Falcons head coach Mike Smith talked about the Panthers' pass rush and the importance of keeping penalties to a minimum during his huddle with the Atlanta media Thursday
On the injury report:
"We had three guys that didn't participate today, LB Coy Wire, LB Curtis Lofton, and RB Jason Snelling. Those were the three guys. Curtis is in the maintenance program with his knee, Coy with a head injury, and of course Jason with his leg injury."
On whether he is hopeful Snelling will be back Sunday:
"He worked very hard off to the side with our training staff today. I'm hoping that he will get back, and we'll get out tomorrow and try to get him a couple reps and see where he's at."
On the first down penalties and whether there is a factor that has led to them:
"No, I don't know what would be the factor to that. I know we put a lot of emphasis on penalties, especially third down penalties, which are the things that we put the most emphasis on, on both sides of the ball because that's the conversion down. Then fourth quarter penalties that's really the thing we look at. Then special teams penalties are the third because a special teams penalty is not necessarily a five-yard penalty or a 10-yard penalty, they are spot fouls. That can really change the field position. Those are the three things that we really emphasize, third down penalties, fourth quarter penalties, and special teams penalties."
On whether the return in Tampa came back because it was a spot foul:
"Exactly. That was a very big penalty. You get into those special teams penalties and if it's on a return, even though it's 10 yards in the book, it's a lot more yards when you start talking about field position."
On how he makes sure that the players don't lose focus and continue to play hard:
"It's like we do every week. You can't concern yourself with what a team did before or what they did five weeks ago. Each and every game in this League is a different dynamic. They are playing very hard, competitive football. Every game that we've played with Carolina since our staff has been here has been very close; it's come down to one or two possessions. I anticipate it's going to be the same type of game. Head coach John (Fox) is going to have his team ready to go."
On the defense wanting to improve against the run:**
"We did not play the run like we wanted to last week. They are running the ball fairly effectively even though they don't have one back that has a lot of yards, they have three backs I believe that have over 350 yards. They can run the football and I think with Jeff Davidson, their offensive coordinator, and John (Fox) and with the young quarterback that they've been playing they want to be able to run the ball. That sets up the pass game for them to throw the ball out there to WR Steve Smith. It's going to be a challenge. They do a very good job with their run blocking up front."
On how Panthers DE Charles Johnson is coming along for them:
"He's a game wrecker. He leads their team in sacks. He has seven and a half sacks. He's someone that we have to be aware of. I've been very impressed with his ability to rush the passer. To have seven and a half sacks through 12 games is impressive. He's a big, strong defensive lineman that can create strength mismatches and he's a pretty darn good athlete as well."
On whether he has any sympathy or empathy for Coach Fox in a tough situation:
"Each and every year you have a new roster and a new dynamic. That's just the way this League is, with free agency your roster is going to be changing each and every year. You prepare your team each and every week and it changes each and every week. Somebody asked me yesterday about if it was easy to be humbled in this game, and I said 'yeah, week to week for everybody, the coaches, players, and fans'. It's a very competitive League."
On whether he senses that this is like the Panthers 'Super Bowl':
"No I don't believe so. I think John is very workman like in the way that he prepares his team. They want to finish their fourth quarter off strong just like we do. I think every team in the League has that same mindset. I know John speaks in quarters, I've heard some of his players talk this week about that's what they want to do and it starts this week. It's the same thing for us, we want to make sure that we go over there and play efficient football. I think they're a very dangerous team. They've had the ball bounce against them and not their way. They haven't gotten the results that they want, but they are a very good football team."