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Transcript: Mike Smith post-practice interview


Falcons head coach Mike Smith talked about injuries from Sunday's game against Cleveland and how moving William Moore into the starting safety position affects Erik Coleman as Atlanta prepares for Philadelphia this weekend

On the injury updates:

"Sean Weatherspoon missed practice today, he did not participate. He had an MRI yesterday. The MRI revealed that he has a sprained knee. We're going to hold him out definitely tomorrow and we'll look at what happens on Friday and Saturday and make a determination there. The guys that were limited today were LB Curtis Lofton, TE Justin Peelle, and DE John Abraham. Lofton was a knee, Justin Peelle was a groin, and John Abraham had stiffness in his back. Those were the guys that will show up on our injury report today."

On the kinds of problems that the Eagles defense presents:

"They create communication issues and identification issues for the offensive unit. They do a very good job of having a specific plan and I think it changes each and every week. So you've got to make sure you have rules, blocking rules, and then you can hold up against most anything. Of course if they show us some unscouted look we've got to go to the sideline and make those adjustments. It will be in communication and identification and then of course with the crowd noise that just complicates the issue."

On the high number of rushing yards the Eagles have despite the fact that they tend to throw more:

"In fact I was watching the ballgame against the 49ers on TV and I saw and interesting stat, the 12 years that (head) coach (Andy) Reid has been the head coach they've thrown the ball approximately 60 percent of the time and only rushed it 40 percent. But over those same 12 years they lead the League in average per rush attempt and they're doing that this year as well. It's right at five yards I believe this season. They are number one in the league in rush yards per attempt. They have got a potent offense. Basically they want to throw the football first, but then when you try to defend the pass and load up on that, they're going run the football."

On the challenges of preparing for both Eagles QB's Michael Vick and Kevin Kolb:

"I think it's going to be very similar to the challenge that we faced last week in terms of we didn't know going into the week if we were going to see Browns QB Jake Delhomme or QB Seneca Wallace. In terms of their routes that they run, regardless of the quarterback, it's basically the same routes. The thing that you have to prepare for is the difference in the skill set with the quarterbacks in terms of ability to run. So you have to change up your strategies in terms of how you want to rush the passer based on who's in there."

On whether Sunday's game in Philadelphia has an added importance:

"I haven't really looked ahead beyond this week. We try to keep everything in perspective and know that the next one is the most important. I think it's important for us because it's a conference game and the conference games have more weight. The most important that we need to play well is because it's the next thing."

On how staying relatively healthy has helped with the team's success:

"We've been fortunate in terms of staying healthy. I think a lot of it has to do with the work that we did in the offseason. I think you have to have luck in some instances in terms of contact injuries and things like that that are happening. We've been very fortunate in terms of pulled muscles and I think that what we do in the offseason has a lot of bearing on that. Our Athletic Performance department does a very good job in setting the routine up for them so that they will be at their optimum level when we start the season."


On how LB Stephen Nicholas looks filling in for injured LB Sean Weatherspoon:**

"Stephen came in when called on to play when Sean was not able to play against the 49ers. Stephen is going to be prepared and ready to go. Of course as I said Sean will not practice tomorrow, we'll look at it on Friday and Saturday, so he's going to get the majority of the reps this week. Stephen has been a starter for us and he has played effectively. The next guy that's in line has got to step up. Injuries are a part of this season and every season. I anticipate that Stephen will be prepared and ready to go."

On where S Erik Coleman stands:

"S William Moore is our starter. He's played very effectively. He's made some big plays in the ballgame. We feel like for right now he gives us the best opportunity to win. Erik is going to be involved in being a backup safety right now and be able to help us on special teams. It's just a switch of roles and that role could change week to week or day to day based on injury or based on performance."

On leading the league in some key defensive stats in particular fewest points allowed in the fourth quarter:

"I think that our guys have done a very good job. They understand our scheme that we've tried to put together with general manager Thomas (Dimitroff) and his staff. We're a faster more urgent team. We tried to get younger and I think we've been able to do that. Guys are very athletic and they have a good understanding of what defensive coordinator Brian (VanGorder) and his staff and trying to do. We've made a lot of mistakes when you watch the tape over these first five games but we've been able to overcome some of those mistakes by hustle and the speed of some of our players."

On being 3-0 this season when trailing at halftime:

"Our guys have been very resilient in terms of playing four quarters. It does two things, when you're able to show your resiliency I think it does help your confidence as a football team just to know that you've been in that situation and you can do it. I also think it keeps this game in perspective. These games are four quarters, 60 minutes long and you're going to have to play to the last play because it's been evident for us this season that the play of the games has come down to the last snap of the ballgame on a number of occasions."


On whether he believes that this game is going to come down to turnovers:**

"I think every game basically comes down to who turns the ball over the least. Statistically if you win the turnover battle you're going to win the game. When you're up by one, it's a significant advantage if you get two turnovers up on the turnover ratio you're basically going to win about 80 percent of the time. It really comes down to possession of the ball. The thing that I've been impressed with Philadelphia is through their first five games they've only turned the ball over four times. They've had one interception and three lost fumbles, so they've had four giveaways which I believe is number two in the League. They really had a huge game against San Francisco and had five turnovers, they had five takeaways. Three fumble recoveries and two interceptions. They've always been known to be a team that attacks the football and creates a lot of pressure for offenses."

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