It's almost here! It's almost here! We are now two days away from the Saints season opener against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers! I have compiled an assortment of linkage and quotes from behind enemy lines regarding the upcoming game for you guys to check out. Besides getting a little more familiar with the Bucs and what they are thinking as they head into this Sundays matchup, it should also get your blood flowing and build your excitement and anticipation.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 2007 Season Stats Check out this link for all of last seasons stats on Tampa Bay.
"We will once again showcase to a national audience that the city of New Orleans is made up of resilient people and that we are ready to stand our city back up as quickly as possible, put this storm behind us and move on with our lives,"
"We don't say anything. We just continue to make plays," said Brooks, who turned 35 in April and is entering his 14th season. "Pretty soon they have to start using other words to describe you."
-LB Derrick Brooks
"I'm playing the last year of a contract year, and I'm going to make the most of it," Garcia said. "I'm going to do everything I can do to help us win football games."
"I'm just thankful, as I'm sure [everyone is] too, that the storm didn't go through there," said Buccaneers Head Coach Jon Gruden. "I'm sure there were some people that were hit hard and my prayers go out to people like that that are helpless in those situations. It's just good fortune for New Orleans that it didn't hit there again, and it's good fortune for us, too."
"I think it's great for that city," said running back Earnest Graham. "They're really rallying around the football team right now and they need that. For us to kick the season off in New Orleans is a big deal. It's a big deal for the country. I'm definitely excited to over there and play them. They're happy that they still have the opportunity to play in New Orleans for our first game."
-RB Earnest Graham
"We want to do really good things," said Gruden. "To do that, you've got to go on the road and you've got to be able to come up with some wins. This will be a stiff challenge, a great opponent, a lively atmosphere and hopefully it brings out the best in us.
"It's going to be loud regardless of the circumstances, but they have a lot of reasons to rejoice in New Orleans right now. They have a great city that's coming back strong and they've got a good football team."
"He's as good as I've seen at it," former Saints and current Bucs center Jeff Faine said of Brees' ability to avoid sacks. "Some guys just get it. He's one of them. It's like it's second nature to him.
"I mean, he plays poker with the linebackers. He knows when they're bluffing and he knows when they're really coming. Plus, he gets the ball out so quick and sees the field so well; it's just amazing."
-Jeff Faine, on Drew Brees
"You've just got to be quick off the ball and hope the coverage is on point," said defensive tackle Jovan Haye, who was one of two players (Chicago's Roman Harper was the other) to get to Brees twice last season.
"It's really a matter of just being relentless," defensive end Greg White said. "When it's all said and done, with the chalkboard, the scheming, you just have to beat your man."
"It's really a matter of just being relentless," defensive end Greg White said. "When it's all said and done, with the chalkboard, the scheming, you just have to beat your man."
-DE Greg White
"I like blitzing, but I don't want to live by the blitz," Kiffin said. "You can only go so far with the blitz. You've got to mix it up, so I always look hard at the front four. That's where you have to get the pressure from."
-Defensive coordinator, Monte Kiffin
"I thought it was ironic to see it on the schedule for the first game of the year," said Faine. "I really have to approach it as just another opponent. I'm going to see a lot of familiar faces, and I definitely have some insight on some of the personal things with those guys. For the most part, I just have to take it as another game."
"Just anxious," said Hovan. "It is a lot of uncertainty, it is funny how your life comes around sometimes. You go play your old team at their place. It is a little weird, but you get that first hit in the game and shake those cobwebs off and get those butterflies out and your great.
"For me, the speed of the game picked up. The next thing I know I'm in just another game. It is the anticipation for the game. The whole offseason and you're looking at it, like ‘darn, do I really have to go back to the place I started.' But it is great though to get a chance to go out there and play with the emotion and excitement."
-Chris Hovan, DT
"I think it is definitely not going to be as dramatic as it was after Katrina," said Faine. "It was a totally different deal. There will be some of that feeling for the fans and the team. The whole population of New Orleans is coming back, and will be back for this game. I think we're going to feel it, and there will definitely be some energy there. It is something we have to prepare for.
"I definitely felt for them. I still have property there. I still have my house there. It is definitely a big deal. New Orleans could not have taken another traumatic hit like Katrina was, and probably not for another 50 years. It was catastrophic. I'm excited and happy for the fans and the city that they didn't have to rebuild the city, and that is something everybody should really appreciate."
"In some ways it might have been a little better situation up there, to kind of get away from everything. I think the only distraction they have is worrying about their families. That got pretty much left behind when they went up there, and they basically had to handle themselves. After that it was business as usual. I know [head coach Sean Payton] well enough and he has his team prepared well and won't let it be a distraction at all."
"It is definitely going to be a huge game for them. It is a major emphasis from coach Payton to get up for division opponents, as it is for every head coach. It is a big time game, especially to start the season off in the right way. It is a division opponent and a rival."
"It doesn't bother me at all," Garcia said of his calf injury. "I'm free of any pain or discomfort, or soreness or stiffness. I feel it is as close to 100 percent if not 100 percent as it has been, so that is a good thing for me."
"He's a guy that touches the ball on every play. He's the catalyst and we've got to help him make plays," Bucs wide receiver Ike Hilliard said of Garcia. "He was my first Pro Bowl quarterback. In my 11 years in the league I hadn't played with one until last year. I was excited about that and I'm excited about going into this year with him as our quarterback."
-Ike Hilliard, on Jeff Garcia
"Well, [the Saints] definitely have tried to address the defense," said Garcia. "They brought in a great linebacker in [Jonathan] Vilma. They have good linebackers they have a good solid front four. They added a great pick out of USC [defensive tackle Sedrick Ellis] in the draft. I think they are trying to address their defensive backfield and secure that and lock that up. I think through the experience that they have had of the last couple of years of playing together; they are going to be a much better defensive football team than what they went through last year. We're getting ready for that. We're getting ready for the great challenge that they are going to put forth and the heat that they may bring. They are capable of bringing a lot of heat. You see that in the preseason the way they got after Carson Palmer in Cincinnati. They are much more sound defensively. They are much aggressive defensively, and they are much more capable of making some big plays."
"He didn't have the performance he wanted and was rusty, but he knows that," said Bucs fullback B.J. Askew. "Jeff knows what he has to do. You're not going to get more of a mindset in terms of how to be a professional than what you get in Jeff. I think he'll be fine."
-B.J. Askew, on Jeff Garcia
"I'm definitely ready," said Askew. "I've been taking all mental reps, of course. Just coming out here on the field I feel like I haven't missed a step. I feel a lot better. I'm ready to roll."
"Sometimes as players we're really hardheaded and try to push through injuries anyway, but the thing I like about our organization here is they want you to be healthy and do the right thing," said Askew. "I know there are other organizations that would have tried to push me out there on the field and tell me to play through it. But our staff came to me and said, ‘Let's get this thing right so that on opening day you're ready to roll.'
"I had my injury last year, and it doesn't get better during the season. It doesn't get better until the season is over. I look back on how I played with that injury and I don't know how I did it. I pride myself on being a tough guy, but [former Jets running back] Curtis Martin was the toughest guy I ever played with. He played through all sorts of things and never once complained about it. I try to be tougher than him."
"I'm 100 percent," Piscitelli said. "I'm good."
-Safety Sabby Piscitelli
"We're anticipating Zuttah being the starter, and we're confident in him," said Gruden. "Hopefully nothing happens to change that in the next couple of days.
-Jon Gruden, on RG Jeremy Zuttah
"We have to get pressure on Brees," said Haye. "I think they only gave up 16 sacks last year, and we had [five] of them. Our goal is to get even more pressure on him, but that's going to be hard to do because he's a great quarterback and he gets the ball out quickly."
"We're confident," said Adams. "It helps that we know that we can get after the quarterback and let the secondary sit back and do their job. This week is a huge challenge for us to see if we can get pressure on Drew Brees. He's a tremendous quarterback."
-DE Gaines Adams
"I hope I can get (to play) on Sunday, but we will see," Galloway said. "I’m lobbying to be out there on Sunday. Again, that’s his call. I can just prepare and hope to be ready, and at the end of the day on Sunday that will be a game-time decision that he’ll make. … I’m feeling pretty good. I haven’t played football in a while. It’s going to be Coach’s call on whether he thinks I’ll be ready, but I’m hoping to play."
"Each and every time we get a chance to compete, I want to give the team the best chance to win and hopefully that is with me on the field. If Coach makes a decision that someone else will give us a better chance on that given day, I’ll listen to what he says and I’ll go with that."
"Don’t tell anyone. Don’t tell them," a smirking Galloway said when he was asked about his big games against the Saints. "With me being unhealthy, I would suggest that they play man-to-man as they don’t have much to worry about with the way I’ve been feeling lately. I haven’t been playing in many games. It’s safe to say that man-to-man coverage is fine.
"I’ll be rusty and I’ll be a little slow. If I was New Orleans looking at what I’ve done in the preseason, I would relax a little and think that there is not much to worry about."
"These guys in the locker room are more understanding than Coach is," Galloway said with a laugh. "These guys sort of smirk and laugh and say, ‘As long as you are ready on Sunday, everything is okay.’ Now the ‘Zookeeper’ is a little different. He likes to see you out there. Those days when I didn’t practice, boy, [Gruden] would give it to me at night. These guys in here, I think they trust me."
"It depends on what you mean by 100 percent," Galloway said. "I wouldn’t say it’s back to where it used to be, but at the same time, it’s functional. It’s just one of those things we’ll have to deal with as we go into each and every game."
"I keep telling Coach that the offense has to go through me," Galloway said. "Now how much of that he listens to, I don’t know. As far as the offense is concerned, I have a job to do. There will be different times where it will be my job to block – hopefully not often. But sometimes I have to block. Sometimes I’ll have to just clear some guys out. Sometimes the ball comes to me."
"I expect him to, but we have a couple of more days to go and we'll have to see how he feels," said Gruden. "He's getting better."
"This is a team that's going to miss two-deep zone with four-deep, and they're going to blitz you," said Head Coach Gruden, whose team finished two days of game-plan installation on Thursday. "We're expecting a very creative blitz. Everybody's [copying] the Giants and all the other teams that have had success blitzing, and the Saints are good blitzers themselves. They've had a nice blitz package the last couple years. They've got a marquis corner here in [Mike] McKenzie and they've added some players to really help the pass rush. They're going to mix it up, and we're preparing for the blitz."
"We expect him to not play like a rookie," said Gruden. "We expect him to play like a seasoned veteran; he's going to have to for us to win this game and I think we all understand that. He's going to see some really good players. They have Sedrick Ellis and [Brian] Young, they're very talented. They're going to put [Charles] Grant in there in the nickel. We're just counting on him going out there and playing the way he's been playing and doing the best that he can. But we're real confident in him and he's had a good week of practice."-Jon Gruden, on Jeremy Zuttah
"He's getting better," said Gruden. "His status for this game is obviously very doubtful at best, but hopefully he's back on the field soon."
-Jon Gruden, on Aqib Talib
"We'd like to work him out; we'd like to look into his situation," said Gruden. "Not to start another Favre saga here, but we're going to look into anybody we think is good and has any interest in playing for us. Whether or not we sign him or get him, that will all be determined after all the information is gathered.""He's been in multiple Pro Bowls, and at this point in his career his experience, his vast experience, would allow him to play either side," said Gruden. "We're going to look at him. We look forward to hopefully meeting him. We've got a lot of respect for him. These guys that have played 10, 12 years and put this kind of career together, we're going to be interested in him. We're not the only team looking into Willie, and we'll see what happens."
-Jon Gruden, on OT Willie Anderson
"This is part of the reason why you play," said Carter. "You go through training camp and preseason just to prove you can make it, and your reward is getting ready to kick off the regular season. It's exciting."
-DE Kevin Carter, on switching to TE
"He's crafty," Carter said of Brees. "He makes great decisions and he has great pocket poise and awareness. You can throw any type of look you want to at him, but he seems to see everything. He's a pretty good field general and makes everyone else around him better. We have to make sure we're on point."
"I'm trying, begging and pleading, but whether or not Coach Gruden will call my number, we'll have to see,"
"I guess the circumstances could have something to do with it, but even when we have all of our tight ends back I can hopefully sneak in there when we're down by the goal line,"
"I have done okay," said Carter. "I have to feel a little more comfortable and line up like I've been there before on offense. It's fun. This is my 14th year in the NFL and no matter how long you play you can always learn something or try something new. I'm just thankful that I'm in this position and have a coach that believes in me enough that I can make that transition and help out."
"He's looked good," said Gruden. "He's getting a workout. He has worked in our goal line and short yardage packages. There's a chance he could be in the field in those situations. Obviously, with Jerramy Stevens' situation what it is, we'll have to have [Carter] ready."
"He has great hands," Gruden said. "I can't believe they didn't use him at tight end at Florida."
"I've been talking to Alex Smith and Jerramy [Stevens] on a daily basis about how you line up and things to look for," said Carter. "The good thing that helps me is a lot of the time I'm blocking defensive ends, and I know how defensive ends play."
"I've never scored a touchdown in my life," said Carter. "This is what I'm lobbying for. This is the year. This is my year. This is the year I will score a touchdown."
"I don't see why there would be a reason for me to choose. I can do both," Carter said when asked if he would rather score a touchdown on offense or defense. "I'll take it either way."
"It is an exciting way to start the season," said Ruud. "I think it is the first time we've started against a division opponent, and it is rivalry game, too. It is on the road and the Superdome is a great place to play. It'll be fun. It is a way you like to start the season."
-MLB Barrett Ruud
"I think every offense is a little similar in that you have to stop the run first," said Ruud. "Then you got to make sure you don't give up big plays. That is kind of our whole theory, make it slow for them to get down the field, and if they do that then hats off to them. It is kind of the same thing throughout: you try to stop the run first and then take away the big play."
"I can't tell you that," said Ruud. "I can't give you an answer to that one it is a game plan one. I do know that we are aware that he is on the team. We know what he can do. We definitely have to be ready for him.
"Whenever you play against elite players it is fun. Reggie has elite skills and we are excited to play against him.
"Yeah, Deuce is a bigger guy then you'd imagine him to be. He runs hard and has been a staple of their team for a long time. Everybody here has a lot of respect for Deuce."