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Quotes: Barry Cofield (11.12.14)

Nose Tackle Barry Cofield

On how he feels:

"I want to start by saying I missed you guys. There was no hello [laughter]. I was grumpy then. I wasn't playing… I feel great. You know, it's go time. I had eight games and a bye week, so I worked tirelessly with the training staff – Larry Hess, Elliott [Jermyn] – those guys were amazing. A lot of people didn't know about the groin and it bothered me pretty badly, and it's almost like the ankle came right on time. Like I think I would have had a hard time making it through the season the way my groin was. So I had the ankle and then went and had the groin surgery done like right after that, so a lot of rehab – rehabbing two different injuries – and it's been tough but I'm very excited to be back, very excited to be back."

On if his return means he can play nose tackle and move Chris Baker to defensive end:

"That's making an assumption that that's what is going to happen. We've got some creative coaches, so you never know what formation we're going to be [in]. We have position versatility, so we will be all over the place. Bake's been playing great at nose, so why would I come in and bother that situation? So we'll see how it shakes out, and Sunday hopefully the Buccaneers will be guessing to try and figure out where I'm going to be lined up at."

On if he made any observations during his time away that can help the team moving forward:

"I mean, it's definitely a unique perspective. It was definitely abnormal for me. I had never really missed any extended time in my life, you know, going back to middle school. It's been very unique being able to watch from like a bird's eye view, watch the game from upstairs, and I learned a lot. I learned a lot. There was a lot of things I talked to the guys about. Defensively, I feel like we're doing a lot of things right. We just need to make big plays here and there, and literally one play a game can really turn the momentum and change the tide. So the biggest thing I've imparted on the guys is just that we're close. We're close. We're not a Top 10 statistical defense in this league by mistake. You know you're doing some things right, but at the same time, you give up points, there's a problem. If you're losing, there's a problem. My biggest thing is that we're close, try and give guys that confidence, and we've had injuries. Hopefully I can come back, just a free agent off the streets and someone that's just going to come in, lay it on the line, just play as hard as possible and hopefully help get us over that hump. But it's going to take a collective effort, and after the bye week, I think we're ready."

On what he can offer in terms of leadership:

"From a leadership perspective, I just want to lead by example. I'm just going to be honest, I feel like it can be overstated. I'm kind of on DY's [Darrel Young's] level. When you're winning, I think that stuff gets – no one worries about it. No one asks you who are the leaders. They just ask you, 'What did you do to win?' When you're losing, when you're struggling, I think there's a spotlight cast on every little thing. I think we're a collective group of grown men that have played football our whole lives, and you just need to come together. If everyone does their job when everyone leads by example, everyone is personally accountable, I think the team will be successful. I don't think it's really… Maybe the difference between the team that wins and loses the Super Bowl is a great leader that just brings something to the table, but the difference between being 3-6 and the playoffs is not speeches. It's not having somebody to look at that you consider a leader. It's really about individuals doing their job better. So we need to start there, and once we get over that hump and once we start winning games, we'll worry about all those things that I think are just kind of intangibles that come in down the road. We really need to focus on football, play better each snap, focus on the Xs and Os, be better in the meeting room, and I think that'll help our team."

On when he would have been healthy enough to play if not for the rules governing his return:

"Honestly, I used all eight games and the bye week. When I realized that I was put on that list, it allows you to plan to use the whole time. Realistically, it was a beast, especially with the groin surgery and the ankle – it's like you can't attack either one because you have to be cognizant of both. So realistically, it was the right thing for the team to do. I used every single day. The rehab was perfect and I feel great now."

On the difference in the defense between the Dallas and Minnesota games:

"It's really hard to put into words. There's really no easy way to summarize it. We just made big plays. You come out of the Dallas game and you talk about [Bashaud] Breeland and you talk about [David] Amerson, you talk about the guys just making these huge plays that stick out in your mind. And then you look at the Minnesota game and it's just they [the big plays] weren't there. Collectively, you need everyone to come together and you need each individual to do his job and just make big plays. It's really hard to quantify it a lot of times. It's just the things that good teams do. When you watch a good team win a game, you can pick out plays in the game where that guy made a great play, that guy made a great play, and  they don't make mistakes. Sometimes great plays can cover up mistakes, and when you're making mistakes, that's a killer. I guess the biggest thing I can point out is not what we didn't do, it's what we did do against Minnesota – we made mistakes. The things that you do are not always positive; they can be negative. The mistakes we made, we just couldn't get out of that hole and we didn't make as many mistakes against Dallas, and on top of that we made big plays and that's why we were able to beat a really good team."

On watching the reports about the team:

"It's tough. It's something that when you're losing, it follows you. When you're losing in a big market, a team that has a lot of tradition, a team that draws a lot of attention, it's tough. That's to be expected. I experienced it in New York when we were struggling. And a lot of it is just people looking for answers. When you're a professional and you get paid a lot of money, you put a lot of time into it and you don't really have answers, you know, people are going to look for answers wherever they are. It's definitely tough when you're not able to help. That's why I didn't really speak to the media while I was injured because I couldn't help the team. I didn't feel it was my place to really criticize or really speak on the problems because only the guys out there can fix it. That's why I talk about accountability and leading by example. When I'm not out there, I can't lead by example, so I kind of like to step back. I'll talk to certain guys, certain vets, that I can trust to kind of take my message and go spread it to the team. Realistically, some things only winning cures, and that's really how I feel, especially in this league. I feel like if we get some wins, then a lot of the other stuff will dissipate and everyone will be happy and we'll go forward and things will be fine. All the little things that pop up when you're struggling, I think those things will fall back."

On the young players on the defense:

"Honestly, I've seen a lot of growth. I've seen those guys make a lot of plays and really stand up in big moments and play like vets. Speaks well for the future. At some point, you've got to have guys that you feel that are going to be there two, three years down the road, leading the team by example, playing well and carrying the team on into the future. Those guys have definitely grown. When you get to a certain point in the season, I know when I was a  rookie, they told me quick that you're not a rookie anymore. The first time you get knocked on your butt, the first time the coach curses you out, the first time you make a big play, once you run the gamut and experience everything the NFL has to offer, you're not a rookie anymore. You've seen it and you're expected to prepare a certain way and you're a pro and you have those type of expectations. Those guys are talented enough to do the job. If they weren't, you'd have an understanding. So they're talented enough to do the job. They've experienced everything now, so they're no longer rookies. They may not be as old as me. I won't call it a vet – I'm just old. They may not be as old, but they've experience enough that we count on them every week and I feel like they can meet the challenge."

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