COURTESY OF TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS MEDIA RELATIONS DEPARTMENT
(On what it was like being back in the building with all of the new changes due to COVID-19 safety protocols)
"Pretty much everything is different – the interactions with the players, the lockers not being right next to each other [and] the temperature thing when you first come in. But, I like it. I prefer to be safe rather than sorry and I'm pretty sure everybody else will like it, as well, because [there] is a lot going on right now and we do have to take precaution. I have a family, so I want as little risk as possible – even though it's still a risk. I think we're doing it as good as we can be doing it, but I'm just happy to be back in the building. We had a long break [and] I enjoyed the time with the family, but it's time to get back to work and I'm ready to go."
(On how challenging the past four months have been for him as a dad and a husband)
"It's been challenging most definitely with three kids who love interacting with other friends and going outside and playing. We've been trying to make the most of it. We've been getting a lot of family time and a lot of family activities in, in the house and then some that were outside the house that were still social distancing. It's just tough with the kids because they like doing everything. They [have been] asking to go to the jump place [and] they ask [if they] can do a lot of stuff, but they [are] thinking COVID is over, but it isn't over yet, so that's probably the most challenging part. With the educational thing, we found a homeschool teacher, so homeschooling is the safer option for us to go with, and we're going to go with that option. We've been blessed to find somebody almost in home to do it, so it's been making that part of the process a lot easier. It is still a challenge. It's challenging for everybody, so we all have to just put on our big boy pants and get to work, and just find the best way to go about it for our scenario and our situation."
(On his first interaction with QB Tom Brady and if he got him a birthday gift)
"I did not know it was his birthday until I heard people saying it in the locker room. I just saw him today. The first interaction we had was today because it was like the first time I really saw him. I just told him I'm happy to have him here, it's good to meet you in person and we're just ready to get to work together. He said pretty much, 'Good to see [you] and ready to go.' I'm like, 'Yeah' – I'm excited for our year this year. We've got a good defense [and] a good offense, so if we put it all together, we should have a shot to make some noise this year."
(On the young outside linebackers on the Buccaneers)
"So, this is the first day of actually being around those guys, so I'm getting to know them a little bit. Once we hit the field, it's going to be just bringing them along on the field, making sure they're asking questions in the meeting room. Even if they do know – still asking questions just to make sure and double check. That's something I learned – to ask questions just to be safe rather than sorry. Then just getting on the field [and] being an open book. Whatever they ask, show them, teach them and show them the right way that we want to get things done in the Buccaneers and as an outside linebacker group. We [were] relatively quiet, but we did bring in some guys that should be good guys for us and I'm really excited to start working with them and to start bringing them along."
(On how he would feel about getting 12.0 sacks this season)
"I mean, that's a good start. We might be cancelling the season if I'm only getting 12.0, though – it must be half of a season. No, but whatever helps the team out – if it's 12.0, 12.0 would be a good number, but I'm always striving to be better than I was last year. Whatever that number would be, I'm just excited that my plays potentially help the team get a couple wins."
(On if he had any discussions with his wife about possibly opting out for the 2020 NFL season)
"Nah. I told her if there's some football being played that I'm going to play. I'm a competitor. I love football and that's the way that I feed my family. That's the way that we have the life we have now, so there was pretty much no option for us to opt out as long as we were doing it the safest way possible. I feel as though we are doing it the safest way possible."
(On how he and his wife are navigating their children's schooling and social lives)
"Going back to school – we didn't want to send them back to school because we did see the way they would be in school and it wasn't a normal school environment. We don't even want to send them back to that. They still wouldn't be able to talk to friends, really still going to have to social distance. It wouldn't even be a normal school experience, so we thought home-schooling would be the best thing to do for that. With play dates and stuff, it's literally zero playdates. They do know our neighbor right next door, so we let them play with our neighbor right next door, but that's about it."
(On if it's been hard for his children adjusting to not seeing their friends and if having multiple children makes it easier for them)
"That does make it a lot easier because they have a really good bond with each other – all three of them. They understand it and then at times they do forget about it. They want to go out and do stuff, but we just remind them that COVID is still going on and they understand. Even in situations where we say, 'All right, you can shake someone's hand,' they still don't want to shake hands with anybody. They're doing pretty good with the whole COVID situation, social distancing and all the guidelines. They understand it pretty well."
(On his contract negotiations with Tampa Bay during the offseason and if the two sides were close to a long-term deal)
"It was pretty much just with the whole situation with COVID – it was too much up in the air, so we weren't able to get on terms or really get the right negotiations going because we really didn't know anything. They did make it clear that they love me, they like me, they want me and just when the time is right, we might be able to get something going in the right direction."
(On the elimination of preseason games and what he'll need to do to prepare for the regular season)
"I think it's a tough loss, especially for a lot of them coming out this year. I was an undrafted guy, so those guys might have to figure out a way to make an impact in practice on the field. It feels like something had to be sacrificed. I'm sad that it had to be that (the preseason) because I do enjoy playing at least one preseason game to get my bearings and get the rhythm going and having the time out there to fix the mistakes that we will make early in the preseason, so we won't have to worry about making those same mistakes in the [regular season] game. It's just going to be hitting the film room and treating practice like it's a game and just going from there – just being very coachable because we are going to make mistakes and we aren't going to be able to fix them from preseason games – it's all going to be out on the field. So, we've got to treat practice like it's preseason and practice like real games, so we can fix the problems that we will make and will have in practice."
(On playing New Orleans in Week 1 of the regular season)
"I really enjoy that we get to play the Saints first because that's the team last year that I thought really beat us convincingly. We didn't have a chance in the games and I didn't like that at all. I still hate losing regardless, but at least be in the game and be competitive. We didn't feel like we were competitive, so to be able to start off with that game is a good chance to come out and start the season the right way and we're looking forward to that for sure. I'm looking forward to that for sure."
(On he and ILB Lavonte David being the team's only two defensive players in the NFL Top 100 Players list and if he feels the defense as a whole is underrated)
"I think it's all based off if we were winning and [if we had] been in the playoffs, we probably would've had more guys on there. I think it's going to be just whoever the teams that were doing the best who have some guys who are making plays that's going to get all the recognition. I most definitely know Lavonte is not 100 out of everybody in the league. He's way lower than that. We know our work, we know what we can do and what we bring to the team – that's the most important thing."