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Transcripts: Mike Smith and Tony Gonzalez Interviews

Posted Dec 27, 2012

Head coach Mike Smith and tight end Tony Gonzalez spoke to the Atlanta media Thursday as they continue to prepare for Sunday's game against Tampa Bay.

Head coach Mike Smith
On the injury report:

“No. They’re the exact same as yesterday. You can print that one. There are no changes from yesterday.”

On the focus being sharp this week:

“I think the guys have done a good job the first two days of practice. The focus has been good. We know that we played these guys really tough. It was a one point game down in Tampa. We know that they’re a good football team.”

On practicing outside when it’s so cold:

“We want to stay off the turf. It wasn’t as cold as we thought it was going to be either. The wind blew a lot harder than we thought it was going to blow, too. They fought threw it. It was good.”

On TE Tony Gonzalez not fumbling since his second year:

“It’s a big deal. Ball security is important to the turnover ratio. You want to keep the ball in your hands at all times when you have it. Possession of the ball is nine tenths of the game. Tony has done it as well as anybody. For our team or for any team, you’ve got to be able to win the turnover battle. It starts by when you have the ball, not giving it up and when you don’t have it trying to take it away.”

On how truly amazing that stat is:

“It probably will get noted for Hall of Fame stuff when they start talking about Tony being inducted. His statistics are unbelievable. Touchdown catches, number of catches, what he does after catching the ball, he’s done a great job. I think a lot of it is the work that he does out on the practice field.”

Tight end Tony Gonzalez
On making the Pro Bowl:

“It’s always a great honor to be chosen by your fans, peers, and coaching staff. It’s pretty cool. I wish a little more guys had made it from our team, but in the grand scheme of things hopefully we’re not going to be able to play in that game anyway. We’re looking for another bowl.”

On the prevailing attitude in the locker room about the selections:

“I think what’s important is we had guys that played at a Pro Bowl level. That’s the most important thing because that makes a good football team. You can make an argument for sure for a couple of guys on this team. That’s the way it goes and it doesn’t matter. Like I said, our goal as a team is to play in the big game at the end of the year anyways so the talk will lead anyway. Hopefully it’s moot at the end of the year.”

On not being 13-2 without a lot of guys playing really well:

“We’re not going to make a big deal about it. It isn’t that big of a deal. It’s important that guys played at a Pro Bowl level. That’s the most important thing. That’s what I always tell myself whether I make it or not. I want to be in consideration, and we have a lot of guys that were in consideration. Maybe they’re alternates. I don’t know. I didn’t see the alternate list. I’ve been around for a while and usually the teams with better records have more guys into it. I know there are teams out there far worse records than we had and they had more guys selected to the Pro Bowl. That’s how it goes. Who cares and at the end our goal is to play in a different bowl game than the Pro Bowl. We want to play in the Super Bowl.”

On being thankful that Sunday will not be his last game if it is his last year:

“This is what I came back for. Everybody is talking about retirement this year, but I’ve been talking about retirement the last three years. This is the reason I wanted to come back and play another year with this team because we have so many talented players. This team has a great locker room, great coaching staff, and from top to bottom in the organization, Mr. Blank. This is what it’s all about. This is why we do what we do is to put ourselves in this position. It’s important that we go out and play well this week. Finish the season strong and take it on to the playoffs because that’s where we have to be at our best. I feel like our team is getting to that point.”

On the key to building chemistry with QB Matt Ryan over the years:

“Timing. That’s the most important thing you can have with a quarterback is timing and anticipation. He knows where I’m going to go before I know sometimes and I know what he’s thinking as well. We work off of each other and it’s a beautiful thing when it’s going in the right direction. I think it is right now. Not just with me, Julio (Jones), Roddy (White), Harry (Douglas), Quizz (Rodgers) coming out of the backfield. It’s a beautiful thing when guys have that anticipation and timing and when it’s on point it’s tough to stop.”

On it being unrealistic to expect that when he first got here:

“Yeah it’s unrealistic because you need that time. If you have two veteran players, when I first got here it was Matt’s second year and he was still trying to figure things out. I knew right from the beginning when I saw him that he’s got it. This guy has all the talent in the world and he has the mindset to go out there and make that talent and be great. He’s doing that right now. I think he’s going to keep getting better and better over the years. The same thing with Julio. You talk about a future. Those two together over the next five, six, seven years it’ll be very tough to stop.”

On any one year of making the Pro Bowl sticking out in his mind:

“Probably would be this year honestly. The older you get the more people start to doubt you just because it’s human nature and they’re like ‘You’re getting old. There’s no way you can move around like you used to.’ I’ve been hearing that, ‘Oh, he’s lost a step. He’s not as fast as he used to be.’ It’s nice to go out there and play well and tell them ‘Ha, what do you have to say now.’ That’s part of the fun. We’re in the business of that though. I don’t take it personal. That’s what you guys do. You guys are hired to go out there and critique us, and I love proving the critics wrong. Now, I would like to do it as team. That’s where we are. We just have to go to the playoffs and prove our critics wrong. It’s the same type of situation.”

On the importance of playing this game like it matters:

“You want to hit the playoffs running. You don’t want to go in with a lull or be like ‘We didn’t give our best effort. We weren’t focused.’ They’re a good football team, too. The hardest thing to do is to win a football game in the NFL. It is tough. It is not easy. They make a big deal about it like people look at us media wise and they say ‘You guys haven’t had impressive wins or you’ve only won by two points.’ Who cares. It’s about winning. It’s tough to do and against a team like Tampa loaded with talented players. You can’t come out without being focused because you’ll get your butt kicked. We don’t want that to happen. We want to finish strong and take it on to the playoffs.”

On mentally taking it easy this week:

“I know how I feel and I know how most of these guys are preparing this week. You don’t want that though. You don’t ever want that foot off the gas. Especially now is not the time. Like I said a couple weeks ago, we can’t go cool now. We haven’t done anything. We have to finish strong and keep building and make sure we hit that first game and we’re at our best. They say you’re only as good as your last game, so I want to make sure we leave the regular season on a good note.”

On learning from having the number one seed in 2010:

“We should. That’s what you have to do if you want to be successful. You have to learn from your mistakes as a team and an individual. We’ll probably do things a little bit differently than we did last time. I don’t know what the schedule is yet or anything like that, but it starts this week. It starts with going out there and playing well. I think we played pretty well last time going into the playoffs and we still lost. I don’t know what the answer is, but I know we do need to come out focused because it’s habits. You don’t want to develop bad habits going into the playoffs.”


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