Q: Do you weigh the merits of an early session bye week?
A: "This is the first time that I have had one this early. We are approaching it a little bit different than what we would if it was mid-point of the season. We are going to work two days. We had a good (practice) this morning and then we are going to come back and do it again tomorrow. Then the players will be off on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. They'll come back on Monday and get an extra practice. The players will be off on Tuesday like they normally are, and then we will be into our game week. This is the earliest (bye week) that I have ever been involved with."
Q: What would you do differently during a mid-season bye week?
A: "We would probably only practice one day or none depending on how deep into the season it is."
Q: If it were later on during the week, you would probably have more guys banged up wouldn't you?A: "Yes, most definitely. We are resting some of our guys that are over thirty today. We keep them on the same schedule that we do during the regular season."
Q: Your self-evaluation is an on-going process, but you have a little more time now than you would normally have if you didn't have a bye week. Is that the benefit that you hope to get out of an early bye week?
A: "Well yes, we are evaluating scheme. The tough thing is this early, you don't have a lot of statistical analysis, but we can evaluate our players and evaluate their performances and our performances as coaches. We are not going to get the statistical analysis that we would get if we had eight games to look at what we are doing well and what we need to improve on."
Q: You mentioned on Monday that the run game is a cornerstone of what you guys do around here, but hasn't quite been as effective as you would like. Obviously after last year, I would assume (the run game) would be the focus of other teams. How much of it is what the other team is doing and how much of it is what you guys could improve on?A: "Well, I think it's really all about us in terms of how we look at it. We feel like we should be able to run the ball and we should be able to stop the run. That's something that we haven't done as well on both sides (of the ball) and that's something that we are going to address. People are going to try and defend us in different ways and each week it's going to be different and we have to be able to improvise and adjust to how people are going to defend us. In regards to our running game, that is something that we want to do better."
Q: You haven't had Jerious (Norwood), how much has that hurt?A: "When we don't have players, we are not going to use that as an excuse. We have to deal with the players that are available and healthy because injuries are a part of this game. We need to function better as a unit – offensive line, wide receivers, running backs – we all have to function as a unit and I think that we will get going. We are real close on a number of plays of breaking some long ones. They'll start to come. I don't have any doubt because the guys have worked very hard."
Q: Do you have a number that you shoot for when it comes to yards per carry?A: "We really don't. We want to run the ball effectively and we want to get the ball in manageable situations. We'd like to have four yards or more. If it doesn't happen and we have a couple of 15 or 20-yard runs, we like the result there."
Q: Is (Michael) Turner's weight where you guys would like it?A: "He is at the same place that he was last year. There is no change in (his weight)."
Q: It seems as though you guys are having more of a training camp style week?A: "Yes, that is exactly what we are doing. We are working a practice schedule that we worked in training camp. We felt that it is important for us to get back and work against each other. It gives us a chance to evaluate some of our younger players that haven't necessarily gotten as many snaps as some of the older players, so it gives us a chance to evaluate them in these two practices."
Q: Do you think Michael Turner is running like he did last year? Is there anything that you would like to see him do different?A: "I think that Michael has run the ball very hard. That was a great season last year and all of our intentions are to try and duplicate it again this year."
Q: Looking around the League the past couple of days, a lot of teams are going for it on fourth down now. What do you make of that trend?
A: "Well it's a risk reward and it depends on where, when and how you feel. If you feel like you have a play held back that you think is going to work, than you pull it out. If it's a situation late in the game and you feel like you have to go for it to keep yourself in the game, than you go for it. But it is risk reward, and I think that it really depends on the flow of the game, how you feel and how confident you are with your offense."
Q: Comments on how Eric Weems has performed on kickoff returns.A: "I can't say enough about what Eric has done. He has stepped in and done a very good job in the past two ball games returning kicks. When Jerious (Norwood) went down, he stepped in and he averaged almost 28 yards. He catches the ball and he gets going north and south. I think that that is another weapon for us on our drive starts. If they are not kicking it into the end zone seven or eight yards deep and putting the ball on the 20-yard line, we feel confident with Eric and Jerious, so I think we have two guys that can help us in that regard."
MORE FROM THE BYE WEEK:
NOTEBOOK:Weems getting credit for success * TRANSCRIPT:Head Coach Mike Smith talks about the bye week * QUOTABLE:Players talk about the bye week plans * BEAT BLOG:What They're Saying | Three-and-Out * J. MIKE'S MISSIVES:Thoughts on the bye from J. Michael Moore * VIDEO:Head Coach Mike Smith | Ryan | Mughelli | White * COMMUNITY:Area YMCA renamed for Falcons Owner and CEO