Transcripts: Smith, Ryan Press Interviews

Head coach Mike Smith
Update on Julio Jones:

"As I said, I wasn't going to play the Julio watch game. We'll make a decision on 10:30 on Sunday morning when we put in our inactives. That'll be the last time I'm going to talk about Julio."

Injury Report:

"The guys that didn't participate in practice today were Julio Jones, Roddy White, Harry Douglas, William Moore and Jon Asamoah. They were all did not participate, and they'll be the only ones that'll be listed on our injury report."

On Keenan Lewis calling this game a funeral for the Falcons and trying to keep focused on the game:

"The conference call this morning somebody asked me if I had heard it, I hadn't heard about it. When we play one another it's usually a very competitive football game, and I anticipate it's going to be competitive again on Sunday. We all know what we're playing for, in terms of New Orleans and Atlanta, so it ought to be a heck of a ball game."

On causing turnovers against New Orleans:

"Drew does a very good job. We've got to win the turnover battle. Right now they're 1-6 when they don't win the turnover battle this season. I think that's probably the biggest 'must' that we have to get accomplished is we've got to make sure that we don't turn the ball over, and when we get an opportunity to take it away we take it away."

On Roddy White's ankle injury:

"I think it'll be listed as the same."

On whether it's the biggest game of Matt Ryan and his career:

"It's not. It's an important game for us. We know what's in front of us. They're still two weeks left in the season, and we're still a relevant football team. We're playing a very good team that both know what they have to get done to get to the second season. It's an important football game for both teams."

On slowing down Mark Ingram:

"Sean (Payton) wants to run the football. It sets up his passing game. It sets up his ability to throw the ball down the field. Ingram's run the ball very well. He's probably close to a 1,000 yards rushing. It's going to be important for us to stop the run. I thought we did a good job last week, so that's not going to have any bearing on what we do this week. We've got to go out and execute against a different scheme, in terms of what they're going to try to do."

On Robert McClain playing with more confidence on the outside corner position:

"He did make a nice play (last week). Again, it's a lot easier to play on the outside cause you've got the boundary to help you. When you're inside you've got receivers that really have two-way-go's. Robert's done a nice job. I think he's playing with more confidence, like Mike (Nolan) said yesterday. In terms of the pass break up that he had in the ball game last week was a big one cause it was there in the end zone."

Quarterback Matt RyanOn whether he approaches this game like a playoff game:

"Yeah. We're at the point of the season we know where we're at. We know what we've got to do. We've got to prepare as best as we can. Ultimately, we've got to find a way to get it done on Sunday. I think you do that, is you make sure that you cross everything off during the week, and you're as prepared as you can be to cut it loose and play your best on Sunday."

On whether the approach changes this game:

"I think everybody knows. Everybody understands the situation. Everybody understands what time of the year it is, where we're at, and what's in front of us. I think Coach Smith has done a great job of setting the schedule up to have everybody as rested, as fresh, and as prepared as we possibly can be. I think that's kind of the message throughout the building. It's about preparation. It's about doing what you can do today to be successful Sunday. That's what we have to focus on right now."

On whether or not they'll take more chances this game since everything is on the line:

"That's kind of a coaching staff decision, and that's one of those things that we leave up to those guys. From a player's perspective, I think these kind of games, especially division games late in the year, important football games it comes down to hitting when you have the opportunity. It's about making the play when they present themselves. From a player's standpoint, that's where your focus has to be all week. We've got to make sure we understand our plan, and when things come open and we have chances that we nail it."

On having a plan for Julio Jones not playing:

"Well, that's kind of the case this time of the year. That's the case, not only with Julio, but all kinds different positions. This time of the year guys are nicked up, so we'll have our plans made for whether or not he's ready to go. Again, that's one of our deepest positions on this team. I think we've got five guys behind him that are capable of stepping up and making plays."

On it being Julio Jones and how he leads the League in receiving yards:

"I know how good Julio is. I know exactly how good he is, but again, you've got to prepare for either, and we'll see what happens."

On the Saints defense:

"I think they're opportunistic. Again, statistics are what they are. They happen in different games, and they've given up some big plays, but at the same time they've made some big plays. Last week creating the turnovers that helped them win that football game. They're tough, we know that going into it, and they're physical. They play with great passion. In these kind of division games that always shows up."

On scoring touchdowns in the red zone:

"I think it's important. I think obviously, New Orleans is a very good offense, but anytime late in the year and when you're playing any good football team it's huge when you have your opportunities you've got to hit them, specifically in the red zone. When you've got point scoring opportunities you've got to come away with seven. That'll be a point of emphasis for us all week. We'll work really hard in the red zone and hopefully have a great plan and execute it really well."

On whether being in this position adds more spice to this rivalry:

"This one always tends to be fairly enthusiastic. It's fun to be a part of that. I think with where we're at and what's on the line, everybody understands what it is. At the end of the day, all that stuff is fun to talk about, and fun to write about, but when you get on the field in between the lines it all goes out. It comes down to playing the game, and playing it well."

On whether they can play to 'tight' in big games:

"Well, I think everybody's different. I think in terms of everybody getting themselves ready during the week, and all that goes into mentally, physically, emotionally; I think everybody's different. For me it's getting yourself as prepared as you can be, knowing your plan inside and out, and then trusting your ability and being confident in the skill set you have. I think guys in the locker room buy into that."

On how important it is for him to be protected and get rid of the ball quicker:

"It's really important. I think the front seven is very good, and they were very, very good last week. I think it's going to be important for us on the road to be able to communicate well, in terms of our pass protection schemes to be able to identify the different looks that Rob Ryan gives you. He's very multiple, changes personnel groupings very well, and puts a lot of pressure on your identification and communication. That's an area that we need to be razor sharp this week."

On his impression of Drew Brees and whether he takes things from him:

"Drew Brees has been a great player for a long time, and certainly a guy that I'm sure everybody in the League turns on their tape, just to see the type of production that he is put forward and that offense has put forward since he's been in New Orleans. He's a great competitor, and he is as good as anybody at making plays when they present themselves."

On whether there's something that he takes from his game:

"I think it's more just taking a look at what they do offensively. Your skill set is probably a little bit different, but there's certainly some things that they do from a schematic standpoint that we've looked at."

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