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Quotable: Head Coach Mike Smith


Q: Can you assess how Hunter Hillenmeyer is doing as a replacement?A. "Well, Hillenmeyer is questionable as well. They are actually playing with Nick Roach. Hillenmeyer had hurt ribs and was held out of practice so we're not really sure who will be playing as linebacker. They have a very deep group of linebackers. They are very physical and that front seven is very strong."

Q. How do you think Pisa Tinoisamoa is doing?
A. "Lance Briggs has been a Pro Bowl player. Pisa knows Lovie's (Smith) system. He played for St. Louis and is a very athletic linebacker."

Q. How has that defense evolved? I'm sure they have some tweaks.
A. "They sure do and they're based out of a cover-two shell but they also are a pressure team. Lovie has done a very nice job with their blitz package and I think it's very diverse with what they do. I think that they are a team that likes to come after you. When they're not coming after you, then they're playing the old typical Tampa 2 coverage that he knows so well from his time with Monte Kiffin in Tampa Bay."

Q. Lovie Smith said he noticed you change your approach and were blitzing more. Is that something you did in the evaluation period during the bye week?
A. "We're going to put a game plan together each week based on what gives us the best chance to win. Some weeks they'll be more blitzes than others. It really depends on what we want to accomplish and how things match up. Not only at wide receiver, but also at offensive line and running back. It's just part of putting our game plan together."

Q. With Jay Culter's ability to extend the play and his mobility, what do you have to guard against that?
A. "With Jay, I think he's very similar to the guy that went to the Pro Bowl with him last year from Pittsburgh. He can extend the plays with his feet and it's going to be important for us to be very disciplined in our rush lanes. It's also going to be very important for our secondary and linebackers. They're going to have to cover longer because he can extend the play. A normal play goes four to six seconds. There are some plays that go seven, eight, or nine seconds because of his ability and the strength that he has to throw the ball even when people are on him. It's going to be important that the mental clock in our heads knows that we've got to keep playing because he can throw the ball. He has a strong enough ball to throw it deep."

Q. Any concern over Michael Turner's three fumbles? He only had five in his career coming into the season.
A." No concern whatsoever. I'm sure Michael is disappointed about it, but that's part of the game. When you have the number of carries that Michael has, there are going to be times that they're going to get a shot on the ball. That's something that not only Michael has to work on, but we're going to have to work on as an offensive unit. We've got to keep our guys away form the ball carrier. That includes offensive linemen and wide receivers. I don't think fumbles are one guy. I think we have blockers that are blocking those guys that are trying to make the tackle. We have to do our job as well."

Q. Can we have an Ovie Mughelli update?
A. "Ovie is still in the training room. Hopefully we're going to get him out here tomorrow to see if he's going to be ready to go but he is still in the training room getting treatment."

Q. Do you have a hard fast rule if you don't make it Wednesday and Thursday?
A. "No, I do not have a hard fast rule. We would like for our guys to get out here and practice but I think we have to look at each one of those situations individually when we put our 45-man roster together. "

Q. Are you making it more difficult to prepare for Chicago's quarterback?
A. "Most definitely. When you have a guy like Jay that has a strong arm, a physical stature, and he can run the football it's very difficult. As I mentioned, we have to be very good with our rush lanes and we have to be disciplined on the back end, in terms of the timing of the plays. Jay is a very good player. He went to the Pro Bowl last year and it's going to be a very big challenge for us. He's playing very well in the fourth quarter. He's had two comeback drives for his team to win. Besides the first quarter of the first game, I think his quarterback rating was over 105."

Q. You lost one home game, and he was the quarterback. Any thoughts on that?
A. "Not really. That was to the Denver Broncos, and now we're playing the Chicago Bears. He's an outstanding quarterback. We're going to have our hands full. We're excited about the challenge to go and play a good Chicago team. "

Q. To flash back to the Chicago game last year, that was Matt Ryan's coming of age moment. You saw you're team grow from that. What about the time between then and now. Have you seen an evolution in some of these guys?
A. "We're a different team. We have a lot different personnel and they're a different team. They have a new quarterback, a couple of new wide receivers and three new offensive linemen. It's always good to think about the successes that you've had in the past, but in our mind it really doesn't have any bearing on this ball game."

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