Head coach Mike SmithOn the Lions running backs:
"It's a challenge because we know they have two different running styles. We know that Reggie Bush is a guy that you have to keep leveraged because he'll take the ball any which way. He'll run 80 yards to gain 20 yards. We've got to do a very good job leveraging him. Joique Bell is much more of a traditional down-hill runner. I think you'll see him more on first and second down, not necessarily in their passing formations. He's their leading rusher, and he's done a very good job. He runs down behind his pads, and has good vision in the hole."
On what makes the Detroit Lions defense work:
"Well, they're playing very well together. The defense line has a penetrating style that they want to create negative yardage plays, either by them penetrating and making the play, or by them penetrating and forcing the ball carrier to run sideways, and their linebackers are run and hit guys. They're not real big; they're about 235 lbs., but they run extremely well. (DeAndre) Levy is playing about as good as any linebacker in League right now. They're playing with a lot of confidence. Their numbers show that they're top in most of the important statistics that we look at when we evaluate defenses."
On whether they've shown areas where they can attack:
"I think their ability to rush, and get up field is a strength, but you can also create different levels, and you may be able to pop some runs there. It's going to be very important for us to control that front four. They're not a big blitzing team; they're very much set on rushing with four, more so bringing a fifth, or a sixth rusher. We're going to have to slow those guys down."
On Harry Douglas and Jonathan Babineaux's progress:
"Today when you get the injury report you'll see that Harry will participate in practice on a limited basis today. We're hoping to get Jonathan Babineaux out to practice tomorrow, and get him some limited reps, and we'll just have to see how both those guys handle their work load over the next couple of days to see what their game status will be."
On how their running game can help the offensive struggles:
"Well, we have to be able to run the ball, especially on first down, and we have not done that efficiently on run downs, which we consider our first and 10s, or second and one to sixes. We've got to be more efficient; when you run the ball efficiently you put yourself in much better third down situations, so it's going to be important for us to establish the run against a very good run defense this week."
On DeAndre Levy:
"He was a sub 4-6 guy coming out, so he's a guy that comes downhill, and he's very quick. When you are having to put four hands on those defensive lineman, and he's coming downhill he's winning a lot of his battles because of his spend. Then, if you come off to quickly that's when the defensive tackles will make their plays. We haven't even been talking about their defensive ends. They've got three guys that were drafted in the first round, I believe all in the first 15 picks of the draft, and they're definitely playing to that level, thus far in the season."
On the Lions secondary:
"Glover Quinn's playing very good. He's a converted cornerback that's now playing safety. Rashean Mathis, who we had in Jacksonville – who I coached and actually drafted when we were there in Jacksonville – he's been doing it a long time. He's been playing with a lot of confidence. They've got lots of guys that have been able to put pressure on the quarterback across the board, and when you look at their sack totals there's not one guy that's putting up a whole bunch of numbers. They've got a couple of DB's that's got two or three sacks, and they're spreading it around. They're playing very good team defense right now."
On how the players have adjusted to London:
"They've done a very nice job. I think the way that we prepared that we approached this, we wanted to make it as close to a normal week as we possibly can. We were off on Tuesday; I think that the players got an opportunity to do some sightseeing, but once we started our team meeting on Wednesday our focus has been solely on the Detroit Lions and going through a normal week. We had walk-thru this morning; we'll have our afternoon practice this afternoon, so we'll finish up here on Saturday morning and then head down, check into a hotel closer to the stadium, which is what we do when we play in Atlanta, and this, by-the-way, is a home game for the Atlanta Falcons."
On Steven Jackson's experience of playing in London and whether they used him for help:
"Yes. We used Steven as a resource. Steven Jackson has played here. When we were putting together our schedule, and our plan, we asked what they had done before, and what his thoughts were on it. He gave me a lot of insight on what the players are thinking, and what they may be doing. I think you've got to have collaboration in anything that you do, and you want your players to be involved in some of these decisions, especially when it's a week-long trip over here."
On an NFL franchise being based in London:
"Well, I think that the League has done a lot of work and study on putting a team here in London. I think there are some logistical things that everybody is concerned about, but I think that the League has done lots of work on it, and I think they have some answers. I think it's probably going to happen sooner than later. I think football, American football, is becoming popular outside the United States. I think the NFL is in an expansion mode."
On some lessons he's learned as an NFL coach:
"Well, the NFL is very competitive. I think that it is the most competitive atmosphere that there is. You only get 16 opportunities to go out and perform, and you're solely judged on those 16 opportunities, so you have to have your football team prepared, and you have to be prepared to improvise and adjust, not only through game day, but throughout the entire year. Building a roster with the salary cap creates issues, so it's a very rewarding experience something that I enjoy doing. As my wife says, you're still playing it, you're getting paid to do it. Some days are tougher than others, but you got to have a good organization, and we have a great organization that starts with our owner, Arthur Blank. Then the relationship with our General Manager, Thomas Dimitroff; he does a great job of providing us with players. We've got to go out and play better this week though."
On Matt Ryan depending on his feet more than anything this season, and stopping Matt Stafford from rushing:
"Well, Matt (Ryan) is a guy that can extend plays, and he's done a very good job this year and he really scrambles to throw; he doesn't scramble to run, but when the receivers are covered he has run the ball much better this year. It's going to be important that we have integrity in our rush lanes. That's the first thing, we have to have good pressure on the quarterback, but we have to make sure we have to have all the lanes clogged up. He will step up, and when he steps he can then buy time, and they've got a couple of wide receivers that can make it tough on our guys this week."
On the offensive line injuries and how it affects Matt Ryan and the receiving core:
"Yes, we have injuries. Every team has injuries. Unfortunately, we've been hit at the offensive line, but we've got confidence in the players that are going to be called on to step up and play this week. We've got to do a good job as a coaching staff putting together a plan that plays to their strengths, and that's what coaching is all about, but we have all the confidence in the world in the guys that are going to be playing for us this week."
On Calvin Johnson's status and his game plan for him:
"Well, you've got to know where he is when he's playing, so there is a bit of an unknown you have to prepare like he is going to play because if he does play you have to know where he's going to line up, and you're going to have to spend more resources defending him. We also have to have a plan if he doesn't play. He was limited in practice yesterday. We are anxiously waiting to see what his status was for today, which in turn will force us to make some decisions on what we're going to put in, in terms of our game plan. You've got to make sure that you're not playing him one-on-one very often because he's one of the elite wide receivers in all of football."
On cross training the offensive line:
"We've been cross training all of our guys all season long. We talk about how important it is, and we've had to do it. Again, in the Minnesota game a few weeks ago we had one guy play four different positions, and another play three. We feel that Harland has the ability to play both center and guard, and he has been working at those two positions. James Stone will be the starter, and then Harland will be the backup at both guard and center.