Jon Gruden Transcript — Oct. 31

Here is the complete post-practice press conference of Buccaneers head coach Jon Gruden for Wednesday, Oct. 31, 2007:

On injured players

Greg Spires did not participate today. Quincy Black, Patrick Chukwurah, Michael Clayton, Brian Kelly, Michael Pittman and Alex Smith were limited.

On which of the injured players he's optimistic about getting back this week

All those guys. I'm an optimist. It's been awhile since I've seen some of them. We have six or seven other guys who are still really sore from the game, so tomorrow will be a better gauge, I think, than today was. But I'm encouraged because I saw some of them out here today. It's been awhile since I've seen them out here on the field. I'll be optimistic that we'll have somebody that we didn't have last week.

On if the recovery of the players will help determine what the team will do with its one open roster spot

Yeah. I'm pretty tired, really, of talking about the injuries. These guys, when they're ready to roll, they'll roll. When they're ready to play, they'll play. But in the time being, we'll do the best we can to continue to treat them and get them well and go with the guys that can play.

On WR Chas Gessner returning

We've lost a number of receivers. What we did with him being here is certainly look at special teams. He's a guy that can play on more than just one phase. He can play three or four different phases and get on the field 18-20 snaps. We need that right now. That's a big reason he's back.

On if there is a chance Gessner will play on offense

Yeah, there's a chance. Once again, he's been gone for a couple months. Based on how the game goes, we'll see.

On what interest he would have in WR Mike Williams, cut Tuesday by the Raiders

I don't really have any comment right now. I have interest in the guys in our building. I'll let the personnel people answer that. I have an interest right now in getting Chas up to speed and getting some of these guys that haven't played back.

On how Kurt Warner is looking

When he plays, he plays good. He's still got one of the quicker releases in the league. You can see why he's a former MVP. They've surrounded him with Pro Bowl players – [Larry] Fitzgerald, [Anquan] Boldin and Edgerrin James. Those are good players. Kurt looks good and he's had a week to get well with the elbow. When he's one, he's really on. He's a great competitor and he still has it, I know that.

On how Darnell Dockett is playing

Great. He's got six sacks already, he's got numerous pressures and tackles for losses. He's a key part of their defense. They do an excellent job with their pressure package. They'll be in a three-down line one snap and the next play they'll be in a four-down line. We've seven seen them in a five-down line situation. Dockett is the guy at the end of the day that's special. They're all playing hard and they have some good players.

On what Jerramy Stevens has shown in Alex Smith's absence

He's showing a lot. On Jeff [Garcia]'s long touchdown pass to [Joey] Galloway he made a great block and sustained it at the point of attack, allowed Jeff time to throw it. He's improving in those areas, and as a pass receiver you do see a guy that can catch the ball away from his body and has speed to stretch it. We're really excited about the progress he's made.

On Jeff Garcia coming out to practice with a Halloween wig on

Yeah. It's Halloween night here in Tampa and there will be a lot of kids knocking on doors. Just make sure you go home and get your treats – you might even see Garcia banging on your door.

On if the Arizona game will determine which direction the team is headed

Oh, I don't know about all that. I think definitely you need to win in this league to stay alive. Right now, we're alive in the NFC South. We want to position ourselves to win it, and to do that you've got to win football games.

On how the Bucs' bye week works out for the younger and older players

That's a hard question to answer. Everybody's in different stages in their careers; everybody's at a different level of health. We do have a lot of young guys who are playing critical roles on our football team right now. That's just something we've all got to fight through – coaches, players, trainers – and that's something I'm proud of about our football team. We have done a pretty good job of doing that. Some young guys have really stepped up and played well. Unfortunately, we lost a couple more last Sunday and some others will be given that chance this Sunday.

On the importance of stopping the Cardinals' running game

Well, if you've watched them play, they're five-wide, open formation – they don't have a back in the backfield a lot of the time. So you'd better be ready, certainly, for them to pound The Edge [Edgerrin James] in there, but you also better be ready for spread formations, no-back shotgun formations because they do have some really good skill players and a guy that can throw it. That's something, too, that you've got to concern yourself with.

On if Stevens' recent production is a product of learning the playbook

Yeah, and his opportunity to play. Obviously, Alex has been hurt and Anthony [Becht] has had a little bit of a back issue. So Jerramy's taking advantage of his opportunity. He's doing exactly what we expected him to do. He's gotten better and hopefully you'll see a lot more of that in the second half of the season.

On if trick-or-treaters dressed as Kurt Warner would get turned away at the Gruden house

All the kids that come by are going to get something. I made sure of that. We might razz them a little bit but we'll give them a treat.

On who will return kickoffs

That's another good question. We've lost a lot of those guys. David Boston was a guy we were looking at; Mike Pittman's a guy; Mark Jones and now Torrie Cox. I've never gone five-deep at that position by Week Eight of the season. It will be...we'll have somebody back there.

On Phillip Buchanon being able to return kickoffs

Yeah, but we hate the thought of having Phillip back there. Not a lot of teams put their starting corner back there to return the opening kickoff. We also injuries at that position. We'll go in there and see what Todd Toriscelli has to say and we'll adjust from there.

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