Bucs Central

Thursday Quotes: Raheem Morris


(On injuries)
“Antonio Bryant is still day-to-day. He actually ran some routes yesterday in the middle of practice and he’s probably going to be ready to go. He should be ready to go tomorrow, but don’t hold me to that. Let him get a night’s sleep and wake up, see how everything feels. Kyle Moore got a minor shoulder; he’s day-to-day, nothing really to talk about. D[errick] Ward had a foot sprain; he’s definitely day-to-day. He’s walking around in a precautionary boot just in case you see him so these guys don’t have to write a major story about that. He’s got a boot on him so he can keep some stabilization. The only really significant one [is Michael] Clayton, and it’s a lot better than we thought, not severe at all. He’s probably next week but he’ll miss several days and actually that might be a blessing in disguise for Clayton, how hard he was practicing. He has a little bit of a hamstring and it’s a little bit deeper than the other ones. He’s week-to-week, I should say, rather than day-to-day. He’ll miss several days. We’ve got [Jeff] Faine. He’s a groin, he should return next week, which is good for Faine a little bit. Today in practice, Kelly Campbell pulled his quad on one of those deep balls – not pulled it – he’s day-to-day but he’s got a quad a little bit. He’s day-to-day but he should be okay, too. You know those track guys – they get little nicks and stuff. That’s how it is.”

(On practice)
“It was a good practice because you had a chance to go out there and see our mentality. Today, you saw a little bit of weakness as far as the mentality. We rode the emotional rollercoaster a little bit. I’ll give you an example: Kellen Winslow…and we already talked about this so there’s no talking behind my team’s back or worrying about throwing anybody under the bus. But Kellen Winslow catches a pass, he’s hyped up, he gets the crowd going, he can throw it down behind his back, spin it, get Flip [Jermaine Phillips] going, get the people around him riled up. But then he drops one, puts his head down and walks back to the huddle. That’s the part of riding the emotional rollercoaster that we don’t want to do. You’ve got to be the same. You’ve got to remain unwavered no matter what, no matter what’s going on around you, your surroundings. You need somebody to pick him up. Nobody on our team should let him drop his head and he shouldn’t think about dropping his head. That’s a part about being a team, that’s a part about going on to the next play and moving on, or one play becomes a bad practice. You need those good plays to keep it a ride and for people to take onto it. We started out on offense today like gangbusters. They came out and they were going. We had Team Run going, we had a couple nice runs, a couple great throws in that Team Run period. Seven-on-seven it got a little better. Then we went to Special Cat, got some special cat situations, had a little bit of an empty period there, tried to do some things with the quarterback and some signals, and we started to fall off a little bit. First time doing it, and they didn’t look as good. And then at the end of it we finished up with some movement stuff, some Y Trades, some shifts and motions, all that kind of stuff, and that’s when that mental weakness of riding the emotional rollercoaster started. In the beginning of practice everybody was high, everybody was rolling on offense. At the end of practice, they started to falter a little bit, and you’ve got to catch that kind of stuff. It’s great for me to sit around and look at it as a head coach, and say, ‘Man, these guys just give me stuff to talk about every day.’ I don’t even have to make this stuff up. That’s just something to catch today, and it’s good to catch it today rather than catch it in a game. You don’t want to get in a game and then find out you’ve got a team riding an emotional rollercoaster, you’ve got a team coming off the field sad when they don’t get a first down, you’ve got a team coming off the field happy when they get one. That’s not the way we’re going to play. We’re going to remain unwavered, we’re going to thrive on our next opportunity and we’re going to force our will on our opponent. So we’ve got to think that way, play that way, breathe that way.”

(On if that sort of mentality is what a defensive back has to have)
“There is no doubt about it. That mentality, I just believe, has got to be your team. I don’t know how you come off the field and have an argument one series and then go back out there and things are supposed to just click. I’d rather come to the sideline, talk about it, figure out what we’ve got to get fixed, go back out there and do it. I don’t work like that. I can’t work like that. I don’t even ride the emotional rollercoaster when I see something bad at practice. I just kind of do my little slow bob to somebody, walk up to them and say what I have to say. If it’s real negative, I keep it under the radar so you guys don’t put it on the TV. And if it’s really positive, that’s when I really get loud. I want that to generate across the team. If you’re going to ride any rollercoaster, let’s remain high. If I’m going to tear you down, I might tear you down up close. Now if I’m challenging you, that’s another thing. If I’m asking you to stand up, that’s another thing, because that’s what motivates you, that’s what pushes your buttons. It’s a difference, I believe, and that is a defensive backs mentality. That’s my mentality and that’s what I want our team mentality to be.”

(On if there is a quarterback that’s standing out)
“Well, the two older guys are playing really well. They’re having days back and forth, those two guys. Luke [McCown] and Byron [Leftwich] are having days back to back. One day Byron looks hot, one day Luke looks hot. Their leadership skills are coming out. The tempo got a lot better after that one day we talked about in here. Those two guys are going back and forth. The other guys, they need some opportunities and I’m going to provide that a little bit tomorrow for them. Their quarterback coach designed it so that if the two older guys came out and executed well and they did the right things, they would give them a little Santa Claus treatment tomorrow, give them a little rest so we can see some younger guys tomorrow. So you’ll get a chance to see a couple of young guys perform tomorrow because [Leftwich and McCown] did come out today and execute well. Just because every play doesn’t hit doesn’t mean it’s the quarterback’s fault. It could be somebody not running the right routes, it could be protection, it could be whatever it is. Usually we blame the quarterback, which is fine. That’s the nature of the beast, that’s the position, just like the head coach is going to get blamed when he looks bad. So we’re in the same boat, we’re on the same page. But those two guys have separated themselves a little bit in this competition. My younger guys are going to have an opportunity tomorrow to step up. We’ve still got to get to that first game to really get any separation, because that’s when they’ve really got a chance to get hit. Right now they know they’re not getting hit. They’ve got a yellow jersey on – don’t touch me – so it’s easy.”

(On why players were running gassers)
“I’ve got this little deal going on. I don’t even know if I shared it with you guys yet. We want some structure with the get-back coach. I don’t know if you guys have been around football practice…I get so angry standing back there saying, ‘Get back,’ the whole practice. So it’s easy for me. Get back to 20 yards. Coaches, you get back to 15. If anybody’s in front of it, I’m going to give you two tweets, go line up and run a gasser and come back. It’s easy. And the next time I’ll do it again and you’ll run two gassers, or half-gassers, whatever you want to call them. So that’s real easy. It works for me. And every now and then I throw a competition drill out there. Like today, the third down was competition. The defense won so the offense had to run it by themselves. Every once in awhile you get a really competitive drill for half a gasser and we’ll run it and just do some stuff. At the same time, it’s conditioning our team, at the same time it’s conditioning everybody, so every once in awhile when they mess up it doesn’t bother me as much. I get a chance to run Donald Penn, I get a chance to run AB [Antonio Bryant] and all those guys and get them in shape, better shape.”

(On Gaines Adams)
“To me, the right defensive end, his response is going to happen on game day. He looks good rushing out there right now in pads and there’s not a full-go, you can’t extend, you can’t push the tackle into the quarterback, you’ve got to hold up. Gaines knows it has to come out on Sundays, and right now Saturdays. He knows that. There’s no secret. We’re not afraid to say that.”

(On not reading too much into a good camp performance by Adams)
“No, but I will give him credit and I’ll say to Gaines I like his effort. I love his ability. He’s got a nutritionist, he’s gained some weight, he’s taking this thing seriously, this is his livelihood. We know it, he knows it. I’ve got to give him credit for that.”

(On if the canceled Friday practice is due to the minor injuries)
“Really, it’s not the tweaks and things like that. When I originally planned the schedule I said, ‘Let me go two twos and we’re off Sunday, right?’ That all sounds great in the offseason, but now you think, let me stay in our two-one format. It’s working pretty well, it’s a good deal. Why go two-two – two the next day and two Saturday and then go into a Sunday with potentially more tweaks. It’s not worth it. I’m loving the two-one format, so we pulled back the reins a little bit. Santa Claus is coming to town – let’s have a team activity and call it a day.”

(On how Earnest Graham is fitting in)
“Fitting in? He’s in. He’s a guy. He’s a stud. Understand, he’s Mr. Consistent. The thing about Earnest Graham is, I don’t even know he’s out at practice. He’s just one of those guys that you look up and say, ‘Wow, he had 100 yards on us today. That’s unfortunate.’ That’s what Earnest Graham is, that’s what he’ll continue to be. He’s hard-nosed, he’s hanging on every single word I say. I’ve got the attention of Earnest Graham, I’ve got the attention of the team, I’ve got the attention of his room, and that’s what’s important to Earnest Graham. We’ve got Derrick Ward here and he’s talking to those guys about splitting time and they’re getting fired up about it. Cadillac [Williams] is coming back. Peanut [Clifton Smith] needs his carries. There’s only one ball, but we all want to win. If we can keep the common goal [being] we want to win, I think those guys will be fine.”

(On if he believes that a person like Derrick Ward can be driven by where he comes from)
“Yes. Living proof right in front of you. You talk about Derrick Ward, you’re talking about a free agent in this league. You’re talking about a guy that played in a backfield that was loaded and he ran for 1,000 yards. Guys like that usually don’t even get carries, when you’ve got a Brandon Jacobs on your team, a Tiki Barber, some of those guys he had on his team. Then they drafted Ahmad Bradshaw and this guy, I don’t even know him. He’s got that Earnest Graham mentality. Maybe a little more burst than Earnest, but he’s got that Earnest Graham mentality. How is Earnest Graham so driven? I don’t know. Those guys you really can’t understand. You can’t explain those guys. You’re talking about free agent guys who are featured running backs in the NFL. Man, that’s awesome. That’s what you look for. You look for that kind of character. That’s kind of what I talked about the other day, that 53rd man. At one point, Derrick Ward was somebody’s 53rd man. He forced his will on his opponent and just moved up.”

(On if it’s a goal for Graham and Ward to each get 1,000 yards)
“I just want to be able to run the ball physically. I don’t care how many yards they get. They can get more than 1,000; that’s okay, too. And I don’t care who does it. That’s not important. We’ve got to work together and we’ve got to be able to use them. And they are weapons. We know that. Earnest is a weapon, Derrick’s a weapon, Cadillac’s a weapon, Peanut’s a weapon. We’ve got to find ways to use them, maybe both of them on the field at the same time. I know teams have had success with it. We’re just going to go. We’re going to follow that script, follow that plan.”

(On if he has tough decisions to make at receiver)
“That’s a great point. We do. We know 80. We know AB. Other than that, we’re looking for a slot. You’ve got B.C. [Brian Clark] competing at a high level; Mo [Maurice Stovall] is starting to step outside his box, he’s starting to come back; Dexter Jackson’s showing up a little bit better and better every day. He’s up and down still. He’ll drop a slant, he’ll make a big play, he’ll run a reverse, you’ll see the speed, he should have gotten in, he shouldn’t have, whatever. The arguments are there. You see Kelly Campbell flash down the field but then he pulls a quad and has to sit out. So you have to make decisions. Those are tough decisions. Cortez Hankton, how did he sneak into the bout? Who let him in the ring? Who told him he was invited? And he’s forcing his will. That’s awesome. Sammie Stroughter – I thought you were a seventh-round pick. You’re supposed to be my practice squad wideout – why are you competing so hard? These guys don’t have that mentality. They want to play, they want to start, and that’s how it has to be.”

(On veterans accepting leadership roles)
“That’s awesome that you say that. I don’t want my old men to be the leaders. Back in ’95, I believe, or ’96, Derrick [Brooks] came in here, Warren Sapp came in here, John Lynch came in here. Those guys emerged on the team, and I don’t even know who those [other guys] were. You guys might remember those guys back then – Lonnie Marts and guys like that, right? Those guys became leaders. Warrick Dunn walked in here, Mike Alstott walked in here. They were young – 22, what, 24 – and they’ve been the catalysts for the Bucs for the last 13 years. That’s why everybody got so angry when they left. Some of these young guys better be the catalyst to take us to the next 13. Ronde [Barber] can’t lead us for 13 more. There’s no way. [Chris] Hovan can’t lead us for 13 more. They can set great examples, they can show, they can push a guy in a direction. But our leaders better be Barrett Ruud, our leaders better be Gaines Adams, our leaders have to be Sabby Piscitelli, Tanard Jackson, Aqib Talib, Derrick Ward, Earnest Graham, Cadillac. All the forgotten names.”

(On if Ward’s injury is good for Williams to get more reps)
“Any time you’ve got a chance to get extra reps, obviously it helps the next guy, whoever that next guy is. It could be Cadillac, it could help Kareem Huggins. It could help [Josh] Vaughan. When a guy sits out, another guy gets an opportunity and you either make the most out of it or you don’t. It’s going to help everybody behind him, it’s going to help us all. I think it’s going to help us all in the long run. Again, everything to me prepares us for the season. Derrick Ward might get a sprain in the Dallas game and miss a week or two. I hope that helps out Cadillac. I hope that helps out Earnest and whoever else we might have that week. Clayton might get a tweak and Maurice Stovall might have to step up, and so would BC and so would Stroughter. That’s what you look for. You need guys to be able to step in and be comfortable stepping in and feel like they’re the guy. When I put a guy in, I don’t want to go, ‘Oh man. I don’t know. This is going to be a tough week.’ ‘No – remember in training camp when he went down and the guys went out there and practiced and we didn’t miss a beat? We stood up and looked pretty good? Let’s go. Let’s go to work. Let’s throw him out there and see what he’s got.'”

(On him having faith in his players)
“I hope so. I was a part of most them being here. When they got here, I was with them, and we drafted them together. We didn’t do a terrible job around here of drafting; some of these guys are pretty good players. They just need opportunities, and here they come.”

(On if the secondary is getting to enough balls)
“Elbert Mack did. Ronde Barber touched a couple. We need Aqib Talib to touch some more. We need him to be the catalyst, the lead. Actually, we need Tanard Jackson and Sabby Piscitelli to touch some more. Tanard actually got his hands on a couple the other day and he really got his hands on one today, got a nice PI. Great job by PC [Patrick Carter], you just can’t grab your own teammate in practice. That’s what I told him when I walked up to him. But we’re not going to give away picks. Our receivers are priding themselves on that. But we’ve got to stop big plays. We gave up way too many big plays from a DB standpoint. And we’ve got to get our hands on more balls. We’re going to be defined by how many times we touch the ball, and that’s always going to be the same thing in the DB room, period.”

Courtesy of the Buccaneers Public Relations Department.

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