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Transcript: Mike Smith Post-Practice Interview

Posted Sep 3, 2012

Head coach Mike Smith says he feels the roster he has this year is a more mature team after going through five NFL Draft classes worth of players

On who is starting at right guard and corner:

“At the end of the game on Sunday, and we’ll see. I’m not going to discuss it simply because I’m not going to give a competitive advantage to our opponent. It’s been a competitive situation not only there, but other positions. We’re working towards that right now in terms of who’s going to be playing where.”

On who the punt returner will be:

“I can’t tell you who our punt returner is going to be either. We’ve got three guys that can do it. We’ll trot that guy out there hopefully on the first series. I don’t mean to be non-transparent, but I don’t think it gives us any advantage to talk about who is going to play in what positions in our opening game.”

On someone being back there that doesn’t have any game experience:

“We spend a whole lot of time on it. Pre-practice we’ve had guys that have caught the ball. In our practice situations, it’s not a pre-requisite especially for a veteran player that’s done it before even if he hasn’t done it in a preseason game. We have no problem at all putting him in there to return punts during the regular season.”

On whom the officials will be:

“The way that we approach it is we can only concern ourselves with stuff that we can control. We’ve got no control over that situation. Our preparation doesn’t change regardless of who is calling the game, and that’s how we have to approach it. I think it’s a waste of energy to even concern ourselves with it.”

On the challenge presented by the more difficult schedule:

“I think all four have been challenging in terms of our schedules. Some schedules look one way at the beginning of the season and can be completely different when you get five or six games into it. It’s challenging early on through the first quarter of the season. We’re going to play three very good quarterbacks that have gone to the Pro Bowl in the first quarter. We break our season down into quarters, and we’ve got three quarterbacks in our first four games that have been to Pro Bowls. I don’t think it’s any more challenging than any other year. There is always the unknown when you start the regular season. Everybody is working on different things in the preseason and trying to put their team together, build their team, and get to a 53-man roster. Now that we’ve done that we’re going to get an opportunity to kick off and play. I know our guys are anxious. We haven’t started our game planning. We’ll start that on Wednesday.”

On some tough decisions on the final roster:

“I’m not going to speak to each one of those positions but there are a number of factors that come into play. Sometimes it’s how you put your roster together and the number of positions that you have allocated for that. Other times, it’s a pure football decision in terms of the evaluation and the play on the field and practice field. We’re going to make our decisions based on what we feel. Thomas and his staff do a great job in preparing our coaches to have a good squad. When you’ve had the success that we’ve had, the more success you have the tougher those decisions are to get to a 53-man roster. By far, this was the toughest year for us as a staff to make those decisions.”

On LS Josh Harris:

“His velocity on the ball is extremely good. He’s a guy that not only on the long snaps but on the short snaps he can get it back very quickly. It’s all about handling times you’re working on splits on how you’re going to get the ball from the center to the holder. On a punt there are certain parameters that we look at, and he’s got very good velocity on his long snaps and short snaps.”

On the final roster being a better team:

“I think we’re better because we’re a more mature team. We’ve gone through five draft classes. When you go through five draft classes, I think you have a nucleus of players that are on your team that you’ve drafted. Your personnel department and coaches have gone through the process of evaluating them. I think it’s a more mature team. We’ve got a lot of guys that have played a lot of football, and even though chronologically they’re young they’ve got a lot of snaps underneath their belt. I think experience is a very important factor especially early in the season.”

On QB Luke McCown:

“He’s behind in terms of the learning curve to learn our offense, even though there are some similarities in terms of what he did with Coach Koetter in Jacksonville. The verbage is somewhat similar, but there are some differences and there are some small nuances that we put in the 2012 Atlanta Falcons playbook, and they’re different than what they’ve done in the past. We’ve got to get him up to speed as quickly as possible. He’s been spending extra time with Coach Thomas and Coach Koetter. Most of the players were off, but we had guys that have been in here the last couple of days and I can assure you Luke has been one of them. He’s working to try and get up to speed as quickly as possible.”

On whether McCown is the second quarterback is:

“I would not answer that question based on giving someone a competitive advantage. I think that Luke’s got the experience to be a number two player in this League and with our team. In terms of right now, who we would go with as the number two quarterback I’m not going to say simply because it does no good for us. It gives our opponent a competitive advantage.”


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