Transcripts: Smith, Ryan Press Interviews

Head coach Mike Smith
On the decision to go with the permanent captains:

"Well, it was a decision that we discussed over the bye week as a coaching staff, and we wanted to give some guys the opportunity to lead us in the second half of the season. Usually we vote at the end of the year, but we felt that it was appropriate with the type of season we were going through the first half that we wanted to make some changes and we did. I thought that there's a lot of guys that are deserving to being a captain, but the six guys that we chosen are have been outstanding leaders for us."

On the age group of the team changing and whether that had to do with having young captains:

"Absolutely, the makeup of our roster is different, but we used to have a very large over 30 club. We use to have a committee, but we don't call it the over 30 club because the majority of the guys that are on that committee are under 30. There's some guys that is a second year player that was chosen as a captain. Antone Smith was chosen as a captain. It just talks about the makeup of our team, and how the rest of the team felt those young guys could lead."

On whether he sees anything wrong with Cam Newton:

"I think Cam Newton is a Pro Bowl quarterback. He's always an issue for when we play him, in terms of getting him on the ground when he runs the ball on design runs. He's a guy that can scramble, puts a lot of stress running, and he's not always running to run; he can be scrambling to throw, and he's got a big arm. I think he's playing outstanding football this season."

On whether Devin Hester and Harry Douglas missed practice today:

"Yes, we had three guys that did not participate in practice today. The two that you mentioned and Jonathan Scott. Then we had two guys that were limited participants and that was Jonathan Massaquoi and Justin Blalock. Those were the guys that will be on our injury report."

On Devin Hester's injury:

"Devin's got an ankle. He's got an ankle. We anticipate Devin will be out on the practice in a limited basis tomorrow."

On Justin Blalock's injury:

"Blalock has a foot. Again, he was a limited participant we just didn't give him his normal reps."

Drew Davis update:

"Drew Davis was full today. Again, we're in the second week of a 21-day period that we have to make a decision whether we want to activate him, but he was a full participant probably because we were down two wide receivers he probably took more snaps than he would normally take."

Quarterback Matt Ryan
On being named a team captain for the rest of the year:

"It's a big honor and a big responsibility. I feel like I owe it to the guys to always give my best day in and day out. I'm going to try and lead as best as I can, the same way I have up until this point. It's certainly nice, and a really nice honor from my teammates."

On whether it's wild to be sitting at 3-6 and still be one game behind first place:

"It's kind of different how this season has shaken out, specifically within our division. I think at this point it's exciting. We're in November; we're right in the mix. Obviously, we'd like to have played better up until this point, but it is what it is, we're right in the mix. We got everything we want right in front of us, and we've got to play the football we're capable of playing moving forward. I think everybody's excited about that."

On how no team has repeated as champion of this division:

"That's probably one of the more strange phenomenon. We'd like to be at the right end of that here at same point. This year is what it is. It's shaken out the way it has. We're in November; we're right in the mix. We're excited about that. We're excited about competing, and trying to knock one off at a time and hopefully have a chance to keep playing in January."

On what was different when they played Tampa Bay this past Sunday:

"Our personnel was different. On our offensive line we had a bunch of different guys playing than we had the first time. I really think our offensive line did a really nice job going against Tampa last week. They had Gerald McCoy back last week too, which was huge for them. He's a disruptive player, and our guys stepped up to that challenge and played really well. I think from a scheme standpoint there are adjustments that are made by both teams. They did some things differently; we did some things differently. Ultimately, we did enough to get the job done, and at the end of the day that's what counts. You got to find a way to get it done week-to-week."

On having no penalties on third down and in the fourth quarter and can that carry over to the next game:

"I think we've always been a low penalized team since Smitty's been here. That gives you a chance every time; you're playing smart football that gives you a chance. I think the thing that was good for us that we hadn't done up until this point in the season is we played really well in the fourth quarter. We played our best football in the fourth quarter, and at the end of the day that's what you need to do to win in this League. It's so competitive week-to-week that it comes down to what you're going to do in those last couple of drives of the game, and we found a way to get it done."

On how dangerous Carolina will be after the big loss to Philadelphia this past Monday:

"Obviously, they're going to want to come out and play better than they did, but it comes down to execution. At the end of the day, we're both going to be excited to play this game; we're both going to be fired up, but once you kind of get through the initial stage of that game then it comes down to making plays and executing at a high level. I'm sure they'll be ready; I'm sure they'll be prepared, and we're going to be the same way. We're going to be ready; we're going to be prepared. Anytime you play in the division you know it's going to be a tough 60 minute game."

On whether him and Thomas DeCoud came in the same year:

"Yes, Thomas and I were in the same draft class."

On going against Thomas DeCoud for the first time after six years on the same team:

"Thomas, obviously, very good player was with us for a long time, very productive. Won a lot of games with Thomas here, and he knows our scheme. He's practiced against every day for a long time, so we'll have to make some adjustments. We always do that kind of in-division to make sure that we'll break a few tendencies and do some things a little bit differently. Again, after you get through that it comes down to going out there and executing and making plays. We've got to be aware of where he's at because he's a very good player, but we've got to focus on ourselves."

On what the game plan is for this week, and Steven Jackson's 81 yard performance last week:

"That's huge. Running the football is big. I thought collectively we ran the ball really well, and moving forward you'd love to strike that right balance of running the football and throwing the football, so that it makes it tough for a defense to defend you. When you keep them off balance it makes it a little bit easier offensively, but the key to it was, both running the football and throwing the football, we stayed ahead of the chains. That's kind of a point of emphasis for us coming off the bye week was to stay in front of the chains and give ourselves second and shorts and third and shorts, and we were able to do that."

On what's changed about Carolina's defense:

"I still thinks it's a really, really talented defense. I think there's some differences in personnel. Obviously, two new safeties for them; two guys we're really familiar with in Roman Harper and Thomas DeCoud. They've got some different personnel in the front four, but again, I think two of the better linebackers in the League in Thomas Davis and Luke Kuechly. Sometimes stats can kind of tell any story that you want to make them tell. To me when you turn on the tape is still a very good, physical defense."

On what he's thankful for this Thanksgiving:

"I'm thankful for a lot of things. I'm thankful for my family and my wife. I'm thankful to have great teammates, great support within the organization. Thankful to have been drafted in Atlanta, and to have been here the last six years."

On how he thinks his season has gone so far:

"I talk about it all the time, you've got deliver winning performances and we haven't done it collectively and personally a good enough job of that across the board. We've got seven games to go, and the way that we play, the way that I play in the next seven games I think will tell the story of our football team and myself personally this year."

On whether there's an extra burden to carry this team out of this hole:

"No different than every week. As a quarterback you play a big role and your fingerprint is kind of all over a game, but it's bigger than me; it really is. It takes 53 guys to go out there and practice during the week, and then it takes the 46 that are active on game day to all pull their weight. I've always felt like I've got to pull my weight, however much it is, I've got to pull it. That's been my mindset since I've been here."

On teammates saying he's been more vocal lately:

"I think it changes with the people that are around you. Each team, each locker room is different year-to-year. I think leadership needs to be flexible, and you need to be able to adapt to the guys that are in your locker room. I do think leadership is flexible, it needs to be flexible. I've needed to be different at different times."

On whether he feels with this team he needs to be a little bit more vocal:

"I think at the right opportunity sometimes you have to speak up, and sometimes at the right opportunity you need to keep your mouth shut. You got to strike the right balance, but at certain times in the last couple of weeks or this year I've had to speak up."

On Roddy White being a few yards away from 10,000 reception yards and where he ranks him in the League:

"I'm biased. I think Roddy has had an unbelievable career, and certainly has been a tremendous player, one of the top wide receivers in the League since I've been in the League. Whether or not he's underrated outside, I don't know because I always think he's one of the very best. He's been a great teammate, and I hope he gets that opportunity this week to pass it, or at some point later this season to pass it."

On how much the Panthers miss Greg Hardy in their pass rush:

"Obviously, he's a very good player. It's tough to replace that production with one single guy, but I still think they do a good job with the guys that they have. I mean Charles Johnson's still an elite pass rusher. I think Luke Kuechly and Thomas Davis are about two of the best linebackers in the League, and they do a great job in their pressure package of rushing the passer. Obviously, they'd love to have Greg out there, but I still think they've got a very formidable and tough defense."

On the Panthers defense struggling statistical numbers:

"Well, I think statistics can kind of show a funny thing. They were put in a tough position last week, two turnovers early in the game, put in a tough spot defensively. That makes it tough. How games shake out kind of dictates how statistics go. When you watch the film and watch cut-ups individually I think that you see that they do a good job both against the run and the pass. I think the statistics are a little misleading; I still think they're a very, very good defense."

On how tough it is to play cornerback in this League:

"I don't feel bad for them. Our guys maybe they should call it the other way, but everybody else I don't feel too bad. It does make it tough; the size and speed of wide receivers across the League makes it difficult, and the rules are set up the way they are. I don't feel too bad."

On whether the trend will be to pick up bigger cornerbacks:

"I think bigger, faster, stronger it always kind of trends in that direction. The next generation of guys will be better, be a little bit more athletic, be a little bit faster, a little bit bigger, so we'll see how it shakes out."

On having confidence in Devin Hester after the dropped TD pass:

"I think it's huge. We have a ton of confidence in Dev. He's done a great job since he's been here. He's made a ton of plays for us, and those kind of things happen. We all make mistakes. I know for me personally, after a pick, or something like that, you love to just get that ball back in your hand and make your next play. I thought it was good job by Dirk (Koetter) of getting the ball back in his hand, and getting him back into rhythm."

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