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Quotable: Head Coach Mike Smith


Q. How was practice today?
A. "We introduced them to Tampa Bay. We're familiar with these guys because we played them about a month ago. I thought it was a very focused day."

Q. Their defense seems to be stepping up down the stretch. Are you anticipating a tough battle against them?
A. "Very tough. I think the last four weeks they've played as well as anybody in the League. They won two in a row, both on the road. The went to Seattle and had a big when, then last week they won in overtime against New Orleans. I think they are playing very inspired football on defense. They're running the football, attacking the line of scrimmage, and doing some really good things."

Q. Cadillac Williams had a lot of injuries but it looks like he's running back in the form. Are you seeing that also?
A. "Yes, very much so. Cadillac I thought ran the ball extremely well last week against the really good Saints defense. I think they'll want to come in and try to run the football against us. They're going to play the play-action stuff and try to get the ball into the hands of number 82 (Kellen Winslow) and 89 (Antonio Bryant)."

Q. Have you seen any growth in rookie quarterback Josh Freeman over the last few games?
A. "Very much so. He's a big guy that's got the skills set to throw the football, and I think he's learning from week to week. He put up a bunch of yards in a couple of those ball games. He had a couple of throws that he'd like to have back and he shows that he learns from it the next week."

Q. What's your process of determining the kickoff situation?
A. "Right now our situation is that we brought in Steve (Hauschka). Matt (Bryant) is still out of town. Matt will be back in here tomorrow and we'll see how Matt's feeling. We brought Steve in here to for insurance to give us options. We'll really have a lot better idea once we see Matt when he get's back here."
Q. Do you expect Tony Gonzalez to play this weekend?
A. "We certainly hope so. We held Tony out, just like we held Matt out for precautionary reasons and we're hoping he'll get out there before Saturday."

Q. What about Michael Turner?
A. "Michael Turner we held out today. We didn't even bring him out on the field, he was working in the training room. We'll have to see where he is as the week progresses."

Q. Do you think this season has gone by fast?
A. "It goes fast. You put your head down as a coach and as a player, and it seems like it was just July 30th and we were starting training camp. Here we are down to our last game."

Q. Do the guys know what's at stake?
A. "These guys know that we've got to go out and play well this week. I talk to them all the time about going out there and playing their best. The other thing that we talk about, is we want to become a team that sustains good play and also be a team that's relevant every year. When you're a relevant team, you're having winning seasons. I think it's very, very important for us as a football team to reach some of the goals we want to long term and hope that we play well this weekend."

Q. In regards to the Pro Bowl, do you think Tony Gonzalez got robbed?A. "I think that we had a number of players, not just Tony, that put in good individual performances all through the season. Unfortunately, we didn't get a guy chosen to represent our team."

Q. Do you think it was jealousy? The fans represented him, but the coaches and players did not.A. "I didn't look at the fan voting, but I think Tony had an outstanding year."
Q. Do you think it would be helpful in this game to get off to a strong start?
A. "I think it would be very helpful. I think anytime you start fast, you can get your opponent back on your heels. I think that we had an excellent start last week. I think it's going to be very, very important for us to go out and start fast against these guys. Like I said, I think they're playing as well as anybody in the League right now, especially defensively. I think they're playing with a lot of confidence, and a lot of energy. Any time two NFC South teams get together it's usually going to be a hard fought game and we're anticipating that."


SCOUTING REPORT:The Falcons have a date with history against Bucs * FALCONCAST:J. Mike and Matt preview the Falcons-Bucs game * MULTIMEDIA:Video interviews and highlight videos from Falcons-Bucs * J. MIKE'S MISSIVES:More on the Falcons from the Managing Editor * GAMEDAY LIVE:More pregame coverage and ingame features from * GAME CENTER:Stats and more in the Game Center * WHAT TO WATCH:Some key aspects of the game to keep your eye on * NOTES AND NUMBERS:Interesting facts and numbers for Falcons-Bucs * EXPERT'S TAKE:Thoughts on the NFL playoff picture from Clark Judge * TRANSACTIONS:Falcons place Dahl and Houston on injured reserve * TRANSCRIPTS:Smith Monday | Wednesday | Thursday * QUOTABLE:Falcons talk about Bucs in Wednesday open locker room

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