1. Injury Updates: Thursday's practice did not include Julio Jones (hip) and Jon Asamoah (back) for the second-consecutive day. Meanwhile, Harry Douglas (foot), Roddy White (knee) and William Moore (foot) were limited participants at practice. Falcons head coach Mike Smith said it was good to see Douglas, White and Moore back on the field, anticipating to see more from each player on Friday. Moore offered further details about his Thursday workout.
"Today we focused on the mental part of the game," Moore said. "(On Friday) we're going to focus on being more physical and running around a lot more and look to see how I recover the next day. If it were up to me, I wouldn't miss this game for the world. This is what I play for. This is where I want to be. I want to be here and contribute. We have a mission, and we're going to do whatever it takes to get this mission accomplished."
2. White Ready with/without Julio: In the absence of Jones from practice, the team's star wide receiver was not allowed to speak to the media. Thankfully for Jones, his fellow wide receiver Roddy White feels right at home in front of cameras and microphones. The club's all-time leader in career touchdowns talked about preparing for the New Orleans Saints with or without Jones.
"You just have to go out there and play football," White said. "Julio is a big part of our offense, and the things that he does really help us out, but being at the wide receiver position, we just have to go out and execute and play at a high level. I'm ready to go."
3. McClain's Confidence: Falcons cornerback Robert McClain wasn't a starter the last time he faced the Saints in Week 1, picking off quarterback Drew Brees in the team's 37-34 overtime win. Since taking over for injured cornerback Robert Alford (wrist) in Week 12, McClain's confidence continues to build, leading into the team's biggest game of the year.
The Falcons were back on the fields in Flowery Branch on Thursday morning as preparations continued for Sunday's NFC South matchup at New Orleans
"We have to go in there with the mentality that this is going to be our game to win and we're going to execute every single second of the game," McClain said. "Defensively, we don't care what anybody does, our job is to stop Brees and their offense from getting in the end zone."
4. Payton Praises Trufant: New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton raved about Desmond Trufant's abilities via conference call Wednesday, praising the Falcons cornerback for his versatility, confidence and tackling skills. On Thursday, Trufant responded to Payton's words.
"It's all about respect," Trufant said. "That's a big reason I play the game, hoping to earn the respect of my peers. He's obviously a great coach, so to hear that, it's humbling. I'm always trying to get better. I'm always trying to improve. This is just the beginning for me."
5. Super Bowl Potential?: The NFL's all-time leader in return touchdowns (20), Devin Hester became the first player in NFL history to return the opening kickoff of a Super Bowl for a touchdown, doing so for 92 yards against the Indianapolis Colts in Super Bowl XLI. Hester was asked if his current Falcons team has what it takes to reach the Super Bowl like his former Bears team did in 2007.
"Yes," Hester said. "I believe we do. It's a matter of wanting it. A lot of people in different locker rooms say they want it, but they don't show it. When it comes time to play, you have to have the mentality that everybody is playing for each other."