Coachspeak: Gruden on Thursday

Here is the complete transcript from Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Jon Gruden's press conference on Thursday, including an injury report leading up to the Kansas City game and comments on WR Michael Clayton and RB Carnell Williams.

On if there was anything new regarding injuries

No. Warrick [Dunn] did not practice. Arron Sears got knocked in the head yesterday. We think he'll be okay but we kept him out today. Jermaine Phillips obviously didn't practice. We've got a number of guys that are somewhat limited, but we'll just do the best we can and put our heads together here tomorrow afternoon, figure out who's up.

On if Carnell Williams did more

Yeah, actually we had a 12-play simulation of the Chiefs. We did the best we could and Carnell took, I think, 10 or 11 straight plays. It's exciting, you know? It's exciting to see him out there, and not only see him out there but the progress. He really looked good today. Next week during the bye week we'll put the pads on and we'll try to make it a little more tough. But step two went well today.

On if Williams ran with the scout squad

Yes, he did. He's trying to simulate Larry Johnson and Kolby Smith and their backs, and he looked pretty good today.

On if he's concerned about Warrick Dunn

The thing with him is he's such a game-day guy. He's played so long, he knows himself very well. He's got a lot to prove to himself more than anyone. It's just right now, we don't think he's physically ready to go. We'll see where he is tomorrow.

On if Michael Bennett might get some playing time in Dunn's place

Yes, that is possible.

On running game struggles

The running game actually, statistically-speaking, wasn't great in Seattle, but when you take the ball and put together a 10-minute drive and run the ball 12 times with a lead in pro football, that's almost unprecedented. It doesn't happen. So the running game wasn't bad in the Seattle game. It wasn't what we want but it was pretty good in some critical situations.

On previously having a two-halfback rhythm with Dunn and Earnest Graham

Well we had two halfbacks and two fullbacks. We had [Byron] Storer and [B.J.] Askew; we had two fullbacks going earlier in the year, and we had two halfbacks. We had fresh, good players and we had a neat little rotation going. Obviously, with Warrick's injury lingering and two fullbacks out. It's something we've got to all clean up. We've got to fight through this, we've got to do some things better, and that we will.

On if the Bucs went to a lot of one-back sets

We tried to get in three and four-receiver sets but a lot of our receivers have been idle also -- Maurice Stovall, Joey Galloway, Mike Clayton missed yesterday's practice. That's just the way it is.

On if it's even more important to run the ball in the red zone

That's every red zone tape we look at. I think our first-down carries last week, we lost yards twice. And we got stopped on third down on one. And we do have a pretty good quarterback here and we're going to try to accentuate anything we've got to do to win a football game. If we've got to throw it every snap we will.

On Michael Clayton

I tell you what, you talk about running the ball, he's got as much to do with us running the ball as anyone. He is a heck of a football player, physical. He made an unbelievable catch last week away from his body in the red zone. If we give him a little better opportunity to run with it afterwards, that might be a score. So there are some good things that Mike's doing. With Galloway coming back, we'll just have to do the best we can to try to utilize all the guys. I really appreciate their being unselfish and supportive of one another. Earnest Graham and Warrick Dunn have done that, shared the ball. Our receivers have done that, and it's a credit to the guys. I think they all realize right now with some of the injuries right now we're going to need everybody to step their game up.

On if B.J. Askew is closer to playing

I don't know. This has been real frustrating; this will be six weeks now. It was a serious injury he suffered in the Chicago game, and hamstring's are tough, man. The hard tears, they don't heal as quickly as you'd like them to. You're talking about a 233-pound guy. He is making progress, he is practicing, but he is somewhat limited at this point. So his status for the game is very questionable.

On if Clifton Smith has earned a longer opportunity

He did some really good things. Short-area quickness; he caught the ball; decisive. We've got to take care of the ball. Got to take care of the ball -- I don't want to say it any more than that.

On Smith fielding punts and charging immediately forward

I like that. When you go forward there's everybody coming at you. It's not a job that everybody is after. There aren't a lot of guys that want to return kickoffs and punts in the National Football League. You stand down there on the sidelines, and I stand behind players. It's a bizarre scene. These guys are flying down there. It's not for everybody. It takes experience and you've got to acquire the experience. Some of the great returners struggle their first and second years in the history of this league. So we're going to stay with Dexter, keep working with him, but we do like the decisiveness that Clifton showed and we think he has promise.

On how Jeff Garcia played down the stretch in Dallas

It's easy to be critical in defeat but he had almost a career day against Seattle. He was I think 15 or 16 out of 20 against Carolina in a huge game. He made some nice plays in Dallas. I didn't do a very good job and we didn't play well enough as a team. We've all got to throw our hat in there and assume some responsibility but I've got a lot of confidence in Jeff. Hopefully we can all get clicking again.


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