Did you get a chance to watch the (Tampa Bay) game yesterday? What were your thoughts?
“I watched some of the game yesterday. They’re an active fly-around group and they present a lot of different looks. It’s going to be a challenge for us on the road. Last time we were on the road, we didn’t play very well so it’s going to be a big week for us.”
Is there a reason that east coast games seem to be more difficult?
“I think that we do a good job of practicing early on Thursdays and Fridays then leaving on Friday to get adjusted the best that we can. We just have to get up and go. Obviously you’re not usually playing a game at 10 a.m. I thought that they had kind of done away with that. But they’re back this year. When the ball gets kicked off I don’t think that anyone cares about what time it is. I don’t think that any of the guys have a problem with it.”
Do you think that you’ll see a big passing game?
“Well they (Tampa Bay) have given up some yards. This week they had a big lead so then Oakland threw it 60 times. When you throw 60 times you hope that you’re going to get some big yards. It’s still a good defense. I think they created some negative plays. They have given up some big plays but it’s an active group and a group that we’re not too familiar with. We played them there in ’08 and I’m not sure how many guys from that defense are still there. It’s a different group. (Ronde) Barber is there and he’s in a different position, but he’s still a super impressive player. It’s a young team and they’re flying around all over the place. We’re going to have to play well to win.”
On running back Doug Martin:
“He’s been awesome. Yesterday he made some huge runs and had about 250 yards rushing. He’s certainly an impressive runner.”
Does the long stretch without practice help or hurt the team?
“I think it will be positive. We also played two games in five days. You get home after that Thursday night game and you’ve played two games in a very short period of time so you’re really still recovering from Sunday’s game when you play on Thursday. It was some much-needed rest. Today we were able to run, condition and lift. We could have gone out and practiced today but without a full game-plan, other than just getting going again, I don’t know how much of a head start it would have been. We got a ton of mental work done in here and have a head start on watching tape. I’m sure guys watched it over the weekend. I think we’re on track and we’ll be fresh and ready to start the second half of the season.”
How deep are you now into the tape of Tampa Bay?
“Pretty deep. I have a pretty good feel for them and it will grow throughout the week. Playing Kansas City in a short week, it wasn’t a challenge from a preparation standpoint because we know who they are and what they do. With this team, a few extra days are nice because we don’t play them very often and there’s not a lot familiarity with the personnel. I don’t know that I can put a time frame on it, but the preparation is full through the week. Even when we get to Friday we’re still studying guys because ultimately, we’re going to know the scheme really well and the players, who you’re playing against and what they do.”
What are your thoughts on facing off against former teammate, wide receiver Vincent Jackson?
“I’m not going to have to cover him or go against him. It will certainly be different seeing him in person in a different uniform.”
On having the chance to take a look at the Buccaneer’s offense:
“Yeah, they’re good. They’re playing well right now. They are running the ball well. Their passing game, they are averaging about 37 points over the last three or four games. It is going to be a tough match. We’re going against our old buddy, Vince [Vincent Jackson]. It’s a great time, good vs. good. We’re both 4-4 so it’s a huge game. We have to win to stay in the race. They obviously do as well. They present some challenges but so do we so we’re excited.”
On going against Buccaneer’s receiver Vincent Jackson in a game after facing him in practice for so many years:
“It will be different. The corners are going to know a little better than me because they’ve been going against him every day for the last six or seven years. I’m just going to play my game, play aggressive, hopefully make a lot of plays and get a win.”
On Buccaneer’s running back Doug Martin:
“He’s explosive, strong and very balanced. He can catch the ball in the back field. He can make you miss but you just have to wrap him up. We need 11 guys on the ball, especially this week because he is really playing well. They are making holes for him and he has that burst you see from really good backs. We have one of the best run defenses in the league and we play together. It will be a good test for us because they are playing really well on offense.”
On facing the Buccaneer’s offense:
“It all starts up front with our defensive line and the outside linebackers holding the edge. Letting our inside guys run and when we do get a safety in the box, letting us be free and make tackles. If they play well we’ll be successful in the run game. If not, it will be a long day. We’ve shown through eight games that teams have trouble running against us. We expect to be smart and anticipate what is coming. They’re a two back team, 21 (formation), which is a tight end and two backs. Downhill they’re going to run what they run and we just have to be physical. We need to attack the points, set the edge and tackle, tackle, tackle. ”
On whether he’s seen another rookie learn as fast as Doug Martin:
“Adrian Peterson probably. I didn’t play much my rookie year when they played against us. But that was a long time ago. Hopefully that won’t happen again. He’s one of the better backs right now. You have to give him credit. Hopefully we can slow him down as much as possible.”
On the other big Buccaneer’s receivers:
“They go up and get the ball. They’re not burners like other receivers in the league. They run crisp routes and they are very physical. They go up and get the ball. They don’t body-catch it; they catch it with their hands so you always respect that. They are play makers so we are going to have our hands full. We need to go out and play at a high level, eliminate the big plays and try to keep them to a minimum in the run game.”
On Buccaneer’s quarterback Josh Freeman improving from last year:
“It starts up front. Being able to be in tight coverage. When we bring pressure and four-man rushes, guys need to win their one-on-one battles. They know that and we have to have tight coverage. It works hand-in-hand. When we bring pressure the ball is going to come out quick and we need to be able to anticipate those things. Just playing together. Freeman is playing at a high level and making some unbelievable throws. We just need to try and make it difficult for him. We need to get around him as much as possible and get his timing off. We’re excited to get back on the field and get to work.”
On having 10 days to prepare instead of four:
“Always does [make a huge difference.] It shouldn’t be any surprises when we’re out there on the field. Sunday, just go out and fly around, be confident. We have tons of time to look at the film and really hone in on what we need to do. We need to take advantage of it.”