities. He's meeting with our coaching staff right now, trying to learn and get caught up in terms of our offense. We'd like to expand his role. Clearly he's a guy with some speed. He's a good guy, a good learner and hopefully we can get him out there more.

The guy says he runs 9.89 in the 100. How does he compare with Joey Galloway?

Oh, I don't know. I don't want to make anybody mad. They're both very fast. I think they've proven that in their careers.

You look at a situation like that and just hope you can find a crack for him?

Yeah, we would like to teach him our system and get him some opportunities to showcase his abilities, and certainly his speed.

How did Gaines Adams come out of Sunday's game? He went into it with a chest injury?

I thought he came out healthy. He wasn't 100 percent. But I don't know how many guys are 100 percent at this point in the season on any team. Some of the coaches even look a little haggard. It's a long season. I thought Gaines came out of the game OK. We need to get him going in the second half of the season. Hopefully his chest is feeling much better today.


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