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Transcript: Mike Smith, Matt Ryan Interviews

Head coach Mike SmithOn Mike Johnson: "Well, it's tough.  I had an opportunity to speak with Mike last night; he's doing well, resting comfortably.  We'll have a lot more insight in about a week when he has the surgery.  It's a tough break for Mike and for our football team, but we have to be resilient and he's got to be resilient.  We've got to continue to move forward."

On Mike Johnson's injury most likely being season ending: "I won't say most likely, I think we'll know a whole lot more when he has the procedure done next week.  As soon as we know we will let you guys know.  Of course, if we make a roster move you guys will see it 4 o clock the day we make it. "  

On the players working at the right tackle position: "Lamar Holmes was competing with Mike Johnson for the starting position.  Schraeder, number 73, is going to get some work there.  So those will be the two guys that will get majority of the work in the game on Thursday.  Those two guys will get majority of the work."

On Lamar and Schraeder splitting reps: "It will be competition.  Of course, Lamar has been with us a lot longer.  We're going to have competition. We may look at moving someone and cross training them.  When you get to game day you've got to have 7 guys up and you have to have guys that can play multiple positions.  I would say Lamar right now is going to get majority of the reps tomorrow night at right tackle.  He's taking majority of them in practice.  Moving forward I couldn't say."  

On looking at bringing in veteran free agents: "Again, until we really know what is going on with Mike, I know Thomas and his staff always have lists together and if we feel it's something we need to do we'll do it."  

On Lamar's game: "Lamar is our third round draft pick from last year.  He didn't have an opportunity to go through training camp because of an injury with his foot.  He's a big athletic tackle.  That is what you want, a guy that can mirror the pass rusher.  There are very athletic pass rushers that we're going to face all season long and that's probably is his strength, he's very athletic."

On how disappointing it is to lose Mike when trying to build offensive chemistry: "Well, we've been in a very competitive mode through the first 14 days of practice.  I think we've been set on the left side and the center position, more so than the on the right side.  I think Garrett Reynolds has done a very good job thus far, but Joe Hawley is competing at that center/guard and what was an open competition.  Now that we've lost Mike, someone else is going to have to step up and compete.  I think we said from the very beginning we really like the young college free agents we signed in the offensive line and how big they were. They've really done a nice job.  They're going to have an opportunity now.  They're going to get an opportunity to get on tape a whole lot more than they would have yesterday."  

On attributes he looks for in the right tackle position: "Athleticism and then strength.  You've got to be able to anchor.  You're going to get bull rushes in that position as well.  Most of the time the left tackle is the guy that usually gets the more athletic guy you're going to get more bull rushes on that side so you're going to have to be able to anchor and Lamar is a very strong player.  We drafted Lamar in the 3rd round and anticipate that he's going to do the job.  There are some young guys that I'm anxious to see how they perform.  We've got a long time, 4 games to really evaluate, not only offensive line but our entire roster to figure out who are the best 53 for us."  

On the areas of evaluation he is looking forward to seeing: "The offensive line, first and foremost.  In the secondary we've got a lot of young guys that are going to get significant snaps, going to get significant snaps against their good players.  Not just going to be playing against guys that just joined the team this year.  Looking at the corner position, the nickel position, you are going to see different guys that we've cross trained to play at the nickel in this game.  Then the safety, the two draft picks we drafted in the 7th round are going to get a significant amount of playing time as well.  Special teams will be fun to watch.  When you start talking about safetys and corners, those are guys that can usually contribute on all 4 special teams; it will be fun to watch those guys.  I think we've got a number of guys were going to work that you'll see playing the dime position.  Again, this is what the preseason is all about.  It's about evaluating your roster, you want to go out and win the game, were playing to win, but the big thing we want to do is evaluate our roster against other players, not just the players on our squad."  

*On seeing Alford returning kicks tomorrow: * "That's not out of the realm of possibilities at all.  We've got some competition there as well.  Jacquizz Rogers will be the guy that's probably going to return the kickoffs during the regular season.  But we've got some other guys we want to take a look at as well,  Robert Alford being one of them, not only kickoff but punts.   

On getting more looks at Cliff Matthews at the inside the position: "Absolutely, Cliff has put on some weight.  We asked him to put on some weight so that we could have him be a swing guy.  We want to have as much flexibility as we can with defensive line as well.  We want to have guys that can line up inside and out.   In my mind we've got 2 or 3 guys who can do that, not just Cliff. "  

On the first responders that were here as special guests: "It was an honor to have them.  Unfortunately, we didn't have the weather that we liked and have them stand outside on the sideline, but it was great to have them here.  I know our players were excited to have the opportunity to visit with them.  If it wasn't for first responders, we would have a lot more difficult situations than we have in this world. " * *

On Dominique Davis: "Dominique is going to get a lot of snaps.  In terms of getting him as many looks as we possibly can.  Dom is listed as our number 2 quarterback and he is going to play the majority of the game on Thursday night.  I want to see him run the offense, want to see him make accurate throws and most importantly make good decisions.  Not only in the passing game, but making good decisions in getting us in and out  of plays against certain looks.   

On being pleased with Dominique's performance from last year to now: "Absolutely, Dom is going through the maturation process all young quarterbacks go through.  There's going to be throws that he wishes he had back, there's going to be looks that he's not going to necessarily identify the right way, but I think that the arrow is definitely going up on Dom."  

Quarterback Matt RyanOn Lamar Holmes taking over the starting position: "You got to take it one day at a time. I think Lamar's (Holmes) done a really good job this camp and this offseason too. He's gotten himself into really good shape, and he's been practicing well. It's just one of those things, you just have to focus. Every team has young guys that have to fill in, and step up and play for you. When you're in that position you just have to focus on daily improvement and getting a little bit better every day, and trying not to make the same mistakes a couple of days in a row. When you make them, everybody's going to make them, you have to correct them. We'll work really hard on that. We have four games to get out there and get gelled together on the offensive line. I think our veteran guys, Justin Blalcok, Sam Baker, Garrett Reynolds, those guys will do a really good job of bringing those young guys along."  

On only playing a few series during the preseason: "You want to play. Everybody's itching to play. As a veteran you also know what's in front of you, and the process that is in front of you. We really respect what Smitty (Mike Smith) does, and he takes care of us. And has the number one goal of getting everyone to the opener healthy and we try and do that. So you want to play, but that's part of the deal."  

On his focus for first preseason game: "I think it's to go out there and execute well. Try not to have many mental mistakes as a unit in the time that we're in there. Try and communicate well at the line of scrimmage. And also try to go out there and make some plays, and score. That's what it boils down to; you want to score every time you have it. I think first and foremost it's got to be execution; we have to go out there and limit the mental mistakes."  

On whether he thinks the offense has something special: "Yes. I felt that way really the last two, three years. We've had really talented guys around here, and so you have that mindset we can do something special. But just because you have the guys that you have there's no guarantee that you're going to go out there and do that. If you get caught up in worrying about those things it takes away what you need to be doing. I think that's what's really so great about the guys that we have around us; everybody's focused on trying to be our best today, and if we do that we really feel like we can do something special."  

On what Steven Jackson is going to add to the team: "I think he's a great player and I think anytime you add a great player to your team you get better. I think specific skill; he catches the ball really, really well out of the backfield. You guys have seen he's a monster. I mean he's a big guy. I think he's comfortable running the ball in a one-back set, which is good for the personnel that we have. I think he's going to be a great fit to what we do."  

On the first responders being out at practice: "The real heroes are out here today, and they're watching us do our thing. But these are the people that everybody depends on. So to have a chance to say hello and see them, and to tell them that we're thankful for what they've done is special. "

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