Falcons head coach Mike Smith talked about the defensive line rotation, where Michael Jenkins is in his progress to return from a shoulder injury and how the Saints have handled some very good tight ends in the early part of the season as he spoke with the Atlanta media after practice Thursday.
On how the defensive tackle rotation has been working:
"It got changed this past week when DT Jonathan Babineaux came back in terms of the number of snaps because, of course, Jonathan's going to be in the rotation. I think there's going to be competition each and every week in terms of who will be on our 53-man roster with one of those defensive tackles. A lot of it will have to be determined with how the guys practice or the type of offense that we're going to face."
On where DT Peria Jerry is in the defensive line rotation:
"Right now Peria is going to be about a 20-snap a game player. I think he feels a lot more comfortable in our sub-package than our base-package. Again, he's recovering from his knee surgery and we're going to continue to bring him along and hopefully get him to where he'll be playing upwards of 30 snaps a game. Right now, he's in the 15 to 25 snap range."
On where DE Jamaal Anderson is in the rotation:**
"He will be more of a sub-tackle when we're in our sub-package, which we've been doing for the past two seasons with Jamaal. Again, we don't really consider that we have four starters. We think if we're dressing eight we've got eight starters, if we're dressing seven we've got seven starters. We want to keep those guys as fresh as we can with the idea that in the fourth quarter when it comes down to the end of the ballgame and it's a close ballgame that we're going to be able to hold up against the run as well as put pressure on the quarterback with our four down linemen."
On whether RB Reggie Bush being out changes the defensive scheme at all:
"No it doesn't. As I said yesterday, I think what it does do is it puts a little uncertainty in terms of what we have to prepare for. We knew when Reggie was in the lineup he's going to get his 10 to 12 touches or opportunities to touch the ball. Now, those are going to have to be distributed amongst some pretty darn good players. When you start talking about their tight ends and the wide receiving crew that they have. I think it just puts a little bit more of an unknown in terms of how they're going to attack us."
On whether the safeties have been backing up against the Saints offense:
"I know in the first game it was a little different style of defense and I know in the game out there in San Francisco weather was a concern. The wind was blowing, so they really had significant wind for half of the ballgame. Going against the wind that gets into your thought process in terms of how you're going to try to move the ball down the field. We know that when we play these guys that they are an explosive team and they are going to take their shots. We anticipate that we'll see that on Sunday."
On how WR Michael Jenkins did in his second day of practice:
"I thought Michael didn't have any real setbacks from practice yesterday. We brought him out again today. We're integrating him into our offense. If we can get by a couple of days without having any setbacks then I think it looks really good for Michael getting back out there and contributing."
On the Saints defense giving up a lot of yardage but creating turnovers in their first two games:
"They did that all last season and they continue to do it this season. In terms of what they are philosophically, they want to be a team that attacks the ball and they have attacked it. They've forced as many turnovers or more turnovers than anybody in the League. They had eight defensive touchdowns in 2009. I think it's a mindset. They have a very good understanding if they're in one-on-one situations how to strip the ball. They also do a very good job of stripping the ball when it's in a close area. Of course they were active in terms of interceptions last year. I think in the first 12 games as they were rolling to 12-0, I think they had 36 turnovers in those first 12 games."
On the defense letting the tight ends get out on them in their first two games:
"Those are two good tight ends (Vikings TE Visanthe Shiancoe and 49ers TE Vernon Davis). They've had the situation where they've played two really outstanding tight ends, two really athletic tight ends. I think anybody that's game planning against those guys, they've got to take what people are giving them. There were some matchups that told the quarterback to take the ball that way."
On having a lot of talented guys who can do different things on the secondary:
"Yes we do. That's a good situation to have in terms of having guys available. Last week, CB Brian Williams had to come in and play some nickel when CB Christopher Owens went down. Christopher's been back practicing all this week, but it gives us flexibility in a lot of areas. S William Moore had to step up because S Erik Coleman wasn't available. Again, Erik was out of practice today, he was the only player that didn't participate. It gives us some depth. You've got to have depth. Through a 16 game season there's going to be opportunities for a lot of guys to contribute, whether it's defensive line, linebackers, or secondary."
On how CB Dunta Robinson is coming along:
"I thought that the improvement from Week 1 to Week 2 was outstanding in terms of having an understanding of what we're trying to do. Again, he missed the entire preseason in terms of actually playing in the games so it was his first two games playing in our defense. I thought that you saw what he's capable of doing last week in terms of his coverage skills. He forced an interception, on William Moore's he was in very tight coverage and the ball got knocked up. He's still got a lot to learn, like all of our guys do, about our defense. Again I look out there, it's some new guys and some young guys. You look out there and you see 56 (LB Sean Weatherspoon) playing a whole lot of snaps. 21 (CB Christopher Owens) is playing a new position at the nickel position, and you see another rookie 91 (Corey Peters) out there playing a significant number of snaps. It's some young guys that have not played a whole lot of snaps but through the first two games they've held up well. The best thing for us is to get them as much experience as we can."
On all of the weapons that the Saints have on offense:
"I think they've got one, one-a, one-b, one-c. I wouldn't want to call any of those guys number two's and number three's. They're very talented and I think that each one of them has a little bit of a different skill set in terms of what they're strengths are. WR Marques Colston is big and has very, very strong hands. WR Robert Meachem and WR Devery Henderson can really run, both have great speed, and WR Lance Moore inside is a target that QB Drew (Brees) has really liked to go to in crucial situations."