From key matchups to the return of key players, keep an eye on these storylines heading into the season-opener against the New Orleans Saints.
Here are some of the top quotes by the Atlanta Falcons players from another open locker room session with the media:
- Not having played in a regular season game since Week 5 of the 2013 season, Falcons WR Julio Jones kicked off his media session with thoughts of being back in the fold: "I'm just happy to be back, being healthy and able to just go out there and play in the regular season again," Jones said. "I feel great, right now. I feel 100%." Jones also described the Saints defense. "They're a great defense. First of all, their line will get pressure on your QB and they're very athletic in the secondary; we just have to pick our spots and connect on them."
- As fellow Falcons star WR Roddy White enters his 10th regular season, he was asked if he'd rather be facing a different opponent than the NFC South rival New Orleans Saints: "No," White said. "I think last year was perfectly fine, when we had to go to New Orleans, right off the bat; it kind of speeds up the tempo at practice. Everybody's locked in and you need that kind of focus in Week 1. Since we knew we'd be playing the Saints, everything has been zoom-focused. Everybody has been on time and getting in extra work, preparing for this game."
- If the Falcons WRs are going to make plays, their QB Matt Ryan will need protection up-front; Falcons T Lamar Holmes is ready to put the lessons he's learned in the last year to full use on Sunday: "I know more than what I knew last season," Holmes said. "I gained some wisdom from last season; I had some ups and downs last season, but I've been able to build from last year to this year and now that we have (Falcons OL) coach (Mike) Tice, I'm building on it even more and I feel good, going into this season."
- The Falcons welcome back wide receiver/special teams star Eric Weems, who played with the team from 2007-2011. Weems knows exactly what to expect when the NFC South rivalry continues on Sunday. "I anticipate it to be loud and crazy, especially with the Saints coming to town, since they're our rival," Weems said. "I expect it to be electrifying and crazy. We just have to do our job and take care of our business."
- One of the many buzz words around the Falcons team facility this week has been pressure, as in getting in the face of New Orleans Saints QB Drew Brees, bothering him as much as possible. Falcons LBs Joplo Bartu spoke more about the crucial task of trying to fluster Brees. "Getting pressure on him is one way to have success against Brees," Bartu said. "He likes to look off the defenders; we have to put pressure on him, get to him and hopefully disrupt that a little bit."
- Any defensive coordinator you ask in the NFL will tell you that getting off the field after third downs is paramount to success, including Falcons DC Mike Nolan. Among his team's defense, second-year LB Paul Worrilow highlighted keys to success on third down against the Saints. "It's going to start in the run game," Worrilow said. "When you do a good job stopping the run, you're going to set up third downs where we have the advantage, third-and-longs, third-and-10s; so, that's going to be huge and at that point, it's just about making plays, executing the play called and getting pressure on the QB."