Q: How did practice go today?
A: "Well it was good. We had to come inside. The wind was blowing so hard that our towers for filming, it wasn't safe for our film guys. So we had to move inside here and work inside the indoor facility."
Q: Can we get an update on Matt?
A: "Matt worked with the trainers today and did some things. He actually got out on the field and did some things in our walk through, participated in our walk through this morning. We'll see where he's at tomorrow. Hopefully we can advance this and when we get some good signs we will let you guys know."
Q: Were you testing to see how Matt's toe was feeling?
A: Definitely with the injuries, all our guys, we don't want to put them out there and go full speed right away. We want to test the waters and see what happens. He worked some today and hopefully there will not be a lot of residual and we will see where he's at tomorrow."
Q: Are you still as encouraged as you were Monday?
A: "I am very encouraged. The reason I say that is I'm a positive thinker and I'm very encouraged that Matt wants to get back. He's worked extremely hard with the people in our athletic performance and training room and that's our mindset, to try get him back here as quick as we can."
Q: How is Michael Turner?
A: "Michael didn't participate today. He's a guy who's going to be day-to-day as well. Hopefully we can get him out here tomorrow and do some things. Todd McClure didn't participate as well today nor did Harvey Dahl. Justin Peelle, as we announced yesterday, is out for the game this weekend and didn't participate in practice today, nor did Chris Houston. So those are the guys who didn't participate. We had some other guys who we limited their snaps."
Q: What are your thoughts on the Saints? Are they the best team in the NFL?
A: "I don't think that there's any doubt that they're the best team in the NFL. Offensively with Drew Brees they're No. 1 in yards, No.1 in points. They're throwing the ball about as affectively as I've ever seen anybody. He's on cue with all of his receivers. It's just not one or two. They all seem to be running precise routes. He was 35 out of 40 in the ballgame on Sunday that tells you how they're throwing the football. And of course, their running game is in the top five, maybe No. 6, in the league with their three running backs. On the other side of the ball, even though statistically they're not one of the top defenses in the league, they do lead the league in takeaways. They've had 36 turnovers and I believe seven of them have been returned for touchdowns. They're very opportunistic so it's going to be important that we take care of the ball. We want to eliminate the explosive plays that the offense has created. They are No. 1 in terms of creating explosive plays with 33. This is a very good football team, but it's an NFC South game and my experience in the two years that I've been here is that when you play an NFC South oppponent it's going to be a hard-fought game. For the most part it ends up being very, very close and goes right down to the wire."
Q: How is your team's attitude?
A: "The attitude's very good. We came in on Monday and as I told the guys in the locker room after the game we're going to try to get the game out as quick as we can. On Monday I asked them to, it was raining outside, and I said I want you to be like a windshield wiper on your car, just swish it and have it go away. That's how we approached it and we came in here today and started our installation with New Orleans. We have some familiarity with them since it was about a month ago that we played. The guys came in here and worked very hard today."
Q: Do you sense some testiness from some of the guys on the offensive line?
A: "I think that's a real good thing in terms of you want guys to be disappointed in the way the last six or seven ballgames have gone. And I feel the edge, we all feel it. We're all ornery, not just the players, not just the offensive line, the coaches, we haven't gotten the outcomes that we've wanted over the last six or seven weeks. But, we're committed to these last four games and taking them one game at a time. We feel like if we'll do that and we get the outcomes we'll like, we will see where we are at at the end of the season."
Q: What about Jason Rader. He said he made a promise to be ready if you all needed him in Week 2 or Week 17?
A: "... We've had a lot of opportunities to have talks in my office because he's been on and off our roster over the past two years. He understands his role. When we released him we talked about staying in shape. He knows our system; he knows our scheme. He's very familiar with it and when it's time to bring somebody in at that position he was a guy that we'd want to bring in. We were lucky and fortunate that no other team had picked him up. Jason's a very solid player and has had some productive games."
Q: With respect to the explosive plays how much of that is missed assignments?
A: "Well I think that explosive plays are normally one of four things. Usually three of the four are on the defensive players. Very rarely do you see a great throw and a great catch. It's usually either a mental error, a missed tackle or poor leverage. Those are the three things that usually contribute to an explosive play and right now we're not handling the explosive plays. We're 31st in the league in terms of giving up explosive plays. It's something that we've been working on and trying to address all season long and it's something that we haven't gotten fixed."
Q: Smitty don't you feel like it's something that is correctable?
A: "Oh without a doubt. When you start talking about missed tackles, missed leverage or a missed assignment, all three of those things are correctable. Sometimes it's just getting out there and not being comfortable with the guys you're playing with, especially when it comes to leverage. You have to know that that guy's going to be coming inside-out if you're coming outside-in. You have to work together. You're not the only guy out there playing, there are 11 other guys and it all fits together."
Q: Is it safe to say opponents have done a good job exploiting the sidelines, the perimeters of the defense? Is that a real problem or is it more complex than that?
A: "Well I think anytime you have explosive plays a lot of times they are on the sideline. Simply because there are not as many players out there, when you're in the middle of the field you have more players that can make the tackle. I would say percentage wise more plays on the perimeter go for longer yardage because there's not as many players out there."
MORE FALCONS-SAINTS COVERAGE:
MULTIMEDIA:Falcons-Saints video interviews and features * WHAT TO WATCH:Key stats and information to get you ready for gameday * GAME INFORMATION:Important fan information for Sunday's game * J. MIKE'S MISSIVES:News updates and thoughts from the AF.com managing editor * THE BEAT BLOG:Additional Falcons news and injury updates from John Manasso * INJURY REPORT:Injury updates on the Falcons and Saints, presented by Piedmont Healthcare * TRANSACTION:Falcons make early-week roster moves | Bergeron back on practice squad * PREVIEW PACK:More game info and stats from the Football Communications Staff * FALCONS LIVE:Mike Smith and Lawrence Sidbury talk with Wes and Dave * TRANSCRIPTS:Wednesday Locker Room | Smith Wednesday | Smith Monday * USA FOOTBALL:Gonzalez named to first All-Fundamentals Team