Q: What are your thoughts as you try to get ready for this week?
A: "I'm just going to prepare like I'm going to kick in the game. I have no idea what's going to happen and the coaches really don't know either. I'm just going to prepare to the best of my ability and get ready to play on Sunday."
Q: What have you been doing to stay sharp?
A: "I've been off for a few weeks here without a team, but I have been kicking a lot. I've stayed sharp and I've been working with my kicking coach so I'm ready to go."
Q: What's in the kicker's bible about how to go about staying sharp?
A: "Just stay true to yourself and use the same technique that you have used the whole time."
Q: What are your thoughts on this season?
A: "We want it to end on a good note. Putting three games back-to-back and really one of the only goals that we've got is to finish with a winning season. That in turn will put the back-to-back winning seasons in place and that will be huge."
Q: A lot of guys got banged up in the last game with the Bucs. Do you think this team is healthier this time around?
A: "You look at that defense and they're playing really well. Ever since they played us in that game and they switched to their old scheme their defense has been playing really well. It's going to be a challenge for us going to their place. It's always good when you've got your starters in there, but like I said they're a good team and it's going to be a challenge for us. I think we can go down there and get a win."
Q: Is it better to play for something in that last game?
A: "I think it's good, but you watch this team over the past couple of weeks. We knew we were out of the playoffs, but everybody gave it everything they had and put together two wins. I know everybody will be ready to play, but of course, playing against Tampa or someone in your division, that adds a little extra to it."
Q: How do you prepare for this last game?
A: "You prepare like every game, like we've been doing all season. This game means a lot to us. We want to finish this season with a winning record. We're going to go out and practice hard this week and end this season on a good note."
Q: What do you think this season has been like for the Falcons defense?
A: "This is the NFL. You know that people are going to get hurt and you've got to deal with injuries. That's what makes a team good, they deal with adversity. We come out and compete. People are getting hurt and we know that's part of the game, but we just put that behind us and prepare all week and get ready for the game."
Q: Did Tony Gonzalez get robbed in the Pro Bowl voting?A: "I didn't even know that. If he didn't go, he definitely got robbed, but it's like that sometimes."
Q: What about guts on the defense as well?
A: "I haven't seen the Pro Bowl voting yet so I don't know. We've got some people that probably could've gotten some consideration, but if it didn't work out for them they've got to come back next year and work hard and try to do it next year."
Q: Has this season been up to expectations based on your play?
A: "There have been ups and downs this season. I'm just going through and trying to get better every week."
Q: Do you feel slighted?
A: "A little bit. I expected to make it, but we aren't doing what we did last year. We aren't going to the playoffs. All the guys that made it are going to the playoffs, so they're doing a pretty good job out there. Congratulations to those guys."
Q: Tony Gonzalez said not making it can be motivation for next season, are you using that as motivation for next season?
A: "Yes, it's a lot of motivation for me. I figure that next year I need to lead the league in receiving to get to the Pro Bowl from now on, so that's going to be my goal."
Q: I remember last year you said you were going to the Pro Bowl and you did.
A: "That's going to be my motivation, not making it this year. Going out there and performing each and every week at a high level and hopefully I get it done next year. I thought about it and when I saw that Tony didn't make it I was like wow. If that guy can't make it to the Pro Bowl we should eliminate the Pro Bowl, we should just do something else. He might make it to the All-Pro Team."
Q: What's your New Years resolution?
A: "A winning season, that's my New Year's resolution right there. We need a winning season. We need to go down to Tampa and get it done. It's going to mean a lot for our owner and things like that. We've got to go out there and play hard and get us a win."
Q: The locker room does sense the importance of this game from the ownership and community?
A: "Oh yeah. Everybody's tuned in and everybody wants to win this game for our community, our organization and our owner, the man who writes the checks. We've got to go out there and do what we're supposed to do and find a way to get a win."
Q: How would you describe this season?
A: "I think it was just tough for us. I think at certain times during the season I don't think we responded well to certain things and we didn't bounce back how I thought we were going to bounce back. Other than that we did a pretty good job responding to the guys that we did have out. Everybody still played hard. We had a lot of young guys to step their game up, so we look forward to next year."
Q: Do you feel snubbed by the not being invited to the Pro Bowl?A: "A little bit but my season speaks for itself. I think I played really well. Just because you didn't make it to the Prow Bowl doesn't mean you didn't have a good season. The guys who made it, they deserve to go as well. Good luck to them."
Q: What does back-to-back winning seasons mean to this team?
A: "I think that's one of our number one goals right now, to have back to back winning seasons. I know that's on everybody's mind and it means a lot. What is it 44-years that this team has been without winning seasons? We definitely want to be the first and you can't take that away from us being the first to do that."
Q: Are the players thinking about the back-to-back seasons?
A: "Definitely. Forty four years, that's a long time to not have consecutive winning seasons. That's on everybody's mind. We don't have playoffs to play for, but that is something that we can hang our hat on and end this season on a good note."
Q: Do you have any New Year's resolutions?
A: "I'm working on it. I don't have any just yet. I don't have any."
Q: Are you too focused on the game?
A: "Yeah I'm too focused on the game. After the game I will sit down and write some stuff down."
Q: Can you talk about the young guys stepping up on defense?
A: "Yeah the last few weeks these young guys have really picked up their level of play. When they're in there and you ask them to do their job, they've been doing a good job late in the season."
Q: What do you see when you look at the Bucs on tape?
A: "As a defense they've got a rookie quarterback and he's starting to play a lot better. They've also got a running back that is starting to run the ball. As a defensive player we've got to go in there with the mindset that we're going to stop the run. When it get downs to passing situations we want to confuse the rookie quarterback, give him all different looks and that will lead to interceptions and takeaways."
Q: Can you talk about the injuries this defense has faced this season?
A: "I've been fortunate enough to play with Mike Peterson and Stephen Nicholas all year. We've just got a good feel where each other's going to be and established a good chemistry on the field. The secondary has had a couple of banged up guys that went on IR. It takes a while for guys to gel and over the last couple of games you can see that starting to happen."
Q: Would you say the Falcons got robbed this year with no Pro Bowlers?
A: "Yeah definitely. Obviously we would love to continue on and play after this week, but that's not where we're at right now. But with that said, I think everybody's motivated. We've had a good day of work so far and I think guys are excited about getting down there and having the opportunity to finish this thing on the right note."
Q: What are you anticipating going into Tampa Bay? They can't be taken lightly, especially after last weekend.
A: "No they'll definitely be prepared to go. We know on the defensive side of the ball they've got some veteran guys that are good leaders with Ronde Barber, guys that have been around a long time and know what it takes to play well and to play winning football. We expect to see a good defense, a defense that's playing well right now. Really, if you look at the past four or five games the defense is playing tough. We've got our work cut out for us. It's going to be a tough task, as it always is with Tampa. We're excited to get down there and play well."
Q: What are your thoughts on the Pro Bowl this year?
A: "I think there are definitely some guys that are deserving from our team. With that said, you look at the people that did make it and they are certainly deserving. I wouldn't say anybody got robbed. I would've liked to see a couple of guys from our team make it: Tony, Roddy, some guys that I thought played well enough to get invites, but that's just the way it goes."
Q: What would winning three do for this team now?
A: "I think if we can finish up strong with three wins that will be huge for us heading into the off-season. Give us some momentum. It would be good for us, for the young guys around here too. To use it as motivation going into next year and use that as good momentum."
Q: Are you amazed that it's already Week 17?
A: "It has gone by quick. I think, especially it being the second year compared to your first. Your first year is a long season and there's no doubt about that. It takes some adjusting to it and I think we you're in your second year it feel more like the length of the season it should be. I feel like I was better acclimated for the length of the season."
Q: Do you have any New Year's resolutions?
A: "I'm not big into New Year's resolutions. I certainly have some goals heading into next year that I would like to do better professionally and personally. With that said, professionally definitely continue to improve and make a push heading into next year."
Q: You were hurt after the first series against the Bucs, but how much does the tape help now that they've gone back to the Tampa Two defense?
A: "I think it definitely helps. You've got a better sense of what they're going to do in certain situations, personal groupings, and formation wise. It makes for better preparation. With that said, I didn't get a lot of snaps against them last time, so I can't use a lot of game experience against them. But, it's good tape to be able to watch how they line up to our sets and the way to they use personnel. It will definitely help."
Q: Are you surprised at how fast this season has gone by?
A: "Yeah it goes in spurts. When you're winning it makes things go faster and when you're losing it makes things get drawn out. It seems like one more season down and you're looking forward to next season. But, it is important that we go into this last game and hopefully get a victory. It will be good for the organization, good for the fans, and good for us taking it into the off-season. Hopefully we can go out there and get it done."
Q: You led votes for a tight end by the fans, but didn't make it in. Are you disappointed?
A: "Yeah, I would be lying to you if I told you that I wasn't disappointed. I thought that I played pretty well this year, but if the players and coaches don't think that I should be over there that's their vote and that's why we have it that way. It's one of those things, I am happy for those guys. Especially for a guy like Vernon, who has never been before, so you've got to say congratulations. A guy like Jason, there's a lot of guys. Every year at this time there are guys that should've gone and guys that are going, but whatever it is, it is what it is. If anything, it's good motivation for me to come out here and play pretty well next year."
Q: Could you use this as more motivation for next year?
A: "Maybe, we will see. I was a little fired up, but especially my family because they realized that they're missing out on that trip this year. Like I said congratulations to those guys, it is how it goes and I am pretty happy with ten. That was a good run, but it isn't over yet."
Q: How good is this Bucs team?
A: "They've won two in a row on the road. They're gelling right now. It's going to be a good game. They're not going to let us come in there; they're not going to lay down, just like we wouldn't lay down. It's always a good football game. Any given Sunday you're going out there, you're professional athletes, we get paid to do what we do, and we have to be accountable to each other and to go out there and play well. It's going to be a good game, a great game actually. Hopefully we go out there and end it on a high note."
Q: Are the players still motivated with no playoffs in the near future?
A: "Definitely. It's your last game and you don't want to lose your last game. You don't want that taste that it leaves in your mouth. It's one of those things that you want to go out on a winning note and we have a lot to play for around here. I don't think that motivation is going to be a problem around this locker room this week. We understand what is at stake and the historic implications of it. Guys are going to be ready. Even if it wasn't that, guys are going to go out there and give it their all. We will go out there with a good game plan and hopefully go out there and be able to get it."
Q: When did you know about the Falcons not ever having back-to-back winning seasons?
A: "When I first showed up that first day when I got traded. They had talked about it. Obviously they were talking about playoffs and Super Bowls as well, they were saying that back to back winning seasons was something that's never been done around here. Like I said, if there's any consolation I think that's it, at least having a winning season."
Q: Do you think the Bucs use the back-to-back winning seasons streak as motivation to disrupt history?
A: "Yeah, why wouldn't they? I know if I was in their position I would want to go out there and win. They have a lot to play for and we've got a lot to play for, so it's going to be good."
Q: How's your calf?
A: "I'm still working on it. I'm still a little up in the air of whether or not I'm going to be able to get out there or not. I'm just taking it one day at a time and it feeling somewhat better, but there is still a ways to go. Hopefully I can get back out there and play this week."
Q: Did someone roll on it or how did it happen?
A: "No, it was kind of a fluke. I was sitting there planting, the guy had contact but it wasn't something where I was getting hit or somebody hit it. It's just one of those fluke things where it just popped."
Q: Do you think that you're going to play?
A: "I don't know. Hopefully I can. If it was up to my mom, it was funny during the game my mom text me after I got hurt and obviously I didn't get it until after the game, but the text said you better get back in there and get those catches. My mom is tough."
Q: Is the 1,000 catch mark something you want to achieve this season?
A: "Yeah that was part of the motivation. That's a milestone and it's a great milestone. I would love to go on and get it done this year. It would've been nice to do it at home in front of the fans, but it's still a milestone nevertheless. Obviously T.O. did it against us and I'm sure it was something special for him. It would be something special for me and hopefully we can get it done."
Q: My mom would tell me to get healthy and not go back out there.
A: "My mom is football mom, hardcore. There's no pity in my family so I can't sit around a feel sorry for myself. They're like: 'you better get back in there and play'."
MORE FALCONS-BUCCANEERS COVERAGE:
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 AF.com Managing Editor * GAMEDAY LIVE:More pregame coverage and ingame features from AF.com * GAME CENTER:Stats and more in the NFL.com 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