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Transcript: Mike Smith Post-Practice Interview


Falcons head coach raved about Saints quarterback Drew Brees after practice Thursday, saying Brees deserves to be mentioned with other top-tier quarterbacks in the league

On the injury report:

"I think we're going to be in good shape out there. We had three guys that didn't participate today. DE John Abraham was on his maintenance program. WR Roddy White was on his maintenance program as well as LB Curtis Lofton. Those three guys have been on that program for a number of weeks now. We had three guys that basically took limited reps and we anticipate they will be back with full reps tomorrow and that was FB Ovie Mughelli, DT Jonathan Babineaux and WR Eric Weems."

On whether he talked to Roddy White about the comments he made on Twitter on Wednesday:

"You know when I talk to a player, I keep those conversations private. So, yes I have talked to Roddy but I hope you guys understand that those conversations are going to be between Roddy and myself."

On "bulletin board" material:

"I think anything that's said during the week is not going to have a whole lot of bearing on the game. This is two competitive football teams, New Orleans and our team, and we're going to go out and compete on Monday. We've had some really close games since we've been here. We know that we've got to play our best to get the outcome that we want."

On whether he sees more excitement from his team this week being that it is a nationally televised Monday night game:

"I think it's a stage that we've been on earlier in the season, in terms that we had a Thursday night game so we'll be able to grab from that experience in terms of sequencing our meetings and getting prepared on gameday. Our guys understand where we're at and it's a crucial game for both teams."

On Saints LB Danny Clark:

"Danny has done a nice job for them. I had Danny in Jacksonville. Danny is one of the most physical linebackers that I've ever had the opportunity to coach. He's really done a nice job at their sam linebacker position. He is a very strong guy that's been around for a long time, I think he's probably in year 11 or 12 right now. He has a very good understanding of the game."

On where Saints QB Drew Brees ranks in terms of upper echelon quarterbacks:

"There's no doubt that Drew needs to be mentioned with all those guys. His completion percentage and his ability to distribute the ball has just been unbelievable. He's a great fit for head coach Sean Payton's offensive scheme and what they want to do. He's almost completing 70 percent of his passes and last year I believe he was over 70 percent if I'm not mistaken. To do that you've got to have a very good understanding of the scheme and where to go with the ball. He's one of the smartest quarterbacks that's played the game."

On Saints WR Lance Moore:

"He's done a lot of damage to a lot of teams. To me they've got not only stable wide receivers, they've got three tight ends if TE David Thomas is available to them this week. Then they've got three running backs that can catch the ball. RB Pierre Thomas does a very good job catching the ball prior to his injury and, of course, RB Reggie Bush. But, back to Lance, Lance is a guy that I think is quicker than fast. He's a very good route runner. He catches the ball. He's a contributor on special teams. He's just one of the many weapons that they can throw it you."

On TE Jimmy Graham:

"Jimmy Graham has really come along in the last month or so of the season. His numbers have gone up in terms of his participation. He had a good of a catch as any tight end I've ever seen there on the touchdown pass against the Ravens on Sunday afternoon. He's a very athletic guy and he's a guy that can block on in-line plays as well. I think that they've really got a good player in him."

On whether he feels like there is a lack of national recognition:

"I think you get what you earn in this league. Our perception is that we don't concern ourselves with the people outside of our building. That's the way we've approached this and we know if we play good and play well then good things are going to happen. I don't think the stage (Monday night) is going to be too big. We've had an opportunity already on Thursday night to play and I think our guys handled it very well. We're getting ready for a divisional game against a very good football team, the defending Super Bowl champs and we're going to have our hands full. It will be a fun night at the dome I can assure you of that."

On whether they are trying to take some aspects of the Saints team away Monday or are they just scheming solid:

"I think that you've got to go in there philosophically with an idea of how you want to defend someone. I think it really depends on how the offense presents their personnel groupings and also the formations. You can't go in there saying you're going to stop everything so you're going to have to go in there and make a decision based on how their trying to attack you and on how you're going to defend them. Our offense is going to create the same type of issues for their defense. I think it's two evenly matched teams. When you look at the two offenses you've got the number one and number two team on third down conversions. Which means they keep the time of possession in their favor. They're right behind us in time of possession. I think it's going to be evenly matched. It may be a little bit different in how teams present what they do, but the results are very similar. I think the records show that and some of the key statistics show that."

On the Saints having all of their running backs back and whether that will make their running game more difficult to defend:

"I think it will. I think that we were fortunate in the game that we played in New Orleans in terms of RB Pierre Thomas went out in that ballgame, RB Chris Ivory was more of an unknown. He's come along and run the ball very well. I know he missed the game last week but we anticipate that he'll be at full speed. RB Reggie Bush was not active in our first game and we know the challenges that he creates for our defense and our special teams. They can run the football and Sean is a guy that's going to make sure that he's got all his I's dotted and his T's crossed. I know he's going to try to attack us."




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