COURTESY OF TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS MEDIA RELATIONS DEPARTMENT
(On the addition of RB LeSean McCoy)
"He's been contributing, giving tips and pointers since Day 1 he got here. You know his resume, you know what he's done for this league and at the running back position, so [I'm] just learning from him day in and day out. It's been great having him in there and being able to learn from him too."
(On his offseason workouts with QB Tom Brady)
"What I went through over the summer, looking at the training with the hills that Walter Payton did – what he did that just inspired me – putting himself through the mental part of it just fulfilled me for when I got back here just to be ready for things like that. Working with Tom was great too [and] being able to get some chemistry, so he could see my tempo, my speed, my routes and things like that. So, hitting the field Week 1, we'll be ready, and he'll know how to go off of me."
(On learning the Buccaneers' offense, and how he thinks Brady is doing picking up the playbook)
"My first year I was in Dirk Koetter's system and it was a challenge. It was like a foreign language for me coming from college to the pros. Year two in Bruce Arians' system, it's been easier and things like that. In terms of Tom, I wouldn't even know. None of the guys would know either that he was having to learn it because he hasn't missed a beat. He hasn't missed anybody on a play or [anything] like that, so you wouldn't even know. Obviously, you know his resume, so it's good to be out there with a guy like that – a real field general."
(On how he can continue to progress in the passing game)
"I think in terms of knowing what the defense is doing, not just out there running full speed. In a zone, having to sit down and find that soft spot. In man, actually beating your man and knowing who is covering you. That's another thing that was really helpful about getting in that work in the offseason. With completely different quarterbacks, I can catch any kind of ball – from high school and pee-wee to obviously playing with the best in the game. It's definitely got me ready for this moment."
(On if he is catching the ball at a more comfortable angle after Running Backs Coach Todd McNair had previously said he was trying to catch the ball in funky angles)
"Yeah, I can attest to that. A lot of times they said I wasn't absorbing the ball; I was letting the ball hit my body. So just working in the summer with Coach [Luke] Neal on the extension of the hands, finding that diamond and being able to control the ball. [You can't be] slapping it or trying to look up field, you've got to just secure it. Those are the kinds of things I focused on this summer. I'm just trying to elevate my game each and every day."
(On the learning experience of being taken out of a game after missing a blitz pickup last season)
"It's definitely motivating. Obviously, no player wants to come out of the game. I kind of just took it as a coaching moment – learn from it. You can't keep making the same mistake, so try to correct the old mistake and not make a new one. You're never going to be perfect on the field, but obviously practice makes perfect so that's the goal there."
(On how much weight he gained this offseason and on if he believes he can be a top-10 running back in the NFL)
"Most definitely. I just have to keep putting the work in and getting better. In terms of the offseason, I put on about seven or eight more pounds of muscle, so I went from 218 [pounds] to 225 [pounds]. I feel like I'm ready for the workload and things like that, so I most definitely see 1,000 yards in my near future and for years to come. So, just being that guy for the team – that would be good."
(On players wearing new face shields over the weekend)
"The players weren't too fond of that. We tried them out on Monday – a couple guys kept seeing reflector tape or something like that. It wasn't too tough for me. It was good to have a helmet on again since we had to skip so much of the offseason with the team. That felt good to me – I was just happy to be back out there with guys and the helmet on – let my hair flow. It wasn't too bad."
(On if he feels players around the league will be concerned about playing with the face shield)
"I think it will be because most of the guys said they couldn't really breathe if they had the visor on. They said if you didn't have the visor on, it didn't really work. We've got to find a balance, I guess. I would obviously want it off [and] just do a regular visor. There's still some type of holes in there – air is getting through in and out every play, so it'll be interesting to see."
(On if there is a specific thing he has learned from QB Tom Brady so far)
"He always tells me to get low in my routes and run my routes like I already have the ball. A lot of times I was trying to get a feel for the defense, if it was zone of man. I'm working on getting that pre-snap read and then just exploding through my routes, just finishing. I think that's been what we've been working on now just in the shorts and stuff."
(On what went through his head when Tampa Bay drafted RB Ke'Shawn Vaughn)
"I was like, 'Welcome to the team,' because I knew my old friend (Peyton Barber) was gone – he had signed with another team. It's good to have him. He's an explosive guy, a fast kid, just learning each and every day. I'll be able to help him and then 'Shady' (LeSean McCoy) can help both of us, so it's a good environment and we're all competing to be the guy, so it'll be good for us."
(On the potential cancellation of the collegiate football season and what resources should be available to college football players)
"That's tough, honestly. My heart goes out to them because I don't know what I would do if I was in their position. I would just say [to] listen to their heart. At the same time, it's tough finding that balance because those guys want to play and they're trying to get to this level and accomplish their goals and dreams. With that being put on hold, it's really tough. They need some type of union, some type of organization so they can get collective minds together and find a way to make it happen because we need college football. Those guys have been working their whole lives just as we have, so it hurts to see them not play, at least for now. We'll see."
(On the most important thing for him to do between now and Week 1 to get himself ready to play)
"I say for now, just getting that chemistry with the [offensive] line and with Tom Brady as the quarterback. Since we won't be having the preseason, that first drive is going to be flying bullets Week 1. I'm excited, we're excited, but I think just getting the timing and stuff down – things like that – so when we go out there, things just flow."
(On being involved in the passing game as a running back and how Brady's ball placement helps him succeed in it)
"For me it's exciting because you get more touches that way. I look forward to the challenge being more of a receiver this year and getting the ball in space, too. As a running back you can't ask for much more, so that element, that part of it, is definitely more exciting and is something I worked on all offseason. So, I'll be ready for that and when the time comes, hopefully I can double that number."