Head coach Mike Smith got the Falcons back to work Monday, practicing on what is normally a workout day. Smith had a chance to speak about the Buccaneers and how Sunday's game can affect the NFC South
On the key to keeping the momentum going from before the bye week: **
"I think the big thing for us is to try to be consistent. I think it started way back when we put together our plan of how we're going to practice and prepare. Each and every week we want to go out and start fast that's something that we've prided ourselves on, some weeks we've done it better than others. I think that we have to evaluate how we try to get our team ready and I think we did that during the bye week. It's important for us to start fast. Statistically, when we start fast we usually like the outcome."
On playing the Buccaneers who are tied for first place in the division:
"I know this is a division game and it takes a whole lot more character in terms of we see these guys twice so we know each other. We need to make sure that we're ready for it. As I told the guys this morning, you get what you earn in this League, and they're five and two and they're playing as good of football as anybody right now. We look forward to the challenge on Sunday because this will be our second division opponent that we've faced this season."
On whether the Buccaneers team reminds him of the 2008 Falcons that had a lot of young players who found ways to win:
"Head coach Raheem (Morris) and his staff have done a great job through the first seven games. They have played very effectively. Offensively, the quarterback I read something about he's had six come from behind victories in the short time he's been the starting quarterback. They obviously are playing with a lot of confidence. He's a big, athletic quarterback that has two young receivers that I think are coming into their own and their running game is something that you have to be concerned with as well. RB LeGarrette Blount, the big running back this week had 122 yards; he's a big strong 250 pound running back that we're going to have to tackle. Then defensively, they're very opportunistic. Four turnovers in their ballgame, that was a big difference in their game this past weekend, two were returned for touchdowns. They're doing the things that you have to do to win football games in the NFL."
On whether WR Mike Williams and WR Arrelius Benn and RB Blount being rookies presents a challenge in terms of preparation:
"I think it creates a challenge a little bit because our guys haven't lined up against them. Even though we're familiar with the team in terms of the scheme and everything that they run, but those three guys are first year players and they're off to a really good start. Like I just said, Blount had a wonderful game against the Cardinals this week with 122 yards rushing and I think 21 or 22 carries. That one in the fourth quarter was about as special of a run as you can see the way he hurdled. WR Mike Williams is a big strong wide receiver. Those guys are talented and they're playing that way. Right now, they've earned their record they are five and two."
On the relative health of the defense:
"We're hoping to get a bunch of guys back that have missed some time, this week. We held some guys out from practice today just because we're really not in the mode of game-planning. Today was a Falcons-on-Falcons day. We thought it was important for us to come out and work against one another. We hope to get guys back and we'll know a whole lot more of where we are with these guys when they come back on Wednesday but the whole plan was to try to get as many guys back as we could during the bye week. I know that the guys spent a lot of time in the training room this weekend so hopefully we will get them back out here on Wednesday."
On the NFL protocol for head injuries (CB Dunta Robinson):
"He was down with both his head and his knee, that's what we listed on the injury report from the injury there in the Philadelphia game. There is a protocol that all players have to go through when they are in the concussion protocol. There are a number of milestones that they have to reach, but the first step is to one pass the impact test which is a computer test where they have to answer some questions and respond. Then they have to also see an independent neurosurgeon and that's really just the first step in getting back. Then they have to go through practices where they do not have contact and they ramp it up as the week goes on. It's not something that you can get cleared in one day and be cleared to actually play in a game. You have to go through the entire protocol that the League has set in place and it does take some time."
On whether he is hopeful to get the whole list of injured players back on Sunday:
"I am very hopeful that we get our guys back, but we'll know on Wednesday. We had guys that we held out today some of them were for precautionary reasons that will definitely practice on Wednesday. We are hopeful that we will get those guys back. This time of the year though you're always going to have guys that are going to be banged up and may not make it. There's going to be situations that you may go all the way into Sunday to know who's going to be available and who's not."
On what CB Brent Grimes has improved on the most:
"I think that Brent last year led our team in interceptions, I think he had six interceptions last year which was very productive for a guy that really was a first time starter. I think really it's the experience of spending three years in our program and in our system. Brent has matured as a football player since we've gotten here. We've always known that he may be the most athletic player on our team, but he really has a very good understanding of what we're trying to do coverage-wise. I think he understands our disguise packages and when you put all of that together you're seeing a guy that's playing very effectively for us."
On CB Brian Williams:
"It was good to see Brian back out of course because he's trying to recover from an ACL injury. He is definitely a guy that can play a number of positions for us. I think he's getting more comfortable coming back from his injury playing at the nickel position. He gives us a different body type in there at the nickel position, a little bigger presence playing the nickel. Again, we're going to make the decisions on who's playing what positions based on really who we feel gives us the best chance to win and the matchups."
On how CB Chris Owens played against Cincinnati:
"Chris had a very active day, I think he had 13 tackles in the ballgame and it was because there were a lot of throws that came his way. Again, I thought that he held his own for the most part, the throws were inside and in front and that's really the thing that we wanted to do. We were going to make sure that they didn't throw the ball over our head that was really how we approached it going into the ballgame. Those were two very good, experienced receivers and they also put stress on us with WR (Jordan) Shipley the slot receiver. I think he had their biggest day, I think he had their most yards if I'm not mistaken in that ballgame with 120 plus yards. He was the guy. I thought Chris held his own with what we asked him to do."