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Transcript: Mike Smith post-practice interview


Falcons head coach Mike Smith talked about how to keep his team from getting too high after Sunday's thrilling overtime win over the New Orleans Saints and gave an update on injuries to three key players.

On what he's doing to get the focus on the San Francisco game after a big victory:

"It's the message that we give them every week. The next game is the most important game. We want to try to stay as even keeled as we can, especially on Monday through Saturdays. On Sundays, we know it's going to be an emotional and a passionate game, but really we can't be up and down on our preparation from Monday through Saturday. We've got to zoom focus each and every week. When we get here on Wednesday morning's that is our focus, the next opponent and today it was the San Francisco offense, defense, and special teams."

On QB Matt Ryan's growth this season and stepping into the leadership role:

"Matt is continuing the maturation process. I think when your quarterback plays effectively and efficiently he most of the time becomes the leader of your team. It's not a role that we gave Matt, it's a role that he's earned and I think it's through a natural progression. He is obviously being more vocal this season than he was in the previous two years. I think he's done a very good job. He has a very good understanding of our offensive scheme and what we're trying to get accomplished, not only at his position but at all 11 positions. He has a better understanding of what we're trying to accomplish week in and week out."

On the injuries to S Erik Coleman, WR Michael Jenkins, and LB Sean Weatherspoon:

"Sean did not practice today. He was held out because of an ankle. Michael Jenkins was limited. Erik Coleman was limited, so it was good to see Erik back out there participating. He did not do his normal snaps but he did get some limited snaps throughout the practice. Those are really the three guys that will be on the injury report today."

On when Weatherspoon's ankle injury occurred:

"In the ballgame, he left the game with cramps but 24 hours after the game he started to feel the ankle. When the adrenaline wore off he had an ankle issue. We held him out today and we're hoping that we'll get him back out tomorrow and get him some reps."

On Matt Ryan having input of what plays will be included in gameplans:

"There has got to be communication. That's one of the things that, I think as organization, we strive for. That we have an open line of communication, because we're all in this thing together. The coaches are going to put the gameplan together, but the gameplans that are put together are with input from the players. The most successful coaches are the ones that put their players in the best possible situations to succeed and I think you have to do that with input from your players. I think that's something that we've had since we got here, in terms of being able to be a communicative group. I think the more communication you have the more chance you have for growing your offense, for growing your defense, for growing your special teams schemes because the players have ownership of what you're trying to get done."

On whether S William Moore has earned the starting spot even if Erik Coleman is ready Sunday:

"Again, we won't make that decision until the end of the week. William has done a very good job in his role as the starting safety the last two ballgames. We'll see where Erik is and make that decision by the end of the week. It's a good problem to have, when you have guys that can step in when your starters go down and play effectively. That's what you want to have, to have depth on your football team because it's a long season and we're going to have a lot of guys get an opportunity to contribute as we get further in the season. We're only on the fourth game of the season right now, we've had guys that have had to step up from backups to move into starting roles."

On whether he has a rule of not losing your starting spot due to injury:

"We have no rule. Just like in terms of rules of, if he doesn't practice does he get to play. We're going to make the evaluation based on what we feel like gives us the best chance to win that week. That is something that I believe in, you've got to be very fluid and be able to evaluate each and every week because each and every week it's a whole different set of circumstances in terms of your preparation and who you're playing."

On the assessment of the 49ers defense even though they are off to an 0-3 start:

"I don't know that you can ever put any merit into a team's record, especially in the first four or five games of the season. I think it all starts to come into focus after four or five games. They are a very talented defense. I really think that they have a linebacker that's one of the top linebackers in the League in Patrick Willis. He can play the run, he can play the pass, he can play the fastball run games that are at him, he can match tight ends. (Nate) Clements, the corner is a very active corner. He's the kind of guy that you can match and they will do that. I also think Justin Smith is a very underrated defensive end in their 3-4 package. He makes a lot of plays. He's there, he plays both left end and right. He's a guy that can play the run and the pass. Takeo Spikes has got so much experience in terms of what he knows. Again, I don't put any merit into what their record is, when you watch them on tape they are impressive."

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