Transcripts: Mike Smith, Steven Jackson Interviews

Head coach Mike Smith

On todays practice:
"I thought it was a good second day in pads.  A lot of situations you guys saw, we were working on some two minute and some red zone, it was our first day in the red zone. We'll finish up tomorrow with some goal lines and some short yardage.  We'll have basically put our entire package in for the most part of the situations we need to be prepared for our scrimmage on Friday night.  We'll have a chance after an day off on Wednesday, on Thursday, to pull it all together."

On getting players to the first game without injuries:
"We make sure everybody is aware of what our number one objective is in training camp.  I think we started that back in OTA's and the mini-camp.  We stress we don't want to have anybody on the ground at the end of the play.  Through the first week of OTA's we spent time showing all the plays where there were guys on the ground and showed that some of them are avoidable and some of them aren't avoidable.  We try to show our guys and teach our guys what we want to get done in practice.  We were not thudding as much.  I say thudding in terms of the ball carrier, were whizzing, which means we were taking a good path to the ball and basically playing two hand touch below the waist.  We'll get our opportunities in very tight drill settings, where we'll get our contact work and then we'll have some on Friday night and we'll get ready to do a little bit against the Bengals in the dome."

On Stephen Jackson's size and him being able to be a linebacker 20 years ago:
"He would have been one of the biggest backs 20 years ago without a doubt.  He's a big, strong running back.  Everybody's gotten bigger.  I was talking with Randy Cross the other day, Randy's doing some media stuff out here; he was 260 pounds as a center/guard when he came in.  We have running backs which are 250-260 pounds now.  It has changed in the last 15 years. "

On Roddy White and Jonathan Babineaux being the longest tenured players and never missing a game:
"It says a whole lot about him.  Roddy is one of the most competitive guys I've ever been around.  When it's time to put the ball on the tee and kick it off he's ready to go.  He's got a great attitude when he does have an injury or he's got something that's tweaked.  You can't keep him out. That's the kind of guys you want to have.  Babineaux's been with us since we've been here so has Justin Blalock.  Justin hasn't missed a snap of a game since we've been here.  I don't know for sure, but I don't believe he's missed a snap at practice.  That says a lot about guys that know how to practice, to take care of their body.  When you have guys like that you're going to have a chance to have efficient practices.  That's what we're trying to do.  We're trying to have efficient practices.  We don't want to have fights.  We don't want to have guys doing things that they shouldn't be doing.  All that does is usually escalates into something that you don't want to have on the field.  It takes away from everything that we're trying to do."

On Friday night being the first practice without limitations:
"We will, in certain periods of the Friday night practice.  It will look in some points very similar to what you're seeing out here but there will be times when we'll allow the guys to go.  The only thing we won't allow, we won't allow blocking below the waist.  We don't want anybody cut blocking.  You will hear our guys yelling (cut, cut , cut) when they're supposed to be cutting somebody and hopefully the guy they were supposed to be cutting stops.  It doesn't always happen that way.  Those are the things that we do to try and make sure that our guys understand that they're not getting blocked but they're going to get cut in the game in that specific scheme."

On Friday night being an evaluation point:
"It's a very big evaluation point.  It's the first time these guys as NFL players will have an opportunity to tackle."

 
Running back Steven Jackson

On how he fits into the screen game Coach Dirk Koetter likes to use:
"Well, this team was pretty dynamic when it came to throwing screens, taking advantage of the defense being overly aggressive. We have a number of playmakers on this team, wherever I can fit in on the package, whether it's being a decoy or catching the screen making something happen down the field. I just have to learn every position."

On how he's so successful in the screen game:
"I've always taken pride in being a franchise back, and to do that you have to be able to catch the ball out of the backfield, as well as protect the quarterback. And I've just worked on that throughout the years."

On RB's decline after 30:
"I don't worry about it all. Typically, when you see numbers like that people are throwing out averages, scenarios that people are comfortable with going with because it's a trend. Like I've said before on record, I think each and every generation has a guy that breaks the mold, and I truly believe that I'm that running back for this generation."

On why he came to Atlanta:
"Well, football is the ultimate team sport, and after so long of being through so many tough years there (in St. Louis), and not even being able to compete in the postseason it takes a toll on you. The way the game is evolving, it's going to more of a passing league, and I know realistically my chances to win the Super Bowl are numbered. Atlanta presents a great opportunity for me to take advantage of. I've been blessed over the years, so I wanted to not take a step back or sideways, but to keep moving forward."

On whether or not they tried to change his position growing up:
"All the time, especially during the recruiting process during high school. I was highly recruited, so if I would've came anywhere east of the Mississippi they would've wanted me to play linebacker or defensive end. A lot of the scouts on the West Coast that had a chance to see me personally, and see me play knew I had the capability of being a running back."

On what his 40 time might be:
"I haven't run a 40 since 2004. Honestly, and I don't plan on it either."

On Friday Night Lights:
"I'm hearing a lot of great things about Friday Night Lights. The amount of people that have been here over the weekend has been impressive to me as well. People are very excited about Atlanta football, and what we're doing here as an organization. It'll be fun. The month of August is a fine tuning moment for me to make sure I have the correct timing with the offensive line. That I'm reading things the same way Matt (Ryan) is reading things in the check downs and route running. Progressively the fans will see more and more of the explosiveness and more of the things you guys have seen over the years from me. But come New Orleans, that's when you'll get the full package."

On his comfort level with the Falcons after all those years in St. Louis:
"The offense is not that different. It's the language, the lingo, of what we call things here, which took me a little bit of time in the spring to get used to. But I took my playbook home. I took a lot of notes, and I really just took the time out – an hour a day – to just really read over notes, and that's how I've been able to progress and move so fast in camp so far."

On talking to Jacquizz and James Rodgers about Oregon State:
"Actually, I knew those guys when they were there playing. I try to make it back once a year to a game. So, I was very familiar with those two guys, and it's very good to have both of them here at the same time."

On his perspective of Roddy White from afar and his opinion of him now:
"You know what, Roddy (White) is that guy – I've had a chance to spend a Pro Bowl with him before. So, when we play another opponent, video travels around the League, and when we're breaking down another defense, you can't help to see other playmakers around the NFL. And Roddy always stood out to me. He's an excellent route runner. He has a big body, and great body control. So to be able to see his success build over the years as well, it's been awesome for me now to be in the huddle with him."

On whether or not creating the artwork in his house out of license plates was his idea:
"No. Actually Michael Kalish – he's actually an Atlanta native – that's the medium that he uses. That's what he's known for."

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