Press Pass: Around the locker room

This week in "Press Pass," we go around the Buccaneers locker room to get the thoughts of players like Gaines Adams, Derrick Brooks, Joey Galloway and Jeff Garcia entering Sunday's game against Atlanta:


On the chance to wrap up the division

We can't look at it like that, we just have to come out and prepare hard. Atlanta is going to come down and come into our stadium and they are going to be very motivated and play hard. We just have to focus this week in practice and do what we need to do to be successful.

On bouncing back from last week

Last week was unacceptable to us. We just have to come back this week, work hard in practice and correct those mistakes that we had last week.

On going undefeated in the division

We have a lot of pride, as a defense and as a team. We want to be successful and that is the bottom line.


On whether playing each week is actually making his ankle injury worse

I'm not sure about that. I don't think I'm making it worse. The pain is there. It's almost identical every week. It's just something that I'm going to have to keep fighting.

On whether he's looking at Michael Pittman's injury situation as well as his own

No, not at all. Everybody heals differently. I wouldn't go out there and expect to get hurt just like he wouldn't expect it. It's just something that happens. This is football. You can't really play scared. You can't expect that something is going to happen. You just suck it up. If it happens, it happens, and if not, you just keep on rolling.


On the media not talking about the Buccaneers as NFC contenders

If we take care of our own business, we will get the attention we deserve when the time is right. Right now, all we have to do is win our games, and, like I said, when the time is right for us to get that type of attention we will get it. We haven't even made the playoffs so there is nothing to talk about the Bucs right now. Once we get in, hopefully after Sunday, then the conversation sparks that. To me, it doesn't matter, that attention will come when we get into the position to have the attention come our way.

On what needs to be done to fine tune the defense

First thing we have to do is play better on third down. That is a key stat right now, where the last three weeks were we have not played championship football. We have to keep the other things going, in terms of getting turnovers, creating trouble in the pocket for the quarterback, and first and foremost is always stop the run. Don't let a team get their running game going to get their offense established.


On translating from the practice field to games on Sunday

One of the toughest things as a receiver is to stay into it. On game day, the ball is coming a little bit faster. You have to make some catches when you're getting hit. You don't see that a lot, and as a receiver, there's really no way to practice that. You just have to physically and mentally go through every catch that you may catch in a game, and just get ready for contact. If you can stay on top of that, you're pretty polished going into Sunday.

On getting in on a few plays last week and what the difference was

You never know. You always just have to be ready. I had no idea that I was going into the game starting, so I think Coach Gruden does that to keep everybody alert and ready to play. You have to prepare like you're going to be out there every play. Even if you're on the practice squad, you never know what's going to happen. He does a great job with that, and we executed some plays. Unfortunately, we didn't come up with a win, but we had some great looks out there. We just didn't execute.

On if he expects to start again this week

You don't know. You just prepare like you're going to be a starter, and that's just how we've done it the past few years. You never know what's going to happen. I think every receiver on our corps has the ability to be a starter. We need a splash player, we're going to need everybody. You never know, so you just prepare like you're going to start, and when the opportunity comes, you get in there and do your thing.


On having Jeff Garcia back

We're looking forward to having him back. He's been a leader. He's been the guy. He's gotten us to where we are now. We're expecting to have him back, we'll get back on track, win these last few and get ready for the playoffs.

On when he got the feeling that this was going to be a playoff team and could go to that next level

You start adding guys in the offseason, [and] the caliber of guys that we added, we felt pretty talented before those guys got here. If we could come together and work hard and play well, which we've done at times this season, we knew that we could go there, depending upon if we could put it together.

On how rare chances to win divisions are and if they hold extra meaning as he moves through his career

I think the longer you're around, the more you appreciate how hard it is to do it. I haven't done it very often in my 13 years, so we're excited about the opportunity, but yet we still have some work to do. But we're excited about that.

On if there's a sense of urgency to wrap the division title up on Sunday

It's always urgency, especially because we only play 16 games. In our league, there's always a sense of urgency from Week One through your 16th game. We'd of loved to have gotten it done last week, so we want to get it done this week.

Would being named to the Pro Bowl mean anything to him?

Not as much as a Super Bowl. Playoffs are more important. That other stuff is stuff I can't control and I'm not going to worry about. It is recognition, [but] if I wanted recognition, I would probably talk more about myself. It doesn't matter a whole lot.

On if it means anything to him to go for 1,000 yards in three straight years

This year it would mean that I helped the team get to the playoffs. Two years ago it meant that and last year we didn't get there. Winning games is really what matters.

On if he could imagine his coach just up and leaving like Petrino did

I would kill him.

On Ike Hilliard and his ability to play through injuries

[It's] very impressive, what he's been able to do at his age. He takes hits. He comes in here on Monday walking like an old man, but somehow he keeps going and he shows up on Sunday and plays well.


On if he is ready to go

I don't feel any discomfort, I don't feel any pain. I feel like everything is back to normal.

On the importance of this game

We need to take advantage of this opportunity playing at home, having a chance to clinch the division against a team that is going through some issues themselves, but that doesn't take away from the fact that they're going to come out here ready to play and they would like to do nothing more than have the chance to keep that division title away from us. So it's real important that we just focus on what we have to do this week as far our own task at hand and that is finding a way to execute at a high level, finding a way to get everybody on the same page so that we can start to build on some positive things. It starts this Sunday with what we want to do as far as clinching a division and taking it in the next week and building on that.

On coming back from injury

I think just getting back to the speed of the game, adjusting to the speed of the game. The concepts I've run for years, so those are very natural for me. This is a team that shows different looks so recognition is going to be a key. I'm going to have to watch a lot of film, be on top of that and just be ready to read and react at a high level, at a fast pace and that has to happen out here at practices.


On if the Bucs are getting a lack of respect in the playoff discussion and if that leads to a chip on the shoulder

No, not really. We've just got to play one game at a time and take care of business first. We've got to first get to the playoffs and then let our play from there do the talking. But we're not too much worried about that. We're worried about what's happening here at One Buc right now.


On the chance of winning the NFC South

It is a division rival and all the cards are on the table right now. We have to go out there and win the game and bring the South title home to Tampa. Atlanta is going to be fired up, they are going to be playing for a new coach and justifiably so. We are going to have to come out on Sunday, play physical and play Buc ball.

On the Falcons offense

I still see Warrick Dunn being the man in Atlanta. Jerious Norwood, the other tailback, is running the ball exceptionally well. We are going to have to get focus to stop the run, especially against those two backs. Whoever plays; Joey Harrington, Chris Redman, or Byron Leftwich, we are going to have to be prepared for all three of them. We have to have a lot of good detailed focus this week on whoever we play.


On if it's more important to protect the quarterback this week with Jeff Garcia coming off an injury

You always want to protect the quarterback. You don't want him taking clean shots or things of that sort, so of course we have to protect the quarterback.

On if the team cares that it can clinch the division with a win rather than getting it Monday through a New Orleans loss

Nothing is going to ever be handed to you. You have to take everything you want in life. We have an opportunity this Sunday and we look forward to taking advantage of it.


On the stretch to the playoffs

This time of year is the time where you want to play your best football. You want to play very well towards the end of the year, and then coming January and playoffs you want to pick it up even more.

On not being talked about as contenders

It is not important, we are playing very good, and playing consistently well all year. Now it is up to us to take care of the Bucs, go out and make sure we are staying on the details, and not having any excuses when the time comes. We have to go out and play well in the playoffs and get wins week by week because that is all that matters.


On Jeff Garcia

He knows how to win. He's a fighter. He's been through every situation in a game you can think of, and he knows how to react to those situations.

On the presence Garcia has about him

Jeff's a real fiery guy. A lot of quarterbacks around the league that have been around a long time are a little more laid back, maybe, and Jeff's real fiery. A lot of guys on this team, most of this team, all of this team, has responded real well to that. It's something that we needed, somebody to give us a spark, and Jeff's done that.

On how much it has helped him just watching Garcia

The way he plays is so contagious. You see how he handles the field, how he handles situations in the game, whether it be avoiding pressure, or getting the ball out of his hand, or protecting the football when things are breaking down around him. That's certainly helped me a ton just to watch him do that.

On how much getting to play the last few weeks has helped him

[There's] no substitute for experience. Any time you get to play, you go out and put your best foot forward, do your very best to help your team win, and the experience that you gain from that – the good, bad and indifferent throughout the game – is what's going to carry you on in further playing time. That's what you're going to lean on.


On how crucial it is for the Bucs' to clinch this week

It's very crucial. We'll be ready to go. We're excited and we want to get back in that playoff mode.

On if the team can bounce back from a loss

Definitely. Every week since Week One is a big game. We treat it as such.

On being part of adding to the team's legacy

Definitely. Just to be mentioned with guys like Derrick Brooks and Ronde [Barber] and all those guys is an honor.

On being on the verge of a 10-sack season

I've just got to keep working hard. Working hard – that's all I can do.

On how dangerous the Bucs can be in the playoffs

I haven't thought about it. This is the Atlanta week and Jon [Gruden] does a good job of keeping us focused on that. We're not worrying about who we'll play in the playoffs. We're worrying about Atlanta, and then we'll go from there.

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