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Transcript: Mike Smith, Matt Ryan Interviews

Head coach Mike SmtihOn the weather report: "I did hear thunder. When I checked it was more than 11 miles away so we were in good shape. I was a little concerned about it happening but we got it done."  

On day two of training camp: "Day two is out of the way. One of the things that I was most impressed with by our team today was the mental part of it. They've done a great job, especially our young guys, retaining what they've learned in our OTAs and our mini-camps. I was pleasantly surprised by the lack of mental errors that we've had in the first two practices."

On when the first padded practice will be: "Our first padded practice will be on Sunday and it will be a one-a-day. We will not have a walk-thru on that day. Our schedule is such that we will have a walk-thru in the morning and a practice in the evening, very similar stuff to what we did today, although we will have some nine-on-seven and some of the things that we do in a padded practice. Kind of like a dry run. Then on Sunday we'll let them come out and compete in pads. We will not have a walk-thru though on Sunday morning."  

On WRs Julio Jones and Roddy White "picking on" CB Robert Alford: "As I said yesterday, those young corners are going to be learning under fire. Every play is going to be a learning experience for them and they're going to have to put the previous play behind them and move on to the next one. That's what a corner has to do. They're going against two of the best receivers in the NFL."  

On if he was impressed by the passing in practice: "Yeah I was. Again, we're not really going to emphasize our run game. It's really hard to evaluate your run game when you're not in pads, so you can really emphasize passing and we had more passes in our scripts than runs and that was by design. I thought we did a nice job again throwing the ball around today." * *

On wide receivers standing out: "I think there are a couple of young guys that are going to grab the attention of the coaches over the next couple of weeks. We know that Kevin Cone and Drew Davis have some experience, but there are a couple of those young wide receivers that have made some catches, not only in one-on-one but in team situations as well. " * *

On Marcus Sales: "He is our new signee from Syracuse. He was with us in rookie minicamp. He was a try out guy.  We signed him and added him to our roster yesterday." * *

On being back to back division champions: "This is the most competitive division in the NFL. I think that is a strong statement that says how competitive it is.  We've got to go out and play our best football.  Our three losses last year were against NFC South teams; that tells you how competitive the NFC South is. We know each and every time we go out and play within the division it's going to be a battle.  It should be again this year. I think all four teams are very strong, especially at the quarterback position and on the offensive side of the ball." 

Quarterback Matt Ryan
On it being any coincidence that he picked on CB Robert Alford and CB Desmond Trufant at the end of practice with the passes to WR Roddy White and WR Julio Jones: "No coincidence. That's kind of the way practice was scripted, to get some deep ball towards the end. We got some good work with those young guys. I'll tell you what, they had a good day. They really did. Trufant came up with a pick earlier, he came up with a good break on a ball, and Alford's doing a pretty good job as well. He contested probably three or four passes. So, I thought he did a great job. I've been impressed with those guys. They got good work ethic. They're both confident. They got good swagger, and I really think they're going to help our football team."  

On what he's looking forward to going into the weekend: "I think the first two days you knock off a little bit of rust. I think the pads go on tomorrow – well at least the shoulder pads. That changes things a little bit. And I think just looking to improve a little bit. Just improve daily, and try to get a little bit better every day. If we do that then I think we're heading in the right direction."  

On TE Tony Gonzalez getting a break from camp: "I think it's good. He had some previous stuff he had committed to before he decided to come back. He always maintains his shape really, really well. He and I have a great rapport. We've worked together a lot. I was out in California prior to training camp to get some work with him as well. I think that timing, and then the last couple of days it's going to be plenty of time, so it's not an issue at all."  

On being able to get more time with other tight ends in camp: "I think it's a great opportunity for some of our young guys to step up, and to work with the first unit. TE Levine (Toilolo), TE Chase Coffman, and TE Tommy Gallarda, I think it's a great opportunity for those guys. They're all hard workers, and they all do a good job. It'll be interesting to see how things shake up these next couple of weeks."

On trying to be first team in a while to win the NFC South Division back-to-back: "We're just trying to win. We can't worry about what happened last year, or trying to do things back-to-back. We just have to focus on this football team and this year. We're going to do everything we can to try and put ourselves in a position to win the division."

On hazing the rookies: "(You) can't do any of that. It's not the time or the place this day and age to do any of that stuff. You try to break them on the practice field a little bit, and show them the ropes and teach them a thing or two. They way we're built and the way the League's built, you need rookies to come in and contribute. And they need to feel a part of the team as early as they can. They're still going to pick up the checks and things like that on certain things, but we're going to make them feel as much a part of this team as we can."  

On Steven Jackson fitting into the offense: "I think he fits very well into what we do in the screen game, as well as what we do with our entire offense. Steven (Jackson) is a powerful runner, physical guy, which is going to bode well for what we want to do. He's also got a very good skill set catching the football, and has a great feel in the screen game. Screens boil down to that, it's a feel type of play. He's got to feel the blocks in front of him without really seeing it. From what I've seen early on he's got a very good feel for that."  

On what first padded practice means for a quarterback: "Nothing. It's different. The past rush around becomes a little bit different. The intensity picks up a lot, and I guess throwing with shoulder pads becomes a little bit different."  

On C Peter Konz: "He's doing awesome. Pete's really doing a great job. He's really one of the mature rookies I've seen. The way he played, the way he conducted himself. The way he prepared. He's really one of the most mature guys I've seen. Making the transition to center this year, a position that he played in college, is a place that he feels really comfortable. He's taken on a lot in terms of the mental aspect. We ask our centers to do a lot in the run game at the line of scrimmage getting everybody situated, and he's handled that seamlessly. He's done a great job." 

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