Dirk Koetter on Playing 'Tougher, Harder' During 2018 Training Camp

Head coach Dirk Koetter spoke to the media the day after the final preseason camp about how the Bucs played.

(On who has the most chance of making the team after last nights game)

I think everyone that played did something positive. I dont think anybody thats going to make our team hurt themselves last night. The obvious answer there is Shaun Wilson. I mean, he played really good and hes continued to ascend throughout training camp. I mean, itll all become more clear tomorrow 

(On if running back Ronald Jones struggles in the run game were on him or the lack of blocking)

Ronald Jones had three straight runs in the first half where we had a mental error by the blockers up front, which [laughs]. Then the fourth one is when we were backed up on our one-yard line and Im sure if I were Ronald Jones Id be thinking the same thing get this ball out of the end zone after Id just been hit for a five-yard loss. As I said last night, you know its frustrating as a coach that we couldnt figure out something to get Ronald Jones in space. I just want to make it clear that this guy is working hard in practice. Hes improved as a receiver. Hes improved as a pass blocker. He knows his assignments, its not a playbook issue. He just didnt get very many good running opportunities. Thats really all I can say about it.

(On running backs wanting carries)

All the great ones want the ball. I ran into Fred Taylor in the tunnel last night hes doing TV for Jacksonville and I told you guys this before, when I first came in the league and we had Fred Taylor and Maurice [Jones-Drew], both of them wanted the ball. They both wanted to play and when one was in there, the other one was mad. You know all the good ones want the ball all the time. Ronalds doing good things in practice. Were happy with where he is. Im not happy not anything to do with him how we blocked some for him and then how coaching-wise we didnt do a good enough job getting him in space.

(On what he saw out of defensive end Noah against Jacksonville)

I see a guy thats working hard to get better. He needed to play. I mean, Noah I think I mentioned last night, I dont think you were in there when I said it Noah told me at halftime that he was having a great time playing on all downs, not just on pass downs. And I think Noah got better last night. I think he needed to go out there and play like he was an every down player. Ill just say that if you look around the league I think their first-round pick was playing in that game, I mean not in the fourth quarter, but he was playing. I mean, playing is playing. Noah needed to play. It was a good experience for him and I think he got better last night.

(On how pleased he is with the depth of the rookie class)

We thought it was a good draft when it happened and those guys have all had their highs and their good points and they all have things they need to work on, but shoot thats how you hope your draft picks are going to make it. The biggest frustration its nobodys fault is Vita [Vea] hasnt been able to be out three and thats just due to injury. Not due to any fault of his.

(On what the team will do with linebacker Kendall Beckwith)

Yeah, I think were closer and thats going to happen tomorrow. But, I think we know which way it has to go.

(On the plan for roster moves and the players schedule)

Were going to finalize the roster tomorrow. The players are off today, Saturday, Sunday. Well bring the guys in and well have a lightened practice on Monday. And then theyre on their regular schedule: Tuesday off and then Wednesday and were rolling straight through.

(On being concerned about the start of the regular season vs. preparing for the fourth preseason game)

I think a combination. It did seem to me from other teams, just right now that every game is on TV and theres a game on all the time. Just as Im glancing, youre seeing that this guy didnt play this game, this guy didnt play that game. We had that weird situation where the Rams and the Raiders played in Week 2, but yet they play an opening day. And then like last night Cincinnati and Indy play and they play Week 1, so theres some of that going on. When you really think of it as a coach, youve got some guys at certain positions that if you lost that player, how much it affects your team. The next guy, its a big drop and at the same time those guys need to play to build their conditioning because you can go out there and run sprints of gassers or whatever you want to call them its not playing football. We tried to make training camp tougher. I think if you talk to the players, we did a decent job of that. I think our players responded. I think we practiced hard in training camp which I do think will pay off for us. I think more and more teams are just taking it more on a position- by-position basis in the earlier games, but I think preseason [game] four was probably about it has been the last few years anyway.

(On if he is concerned Jameis Winstons reaction concerning comments suggesting he is not guaranteed to be the starter he returns from suspension in Week 4)

No, because Jason [Licht] and myself have both talked to Jameis about it and Jameis is a very mature guy. I think the word in there was, Can [Licht] guarantee [Winston will start], right? We cant guarantee anything. Jameis had an excellent preseason and as Ive been saying all along, Week 4 is Week 4. Its a shortened week coming off of a Monday night game. Who know whats going to happen then? Wed be foolish to be focusing on anything else except Week 1. Then after Week 1, Week 2. After Week 2, Week 3, which is a Monday night game. Then a shortened week leading into Chicago. Im confident that Jameis is going to do everything that he can do to be ready when he comes back, but its just that when he comes back. Hes going to be out of the building for a while and when he gets back well see and well see how were doing and well see how the quarterbacks are playing. I promise you well make the best decision that we think gives the Bucs the best chance to go beat Chicago, when its time to make that decision. Today, or last night or any time before that is not the time.

(On how training camp was made tougher)

Im going to just keep that between me and the team right now because anything I say on that is going to just get picked apart and theres just no use in doing it at this point because its over. In my mind, we did a good job in that area. The proof is in the pudding, when we start playing football. I think the players would echo that. All that matters now is lets get ready to play real football and lets start getting ready for New Orleans.

(On which position is the hardest to decide on in cutting the roster down)

I would say wide receiver is the toughest.

(On if the team will keep five or six wide receivers)

I feel good about keeping six, I feel good about keeping five. Id love to keep seven or eight.

(On the importance of continuity on the offensive line)

I think its a big thing that they work together. Like we were talking earlier, it goes how it goes and youve just got to make the best of it. In a perfect world that you paint the picture up there, I wish we had the five starters out there, we knew who they were, they played together 1,000 snaps of training camp they dont take all 1,000 reps, but I think its in the 300-400 range of snaps that those guys take. But every year it seems like you get one or two position groups that get hit hard and we went through three cycles. The O-tackle, D-tackle and corner, all at different times. On one hand, it makes you build your depth. Sometimes you dont have depth. Then, at offensive tackle, my biggest disappointment is I think theres a couple of guys that had a really good chance to improve their status that we really didnt get to look at. We got to look at them in shorts and offensive tackles dont play in shorts. Thats a regret, but again, its nobodys fault. Nobody can do anything about it. We have to make the decisions in real time. Thats what youve got to do.

(On if it gives him confidence that the offense was successful in preseason without starting offensive linemen)

I think the players that stepped up did a good job. I think the offensive coaches did a good job of game-planning to make sure we didnt have too many mismatches. And then the preseason, because youre basically rolling three teams through there, ones, twos, and threes in all those games, it minimizes that a little bit. But I think performance-wise, those guys did a good job.

(On cornerback Brent Grimes being in rare company being in his 12th season as a cornerback)

Well when you say hes in rare company, thats because hes such a rare athlete. Brents just a rare, elite athlete with incredible flexibility, athleticism, taking care of his body and knock on wood has remained major injury free over most of his career. When we had him in Atlanta, he had the Achilles that cost him to miss a year. That was his exit from Atlanta and Miami picked him up. Brents a remarkable player. A little bit unheralded, maybe, as to how good he really is. Were looking for big things, starting next week.

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