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Transcript: Mike Smith post-practice interview


On how the final practice going into a preseason game went:

"It was our Friday practice and of course a little different in the terms that we wanted to get some of our guys that didn't get an opportunity to play in the game last week for as many snaps, that are going to probably get more snaps this week, prepared. We went through some situations. We had a longer two-minute than we normally do, to allow those guys to get an opportunity to work that situation. We really worked on situations at practice today."

On how RB Michael Turner has performed on the field so far:

"Again, I think you can't just look at the games in terms of performance. I think you've got to look at the whole body of work and the offseason with all of our players, just not Michael. I think that he's running faster than he ran last year and I think he's running with more confidence. He's going to be big part of what we want to be able to do during the regular season. I say this, all 32 teams right now that are finishing up the preseason, they all have different objectives. You know we're going to play those four preseason games, and of course when we play the games we want to win. The objectives here in Atlanta, are much different than what they are in Jacksonville or what they are in Green Bay. I think there's certain things that everybody's working on and ultimately everybody's shooting for that opening weekend because that's when the games start to count."

On whether he should be concerned about the kicking game and K Matt Bryant having some misses:

"As I said yesterday, that's one of many concerns that I have. We've got to kick the ball between the uprights especially on extra points. When you're kicking a 50-yarder or a 48-yarder that's a little bit of a different situation, but we've got to make extra points when they're presented to us. That's one of many concerns. We're trying to, right now, go through these last four or five days and put together a roster that we feel like we can go out and compete once the season starts. That's really my biggest concern right now, putting our roster together. That kicking situation is one of many."

On seeing both sides of the kicking situation in regards to last year with former K Jason Elam:

"I have. Of course when a kicker makes a mistake everybody in the stadium knows about it. An offensive or defensive linemen makes a mistake you have to have a trained eye to really know who made the mistake. So, they get magnified. Special teams is not like offense and defense. When you're out there on special teams you've got one snap. It's the kickoff, it's the extra point, it's the punt. You don't get a second chance, you know, if you miss a block and it goes from first and 10 to second and 12 you know the offense has an opportunity to make up for it. On special teams, it's completely different, there series are one down at a time. It is truly one play at a time with them."

On QB Matt Ryan's completion percentage and if he has concerns:

"Well no, we don't want to be a 50 percent completion team that's for sure. As we evaluated, Matt evaluated we saw some things that we needed to work on and I think we've got those things corrected. Again, it's the preseason and everybody is working on different things. Everybody is holding things back. Everybody is working on certain schemes that they want to show, then there's schemes that they don't want to show. Then there's working on routes, how they want to run routes. This preseason, it's really an interesting time because there's a lot of speculation going on across the League. I think it's a great build up to the opening week. Next Thursday night the NFL season kicks off in earnest and we're excited about it."

On how players trying to make roster spots are mentally preparing themselves:

"I think the mental part of it is very important. The guys that we're talking about that are fighting for roster spots are going to probably play more plays in this game than they will during the regular season. I think it's going to give us an opportunity to see how they prepare for significant playing time. Most of the guys we're talking about will be in back-up roles or special teams roles. We're going to get a real good evaluation because they're going to play significantly in the game on Thursday."

On what a player needs to show him during a game to prove they can earn a roster spot:

"For one thing, they've got to perform at a high level when they're on the field, that's the most important thing. They've got to be efficient in their job. The second thing that I look for is, is it too big for them? You watch them on the sideline and you see how they interact with the coaches. So much of the game, believe it or not, is not necessarily when your unit is out there on the field. We've got to be able to communicate. Communication is very, very important. We've got to get information from the players. We've got to get information from the press box. Sometimes, those pictures that we're looking at on the sideline, they're still shots; they don't always tell the truth. We've got to rely on the players and we've got to rely on the information that they're giving us so that we can make our adjustments as a coaching staff. You want to see some composure there on the sideline. You don't want to come over and talk to two defensive linemen and you asked them what happened on that play and this guy got double teamed, the guy next to him got double teamed, and the guy next to him got double teamed. I'm saying 'now wait a minute, how many guys are they playing with out there on the offensive side of the ball?'. You want to be able to get information and believe me in 28 years of coaching that has happened on more than one occasion."

On experimenting on third down on defense:

"We have to experiment because what we did last year wasn't acceptable. We've got to look at different things. We took a good, hard look at what we do. We took a good, hard look at what the teams that do it well do, and tried to come up with a plan to make us and help us be more efficient on third down."

On WR Michael Jenkins status:

"He's on track. I think you guys may have noticed Michael's catching the ball, throwing the ball. I think that time frame that we mentioned when the injury first occurred, I think we're still on schedule for that. I can't comment on that (whether Jenkins will be ready for the season opener) at this point in time, but I do know this, that we feel like he is on track. He's doing everything in his power to get back."

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