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Transcripts: Mike Smith and Tony Gonzalez Interviews

Head coach Mike SmithOn adjusting to having more time to prepare:

"Our first day of the week was really a Falcons-on-Falcons day trying to get us back from our days off. We really worked on a lot of technique things that we feel we need to get better. Of course, the other emphasis was third down."

On S William Moore and CB Asante Samuel being able to practice today:

"No they were not. Both, William and Asante did not practice again today. There were really no changes on our injury report. Those two guys, we hope to see if we can get them out to move around a little bit tomorrow."

On being more cautious with Samuel this time around:

"Most certainly. He was able to only play three plays and he fell on the shoulder. We're going to definitely be very cautious and make sure he's ready to go. He wants to be out there playing, I know that, but we have to make sure that he gets cleared by the doctors before we put him out there. We're hoping he'll get out here just a little bit tomorrow."

On wanting home field advantage:

"When you talk about home field advantage, everyone wants to play their games at home. We have an opportunity if we play well the final quarter of the season to accomplish the opportunity to play at home. I really believe any time you have a chance to play at home, you would rather play at home than on the road."

On the Panthers being a dangerous team:

"Very dangerous team. This team played us right to the wire last time. They're a very physical football team on defense. They've got an offense that's very explosive. When we've played them they've been tight games since we've been here. I anticipate it's going to be another hard fought game over in Charlotte."

On what's different about this team starting these last four games:

"The start of this fourth quarter is very important for us. In terms of what happened a couple years ago, we've experienced that, so we know what to expect. A lot of our guys know that as you get closer to the second season you're going to be scrutinized more, and I think they have a much better feel for what's going to take place through the next four weeks."

On RB Jacquizz Rodgers being able to handle a heavier load:

"Absolutely. Jacquizz is one of many guys that we feel like deserves touches on our offense. If need be, we think he can take carries that other guys may get in other games. RB Michael Turner has been limited this week, but we anticipate he'll be ready to go on Sunday."

Tight end Tony GonzalezOn coming back after the break:

"It was good to get away for sure and kind of clear your mind here a little bit, but now it's back to business. We got a tough opponent this week in Carolina. We're not taking them lightly. If you look at what happened last game I mean they had us. If it wasn't for great plays by a couple guys we might've lost that one. It's important we go out there and stay focused coming off this mini-bye week and get ready to play."

On the approach of these last four games changing now that the division is clinched:

"Our whole mindset is we have to keep going out there and getting better. This is when you want to really hit your stride as a team and start playing some really good football. We have and we can. That's what we're working hard for is to hit the playoffs running and ready to go."

On the importance of beating Carolina the first game:

"That helped. I think I said it after the game that helps confidence right there. Winning a game that you probably shouldn't of and pulling it out at the end, being able to dig deeper and come up with a play when you had to. Since then, we've been able to come up with those plays when we had to. It's definitely a confidence builder, but it's also a wakeup call that 'hey, if you want to go where you think you can go and be the type of team that we think we can be, we got to play a little bit better than that.' We can't do that and think we're going to go where we want to go."

On the difference between the two teams in close games:

"I've been on that type of team in Kansas City where we won two games, but I think every game was three or four points as far as the loss goes. I don't know what it is about the bounce of the ball. Good teams find a way to win. It just shows you how close it is. It could go either way. It's those good teams that win those close games and we've been very fortunate because we are a good football team."

On playing better on third downs after the struggling with them against New Orleans:

"I think it starts at practice. It starts with everybody being on the same page. There were a couple of times we were not on the same page. Coming back to our base type package of plays. Plays that worked for us in the past. We'll correct it. It just goes that way sometimes and you got to be able to bounce back next week and convert. Like I keep saying, it's one of those things that I keep saying that it's now or never. We need to start being more consistent on third down all over. It's just overall play as a team. We've got to be more consistent if we're going to be the type of team that can do some damage in the playoffs."

On things he will work on personally:

"I'm always doing something. Getting workouts, stretching, getting some mental reps. This time of year, every week you know what's going into the game. It's not too many new plays. The defense that we're going to be playing maybe they'll add one or two blitzes, but you pretty much know what you're going to be facing that week as far as your preparation and your opposing team's preparation. You just have to find things. I watch film to pick up on tendencies. Really, it's a mental game and trying to be consistent on each play. That's taking it one game at a time and one play at a time and being the best player you can be each play. That sounds cliché, but that's honestly how you make it happen in this League."

On the attitude in this locker room:

"I love it. The unity in this locker room has always been great no matter what our record has been. There are no jerks on this team. There are no cancers on this team. Guys love to come to work, love to compete, and love to get better. Kind of a young attitude type team with guys like LB Sean Weatherspoon, CB Asante Samuel brings a lot of energy to the group. Even the old guys, LB Mike Peterson same way, WR Harry Douglas, it's guys that enjoy what they're doing and love to come to work and love to be around the guys on this team. I think that transfers over to the field and makes a difference."

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