Transcripts: Wednesday News Conferences

Posted Jan 17, 2013

Head coach Mike Smith, quarterback Matt Ryan, center Todd McClure and linebacker Sean Weatherspoon all spoke to the media Wednesday as the Falcons prepare for the NFC Championship game.

Head coach Mike Smith
Opening statement:

“We just finished our first practice of our week in terms of our preparation for the 49ers. The weather brought us inside, so we weren’t able to go out and practice where we normally do on Wednesdays, but we had a good practice.”

On the injury report:

“CB Chris Owens did not practice today. DE John Abraham was limited in practice. DT Jonathan Babineaux was limited in practice today as well. Those are probably the three guys that we’re most concerned about. S William Moore is a full participant in practice, but he does have an injured hand.”

On how going inside changes practice:

“The only thing that we can’t do inside is we can’t punt the football. We weren’t able to punt the ball like we normally do on our punt protection and punt coverage.”

On how he views the 49ers as he prepares for Sunday:

“This is a very good football team in all three phases. I think they’re a very physical team. They try to win the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball. On the offensive line they have a bunch of big, strong guys and on the defensive line I’ve been very impressed with their front seven.”

On the contrasting styles of QB Matt Ryan and QB Colin Kaepernick:

“Matt is more of a traditional quarterback. As we all know, he’s going to be a guy that stays in the pocket. You’re going to pretty much know where he is. Facing Colin, over the last seven or eight games that he’s been in, I think they have evolved their offense to involve him more in that read scheme or that pistol scheme. We have some familiarity with the read play because of playing twice in our conference against the Carolina Panthers. We’ve played the Washington Redskins and then Seattle last week. There is some familiarity, but there are a lot of nuances in what San Francisco does. Coach Roman does an outstanding job in putting together a game plan with Coach Harbaugh.”

On having to pick what you want to stop because you can’t cover everybody:

“It’s a situation where there are playmakers at both levels with their offense, and you’re going to have to put together a plan to slow down certain aspects of it. It’s a very explosive offense that they’ve created. Probably, in the top three or four in the League in terms of explosive plays. They’ve got a great receiving crew as we know. Their starting two really get together with Kaepernick in [WR Michael] Crabtree and WR Randy Moss is going to be a Hall of Famer. Then, their tight ends run like wide receivers. We’re not even talking about their running game with RB Frank Gore, a Pro Bowl running back that runs behind his pads. RB LaMichael James is one the top five in terms of speed as a tailback in the NFL. They’ve got a very fine football team in all three phases.”

On ranking the 49ers offensive line:

“I’d say this is the best offensive line, no disrespect to any other teams, but this is the best offensive line we’ve faced all year. They’re big, they’re physical. They want to run the football. They do a great job formationally around the core five offensive linemen. At the end of the day, those five guys are going to have to win the line of scrimmage and they do a very nice job.”

On the pass rush against Seattle:

“We didn’t pass rush as well as we would’ve liked. There were some plays that were extended, but we were able to get some pressure on the quarterback. I think we had two sacks, I often say sacks are overrated. It’s about affecting the quarterback and disrupting the timing of the route. I think that’s going to be important again this week.”

On how seeing athletic quarterbacks this season will help the team prepare:

“I think it helps us because we’ve had the experience in terms of putting together a game plan. Colin has got some very good long speed. I think that was evident in his 57 yard run in the game Saturday night. He is very impressive. He’s long and he can take up a lot of ground when he’s running when he gets in the open. It’s going to be very important for us to be disciplined in our defensive assignments when you’re facing that kind of offense.”

On the 49ers defense being very similar to Dallas’ defense:

“You have to put together a different game plan for a 3-4 team than a 4-3. They all create issues, but there are similar things that we have to be able to do and things we’re going to have to be able to handle structurally when you’re facing a 3-4 team. The two outside linebackers that we’re playing are outstanding players, especially LB Aldon Smith with the 19.5 sacks. We’re going to have to make sure we’re aware of where he aligns. Most of the time he’s going to align on our left side, but that’s not for sure. We have to make sure we have him accounted for. He and DT Justin Smith work so well together when they’re in their sub package on our left side.”

On being the best linebacking core the Falcons have faced all year:

“Yes. You’ve got two Pro Bowlers in the middle. Aldon Smith is a Pro Bowler on the outside and LB Ahmad Brooks has had an outstanding year. He’s their number two pass rusher in terms of production, he is a big, strong outside linebacker. Coach Fangio does a very good job of playing to their strengths.”

On C Todd McClure:

“Todd has experienced a lot of football games and a lot of football snaps. He’s the leader of our offensive line. He was elected a permanent captain. We voted on that last week and I think you may have seen the guys that were wearing the C’s on their jerseys. Todd does a very good job, not only on their offensive line, but in our locker room. You have to have guys like him to be successful and to have a successful team.”

On last week possibly being an anomaly for Kaepernick:

“I think he’s going through a maturation process and I think their offensive staff has done a very good job of playing to his strengths. You can see each week that they’re adding more to his repertoire, and he’s done a very good job. If you don’t account for him in the run game you can see what happens. That was an example last week when he rushed for 187 yards.”

On their special teams:

“Two outstanding return men. WR Tedd Ginn Jr., he returns punts, has had success through his career in terms of running the ball back for touchdowns. RB LaMichael James has done a very nice job on their kickoff returns. As I mentioned earlier, he is one of the top five tailbacks in terms of speed if you go by their combine 40 times. He’s got great speed. He hits it and gets it. Their kicker through his career has been an outstanding kicker and I think their punter, Lee, does a very nice job. He’s got a very strong leg and he can flip the field.”

On whom he would compare Kaepernick to the most:

“I think that he is probably closer to QB Cam Newton because his size and his stature. He’s a big, tall guy and once he gets going he’s hard to catch. When he starts to stride it out, I think you can see he can run away from defenders and when I say defenders you can see he can run away from defensive backs like he did in the game on Saturday night.”

On the importance of possessing the ball:

“Time of possession is one of the markers that we look at in terms of what we have to do in most games to win. It’s going to be important for us to be efficient on the offensive side of the football and not give their offense the opportunities and snaps to try and score. It’s going to be important. I think they probably want to do the same thing. They’ll want to win the time of possession to keep the ball out of the hands of our offense.”

On drawing on past experiences to try and get the team to balance the excitement:

“Our goal every week is the same. We don’t want to be underprepared and we don’t want to be overworked. We want to make sure that we’re just right at three o’clock. We do lean on guys that have experienced it. Through the week, I know there will be guys going down to see guys in the locker room and talk to them. I know the guys that have had that experience in the playoffs are talking to our young guys. We’ve got to approach this like any other game. We’ve got to prepare and go through the offense like we started today. We’ve finished our Wednesday off and tomorrow we’ll flip over and get into our normal Thursday practice. We want to try and keep it as normal as possible. Obviously, with all you folks here you can’t be as normal as we would like it to be.”

On how he feels reaching this point:

“Our football team has grown and matured since we first got here. There are a number of guys that have been with us the whole time. There are some guys that are four year guys and three year guys, and I think that’s a tribute to Thomas [Dimitroff] and his staff and providing us with the players that it takes to be successful. We’re very fortunate to have won a lot of football games and we’re really going to look forward to this game on Sunday against the San Francisco 49ers. We know what’s at stake when we play this game once it’s kicked off.”

On how important the fans are this weekend:

“The fans are very important. I think they were a big factor in the ballgame last week. I believe, I was told the decibel level got to 113 there at the Dome. We’re trying to get to 115 this week. I know it was deafening out there on the sideline. It took about a day and a half for me personally to recover and I had earmuffs on, so I can imagine how it was for a lot of folks. The fans have been great. They have been great all season long. They’ve been great since we got here in 2008.”

On the players having a chip on their shoulder:

“We try not to listen to the noise outside of the building. It’s impossible. Every one of our players has a cell phone and iPad, so it’s impossible not to hear it. I tell them all the time that we have to focus on the things that we have control of. That’s going through the preparation each and every week. If it happens to be that guys have a chip on their shoulder, they have chip on their shoulder. Our focus has to be on preparing for a good football team in the San Francisco 49ers.”

Quarterback Matt Ryan
On today’s practice:

“I thought it was a good practice. Wednesday is obviously a very important day for us to start installing our game plan and go through the things we want to do this weekend. I thought it was good, we got off to a good start.”

On San Francisco’s defensive front:

“When you turn on the film you see a really good defense. They are solid. They have six Pro Bowlers on defense that are extremely talented. They play as hard and as physical as anybody in the League. I think you see that when you turn on the film and I think they’re very sound in their scheme. They do what they do and they show up week in and week out. They do a lot of the same things week in and week out but they do them very well.”

On the challenge San Francisco’s Pro Bowl safeties present:

“Both of those guys do a great job, [S Dashon] Goldson and [S Donte] Whitner. They come down in the run game and are physical. They do a great job in the passing game as well, both playing up high and then coming down and cutting crossing routes. I’ve been very impressed with both of those guys on film. They’re aggressive and have great range and cover a lot of ground. Their scheme allows them to make plays in the secondary. They change up their coverages and move both those guys around pretty well.”

On how San Francisco has developed as a team since their last meeting with Atlanta two years ago:

“They’re definitely different. Personnel-wise they’ve got some similar guys to what we faced a couple of years ago, but schematically they’re different than when we played them last time.”

On whether there is a defensive scheme the Falcons’ offense cannot handle:

“I think that, in terms of scheme, and blitzes and those kinds of things, we’ve got a veteran group of guys who have certainly seen a lot of different looks. There is always times where they might catch you a little confused and it’s just about how you react in those situations. For the most part, I think we’ve done a pretty good job of that all year. Then, it’s about adjusting to it on the sideline and that’s another thing that I think we’ve done a good job of doing all year. I’m sure they’ll have a wrinkle or two for us when we get out there and they’ll start playing it situationally and maybe they’ll have some different things from what they’ve shown the last couple of weeks, but apart from the course that’s what you see every week.”

On how LB Aldon Smith compares to other pass rushers he has faced this year:

“Aldon Smith is a talented player. He has his own unique skill set. I think he has the most sacks, I’m not sure, but I think he has the most sacks in the League the last two years. He plays tandem with Justin Smith. Those two guys really play well with each other. They do a great job with their defensive line stunts in terms of creating a free rusher. I think the thing that’s interesting that they do with Aldon too is that he drops out and gets into coverage a little bit too and he does a great job with that. He’s an extremely versatile player and certainly somebody that we’re going to have to be aware of where he is on the field on Sunday.”

On how he is able to maintain his poise in pressure situations and how he got the name ‘Matty Ice’:

“I think that started when I was in high school in the locker room, really when I was a freshman it just kind of stuck. For no particular reason it was just kind of out of the blue, I guess it sounded cool. I must have done something during Junior Varsity football back when I was a freshman in high school, but honestly nothing happened that was really that crazy. In terms of keeping my poise, I think that now that I’ve been in the league for five years you learn that it’s difficult week in and week out during an NFL game. You just need to keep playing and stay focused on going out there and trying to execute as best you can. If you’re worrying about all of the other things that I think everyone else is worrying about while they’re watching the games you’re taking away from what you need to do. It’s not just myself; collectively as a team we’ve done a great job of it all year. Regardless of how games shake out we continue to battle, continue to play as best we can and continue to fight. When you have guys that have that kind of mentality it gives you a chance every week.”

On his on field chemistry with C Todd McClure:

“Todd has been huge for my career here in Atlanta. He’s a guy that doesn’t get enough recognition. In all honesty, my first two years here, in terms of pass protection, Todd carried me, he really did. He set every protection, he got us on the right page, and he kept me clean and helped me out immensely. He’s a consummate professional, he really is. He’s extremely well prepared week in and week out; he gives it everything he has. He’s a guy I look up to on how to handle your business and be a good teammate, and what it takes to have yourself prepared, those kinds of things. I’ve looked up to him since I’ve been here and he’s certainly meant a lot to me.”

On McClure’s offseason contract signing:

“We keep in touch during the offseason. I remember he sent out a mass-text when he re-signed back in the summer to most of the guys. Everybody was fired up and excited that he was going to be back. He’s a great teammate, he really is. He’s a great person, a great teammate, and a great leader for our football team.”

On ‘breaking through the bubble’ and getting that first playoff win:

“I think it’s a good thing to get that first win out of the way, for sure. There are a lot of other things that you have to answer and things that can be distracting. I think that everyone did a great job of not letting it distract us, but it can be distracting. I think at this point it’s just more of getting into our routine of week-to-week normal stuff and normal questions you have to answer and getting ourselves ready to go out and play. I think if we keep that mindset and stay loose, we’ve been loose all year and we were loose last week, but if we continue to do that then I think that will bode well for us.”

On TE Tony Gonzalez’s emotions after getting the first playoff win of his career:

“He’s very similar to what he’s like every week. Tony is just another guy; he’s a consummate professional. He shows up every week, he handles his business; he’s fun to be around, he’s got a great personality in the locker room and he’s just been himself this week.”

On how the season ends could impact Gonzalez’s decision to retire:

“I talk to him about that all the time. He says he’s 95% sure and I keep telling him that I’m convinced of the other five percent. I think he can still play. Whatever he chooses to do, it’s been an unbelievable run for him and I’m just so happy to have been a part of it for as long as I have.”

On how he has been able to rest dealing with the pressure of the NFC Championship game:

“I’m sleeping great. I feel really good, I really do. I worked really hard this offseason to try and get into good condition and I have worked hard throughout the year to stay as fresh as I possibly can. My body feels great, and obviously mentally I think that if you can’t be fresh and ready to roll at this time then you’ve got something wrong with you. Everybody, including myself, mentally is 100% there.”

On how his career has progressed since being labeled as a three star prospect out of high school:

“I thought it was pretty good in high school, if you’re ranked in the top 25 it’s not too bad. Again, it’s one of those things that I never really thought too much about it. I was excited to have had the opportunity to get a scholarship to go to Boston College and I just tried to make the most of my opportunity.”

On whether he feels any vindication based on his completion percentage on deep balls:

“No, because I always had confidence in myself. I knew that no matter what was asked or what was being said that we had the capability of getting it done and to be a little bit better at it. I think that there are a few areas that we’ve improved on this year and I think that’s one of them.”

On getting back into a ‘normal routine’ despite being on an abnormal stage:

“It’s a little different, you just have to be able to adjust. It’s still the same people asking questions we’re just in a different location. It’s just a little bit different schedule but that’s part of the deal. You adjust and you work through it and it’s not that big of a deal.”

On whether he feels any differently now that he has won his first playoff game:

“I feel the same as I did last week. When you walk in and you turn on the film on a Monday or a Tuesday and you’re getting ready to play your next game there’s a whole new laundry list of problems that you need to address. That’s more of where my focus has been and I think that’s where it needs to be.”

On his message to the fans:

“We appreciate their support, they’ve been awesome this year. This past weekend they were awesome in the Dome. They’ve been really, really loud. We might need them to be a little bit quieter when we’re on offense, but they were awesome and excited. It’s been fun to be a part of it and hopefully they can keep it going.”

On what he thinks of when he hears the phrase ‘Rise Up’:

“It reminds me of game day. It reminds me of being at the dome. It sounds weird but one of the first things you hear when you walk in after they check your bags, the security and the attendants at the door yell it and they tell you ‘Rise Up.’ That’s what it reminds me of.”

On the role that new acquisitions played in this year’s success:

“I think that we have a lot of similarities to what we’ve done in the past with getting a lot of the same guys back. Dirk Koetter on offense has done a great job coming in here; I think everybody has enjoyed working with him. He’s added some different things to our offense that have helped us, and I think that’s been important. Mike Nolan on the defensive side of the ball has also done a great job and has our defense playing really, really well. When you look at the addition of CB Asante [Samuel], I think he’s been great for our organization and for our team. He has unbelievable energy day in and day out. He’s fun to be around and I think he’s helped us. Those are just three different pieces to the puzzle this year but certainly three people that have really helped us.”

On the continuity that the team has developed fighting through recent failures:

“I think everything that you go through kind of builds you as a team and as a ‘tribe,’ which is one of the words that [Coach Mike Smith] talked about at the beginning of the year for us. A lot of the times when you go through some tough times and some bumps in the road I think that kind of brings everybody closer together. I think this is a team that is probably mentally tougher than some of the teams that I’ve been a part of. I think everybody has kind of a tougher shell and everyone is a little bit harder than we have been in the past and I think that’s helped us. We gutted through the end of the game last week and we were able to find a way to get it done. That’s kind of been a little bit of our M.O. the entire year. We’ve found different ways to get wins and that’s what’s been the most rewarding and the best part to be a part of is that everybody has contributed.”

On whether the outside media’s take on the team effects their mindset:

“For me, I’m not going to change anything I’ve done the last couple of weeks and that’s been to try and keep everything quiet and not worry too much about what’s being said and what’s being written, those kinds of things. I just want to focus on what I can control and that’s just having myself well prepared, being on top of our game plan and trying to have a really good understanding of the defense that I’m going against. Beyond that, I don’t really worry about what other people think.”

On establishing a running game against San Francisco:

“I think it’s definitely huge. This is a team that, if you become one dimensional, then they can be very scary. You have to be able to run the ball, and the teams that have been successful against San Francisco this year have come out and run the ball. We did that pretty well last week and hopefully it’s something that we can carry over to this week. It’s definitely something that we’re focusing on and it’s going to be an emphasis.”

Center Todd McClure
On what this game means to him personally:

“It’s unbelievable, this is why we play the game. We get paid to play a child’s game and we have fun doing it. To be on a team like this that has an opportunity to play in the Big Dance is unbelievable. We’ve got a great locker room and a fun group to be around. To be able to say that you’re one game away is huge. The stage is great but we know that we have a lot of work to do and we’re ready for it.”

On his on field chemistry with QB Matt Ryan:

“It’s been great. Matt’s been the guy that when he first got here you could tell he was something special. The command he had in the huddle and the way he prepared for ball games was just unbelievable and you knew that he had something early on. I think in any good team that center-quarterback chemistry is huge. You have to be able to communicate and be on the same page. He has to have confidence in us that we’re picking up the right people in protections and know that he can have his back turned and the faith that we’re going to have it picked up. I felt that early in his career I was able to help him out and now he knows where everybody on that field is supposed to be at any given time. That’s why he’s playing at such a high level right now.”

On his personal experience in the NFC Championship Game:

“The reality of this whole thing is that at the end of the year there is only going to be one team holding that trophy up. There are two great games in the NFL going on this weekend. Everybody that plays in this league and that comes into training camp, they play to get this opportunity. I know that everybody in that locker room is going to prepare and do everything they can to go out and get this win. When we went up to Philadelphia a few years back, there’s no better feeling in the world than to know that you’re going up there and if you come away with one more point than the other team then you’re going to play in the Big Dance. That’s why I’m still playing this game; I haven’t been able to do it. I still have fun and I want to have that opportunity, just like every other guy in that locker room.”

On how he felt after losing to Philadelphia in the 2005 NFC Championship game:

“It was bad, as bad as it gets. You know you were so close and you put in so much work to get into that situation but you come up short. It’s not a feeling that everybody wants to experience in that locker room; I know I don’t want to again. We’ve got a challenge this week. San Francisco, especially on defense, is playing unbelievable. They’ve got an unbelievable group of defenders. It’s going to be a challenge but one I think we’re ready for.”

On going through the ups and downs he has experienced during his career in Atlanta:

“You learn a lot as you go along. I definitely feel blessed being in one place with one team my whole career. Not a lot of guys can say that. I haven’t had to move my family across the country and I definitely feel blessed in that situation. I think you learn things along the way that helps build you as a person and as a football player. When things aren’t done right you learn from them and you learn how they should be done. You meet a lot of guys along the way that you develop bonds with. That’s what this game of football is all about. When you go through those bad times, it makes you really appreciate when you’re on good teams and have success.”

On waiting as long as he has for this opportunity:

“As a young rookie I didn’t think I would have to wait this long. Coming in and getting drafted by a team that had just gone to the Super Bowl you think that it’s going to be easy, but it’s not. That’s what I tell the young guys on this team, that we have to take advantage of this opportunity because it’s not a given that you’ll be in this position again next year. We’re going to approach it that way and I’m trying to let the young guys know that you have to earn every bit in this league and we have to earn it this week.”

On what fans can expect from this week’s game:

“We’re going to be ready and be well prepared. I’m not going to sit here and predict anything but we’ve got a good football team that’s coming in. I’d like to say that we’re going to go out and it will be easy for our fans to watch but it’s going to be a good football game. It’s going to be a 60 minute football game and at the end I just hope we have one more point than they do.”

On being a mentally tougher team this year compared to in years passed:

“I think so. I think we’ve got guys that are playing with a lot more confidence and guys that have learned the game, especially on offense. We’ve got guys that can make adjustments out on the field. We know this offense, and I’m speaking for all the positions upfront, out on the edges, and our quarterback. We’ve got guys that are experienced in this system and I feel like we’re playing really well now. Like I said though, we can’t be one-dimensional. We have to get our running game going, that will help open up our passing game and our play action.”

On preparing for San Francisco based on tape from their meetings with Seattle:

“You can take a lot from that game, but you can take a lot from every game. I think we watched clips today from the preseason and there were guys out on the field that, for the majority, won’t be out there on Sunday. There won’t be any stone unturned, we’ll go back and watch every clip we can. When it gets down to it, this group isn’t real fancy up front as far as their scheme goes. That says a lot about their personnel. They’re going to line up in front of you with their base fronts and tell you ‘try and block me’ and that’s going to be a big challenge for us this week.”

On San Francisco having an advantage being in the NFC Championship game last year:

“They’re a good football team. Anytime you play in big games and you have guys that have been in those situations I’m sure it helps. They’re going to come out here ready to play. Like we talked about earlier, they have that feeling of being one game away last year and coming up short. I’m sure that just as I’m sitting here talking to you guys they don’t want to have that feeling again.”

On dealing with the media imposed scrutiny and being underdogs at home as the #1 seed:

“We don’t really use it as motivation. We go in and put in our game plan and can’t listen too much to what’s said outside the locker room. At the end of the year, at the end of this season, we want to be the team that everyone is talking about. Whatever happens between now and then, we don’t get too concerned about it. Right now we’re concerned with going out and executing at a high level on Sunday.”

On G Peter Konz role in the offensive line as a rookie:

“Peter has really been playing well for us. He’s a guy that never seems to be fazed. No matter if the coaches are getting on him hard or he’s had a rough play or he’s playing well, he doesn’t change. I think that for a rookie to play early up front you have to have that kind of mentality. He’s the type of guy that listens. Me and [T Tyson] Clabo and all the guys in there try to give him advice sometimes and he always has an open ear and he’s willing to learn and has really been a big part of our success this year.”

Linebacker Sean Weatherspoon
On the differences in preparing for a read-option quarterback:

“It’s definitely different because the quarterback is athletic. He can run, so that’s something that you have to account for. When you’re studying it, you have to make sure you know what he likes to do, know if he likes to bounce outside or cut up inside and get tough. You got to know when they’re going to throw the ball as well. You have to be able to stop the pass as well, so it poses a challenge because the guy can run and throw.”

On watching 49ers game against the Packers with a group of guys on Saturday night:

“I think some of the guys might have been checking it out. Most of the time guys are in chapel just chilling in the hotel, just relaxing a little bit. I got a chance to watch a little bit of it. They had a great game.”

On QB Colin Kaepernick:

“I was definitely impressed with the way he carried the team. He did a great job of running as well as passing the ball. It’s something that you have to take your hat off to them, but it’s a great challenge and I think we’ll be up for them.”

On how the defense has been affected by what QB Russell Wilson did in the second half:

“That’s last week. That’s the first and foremost thing that you have to do as a defense. You have to have a short memory. We know that we have a different task this week, so that’s the task that we’re getting ready for.  We won’t be too concerned with what happened last week.”

On missing DE John Abraham for the second half:

“You always love to have Abe on the field for every snap. He’s a sack master. That’s what I like to call him. He does a great job here. He’s been doing a great job for us, and we look forward to getting him back this week. I think that the guys that had a chance to play in his absence did a good job of stepping in and doing what they need to do in order for the team to get the win.”

On what he wants to say to the Falcons fans:

“Pack the dome early. Have some fun, and we’ll do our best job to rise up.”

On winning for the veterans on the team:

“Those guys mean a lot to our team. Those guys have been playing for a long time. Great players. Guys that have really made a name for themselves, and when you see them in year 15 or 14 or however many years they’ve been playing you got to take your hat off to those guys. I’m playing for those guys. You want to go out there and do well for them and help them get what they want.”

On stopping RB Frank Gore like the defense stopped RB Marshawn Lynch:

“I think it would be really good for our football team if we control the line of scrimmage on defense. I think that starts with stopping the run like you said. Gore, he’s a tough back. He runs really hard. He has great leverage and I think that’s something that he does really well. That’ll be big for us if we can try to bottle him up.”

On stopping TE Vernon Davis:

“He’s a tough guy. He’s fast. He’s one of the faster tight ends that you’re going to face. You definitely have to know that he’s going to try and take you vertical. You have to be conscious of that. I think you just have to get to the quarterback, too. That’s the thing. You have to help the linebackers out when they’re covering those tight ends running those deep routes. I think we have guys that do a great job of that and they do a great job of helping us. It just goes hand-in-hand. I think getting your hands on Vernon early and disrupt his timing with his quarterback will be big.”

On TE Tony Gonzalez:

“He definitely has the cheat code. When I say the cheat code, it basically means that he has the experience and definitely has the playmaking ability to go out there and make plays on anybody. Going against Tony, it definitely does help you when you’re going against other guys.”

On it taking 16 years to get him his first one:

“It did. Now, we’re trying to get two in two weeks. I think we’re all set to go out there and put together a great game plan and put ourselves in position to do it.”

Please Note

The opinions, analysis and/or speculation expressed on represent those of the individual authors. Unless quoted or clearly labeled as such, do not represent the opinions or policies of the Atlanta Falcons’ organization, front office staff, coaches and executives. The writers’ views are formulated independently from any inside knowledge and/or conversations with Falcons officials, including the coaches and scouts, unless otherwise noted.