Falcons head coach Mike Smith has his attention turned to Carolina rookie quarterback Jimmy Clausen, who has impressed Smith so far on film
On whether he had any doubts that RB Michael Turner may not be as productive this season:
"I had no doubt. I really think Michael had a good season last year until the injury. I think I made a mistake in terms of bringing him back too soon. It was a very good learning experience for me as a head coach in terms of probably bringing him back too early and unfortunately he reinjured his ankle. I think Michael is one of the toughest running backs in the League. When he's healthy he's tough to handle."
On Panthers QB Jimmy Clausen:
"I think Jimmy Clausen has a very good skill set in terms of playing quarterback in this League. He is a guy that of course is a rookie so he's going through the maturation process that all rookies go through. He's had some injury issues as well this season. I think he's got the skill set to be a very good quarterback. I've been impressed with what I've seen on film."
On whether he was referring to off the field preparation when he said CB Brent Grimes has matured this season:
"I believe that Brent has not only matured on the football field, but off the football field. That's really what I meant by that. He's really learned how to become a professional football player. It's not just athleticism and what you can do on the field, it's the work that you have to put in in the meeting rooms, and in the offseason to evaluate not only how much you know but also how much you need to get better for the upcoming season. I think Brent's done a great job. He's really bought in and has a very good understanding of our scheme."
On when he thinks that changed with Grimes:
"I really don't know the answer to that. It happens with different players at different times. For some guys it's after a good season, some guys it's after a poor season, some guys it's a contract year. I really don't know the answer to that. But I know this, of all our defensive backs Brent probably has the best understanding of our scheme right now."
On the individual honors a number of players have received this season, most recently WR Eric Weems being named NFC Special Teams Player of the Week:
"I think it talks about the depth of our football team. We've got a number of guys that have gotten individual honors and those individual honors are great for the individual but it also says a lot about our football team. I'm very pleased for Eric, because Eric not only does things in the return game but he's one of our leading tacklers in terms of special teams tackles. He does a great job as a vice on the punt team. He does a very good job covering kickoffs as well. He's a guy that plays on our big four and it's well deserved."
On how difficult the division game against the Panthers will be:
"This is a very big game. Carolina, you can't talk about their record, what happened last week or what happened in the previous weeks it really has no bearing on how the game is going to be played this week. The dynamics of each game takes on its own meaning on that Sunday. They've played some very tough games. I think head coach John Fox is one of the top coaches in the NFL, he has been for a long time. Every time we've played the Carolina Panthers it's come down to a possession or two deciding who's going to be the winner."
On whether the Panthers season reminds him of how humbling the NFL can be:
"I think you can look each week and find out how humbling this league is, in terms of how you go out and perform. It's so close in terms of the level of competition between the top teams and the bottom teams. Again, it's a bounce here, it's a bounce there, it's a call that goes your way that sometimes determines who's going to win and lose the games. That's just the way it is. Each and every week is a very humbling experience, not only for the players but for the coaches and the fans as well."