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Transcript: Coach Mike Smith post-practice interview


Only once today, but tell us about today's practice.

"Probably the toughest day weather wise that we've had. Very, very hot. The wet ball was steamy, so we tried to improvise a little bit there at the end of practice and take the pads off. I thought the guys fought through it. It was a situational day for us. We introduced them to our goal line offense and defense, our third and one, as well as being backed up in our end. Those were points emphasized today. I thought the guys went out and worked hard. This is when we start getting into the dog days for our team."

Do all the reps you take during OTAs, mini camp, and training camp make a difference when you get into a situation like fourth and goal versus the Jets last year?

"Oh, without a doubt. We work on percentages in terms of how often we are going to work on something, and you are going to get about three series in an average game down in the red zone. You are probably going to get one third down and short. When that arises we have a call in our back pocket that we feel really good about. That play is called fourth and goal to TE Tony Gonzalez. We knew exactly what we felt like we were going to get coverage wise and they probably knew who we were going to go to. In times like that, you got to get your best players' hands on the ball, and that's what we did."

Does it take a veteran trained eye and smart player to read the coverage?

"It really does. It takes guys who are seeing through the same eyes. They're making sure they are seeing the same coverage, knowing where the hole is going to be if it is a zone coverage. Tony sat down in the zone and QB Matt [Ryan] was able to deliver the football."

Besides the usual suspects coach, whose been standing out in your eyes over the week?

"I really feel that LB Sean Weatherspoon is really become more comfortable. He's still playing both Sam and Will linebacker, getting reps at both spots, and in our Dime linebacker sub package. DT Corey Peters I think has really had a solid start to camp. When we got into the pads, I think we really saw what he could do, and he is a good anchor point. CB Dominique Franks has gotten his hands on the ball not only in the first couple of days but when we got into padded practice. The two offensive linemen, OG Michael Johnson and C Joe Hawley. I think those two guys are going to be guys that could really help us. They have very good size and they understand what it takes to play in there. That unit is a good unit to learn from. That first five is a very solid group."

Your old mentor, (Jacksonville Jaguars head coach) Jack Del Rio has gone with the Oklahoma drill. Is that something we will see here at Falcons Training Camp?

"Well no. We work and have some semi- Oklahoma drills when we do our team periods. I know that is something Jack has always done when we were there. I know it gets the players and the fans interested. It is a very tough drill. It's something we aren't going to do. We haven't done it here, but it is something that really talks to your players about setting the tone."

Do you think he will try to convince you to run the Oklahoma drill in the combined practice?

"No it's going to be a combined practice. We've already agreed on the rules of engagement. That combined practice is really going to be two separate practices. Just like a normal practice. Instead of one skelly period going on there is going to be two skellys. Two nine on sevens. So when the fans come out to watch there is going to be a lot of activity going because they will be practicing on both fields."

Is DT Peria Jerry starting over again or is he picking up right where he left off?

"I think Peria is going to be able to take over where he started last season. Today was a good day for Peria. It was the first time Peria actually did something besides individual. We got him back in the swing of things. His injury was a little bit later in the season so he is going to be a little bit behind WR Harry Douglas. Harry Douglas actually fully participated in practice today for the first time. So we are going to see how he is feeling after the practice, and tomorrow he will hopefully be able to continue on that same program where he getting all the snaps he normally gets. We are pleased with those two guys and where they are. DB Brian [Williams] his injury was little further down in the season. We anticipate that he will start working back in next week. We're on schedule and we haven't had any setbacks with those guys."

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