What They Said

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Thursday night's final preseason game was about getting extended looks at many of the backups competing for spots on the final 53-man regular season roster. Decisions on those final positions will be made by the league deadline of Tuesday. Smith shared his opinion of the preseason record following the game. One of the standouts on Thursday was running back Devonta Freeman, whose tremendous night may help his cause considerably. New additions Kelvin Hayden and James Sanders were on hand on the sideline, but didn't dress out for the game. Their additions appear to be valuable experienced depth to an otherwise young secondary.

    • Head coach Mike Smith's opinion of the preseason is pretty evident. He expressed after the game that he wants to win every contest, but the preseason priorities are a little different: "To say am I disappointed, yes I'm disappointed. To say am I concerned, no I'm not concerned. This football team is a very mature football team and we had a plan in place in terms of things that we had to get accomplished looking at, and I think we've been able to do that through the preseason."
    • New signee Kelvin Hayden said he sees similarities with the Falcons' defense and the one he ran with in Indianapolis when they won a Super Bowl. As for the type of player he's going to be with the Falcons, it's going to be one consistent with what the league saw in his previous stop and one that will serve what the Falcons need: "I'm a physical type of guy. I like my nose around the ball. I like to consider myself a playmaker as well; someone who's going to make plays when the opportunity presents itself. I'm a guy who's just going to have fun and enjoy what I do but take care of business."
    • Antone Smith had the kind of night that is tough for coaches to ignore. He rushed for over 100 yards and added 46 yards receiving. He was just trying to take advantage of the opportunity he knew was coming. He's happy knowing he did his best and can move on to a new opportunity even if he doesn't land in Atlanta: "It feels pretty good. All I'm trying to do is my job. Decisions are going to be made by the guys in the office. I'm fine just going out there and laying it on the line. That's what I did tonight and just made plays when my number was called. I'm going to try to sleep good tonight and just wake up and hope I'm still here. You never know what is going to happen."
    • The other new addition this week was safety James Sanders, formally of the New England Patriots. Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff is very familiar with Sanders from his time as a scout with the Patriots. The seven-year vet will add experienced depth to the Atlanta secondary. He also brings valuable leadership and he sees that as a plus as he steps into his first new locker room as a pro: "I just come in and work hard. Lead by example, first of all. This team is new to me and I'm new to them. I'm just going to come in and work hard each and every day and show them that I'm here to help the team."
  • Head coach Smith is happy to have the two veteran additions and is his staff will work overtime to get both players adapted to the Falcons' system quickly: "We are always trying to better our roster. That is our goal, to have the best 53 guys that we possibly can. We think that both of these guys are going to strengthen our roster and make us a better football team. We're looking forward to starting to work with them tomorrow. We actually started to work with them tonight. They were on the sideline getting the calls trying to get as much information as they can about our defensive scheme so we can indoctrinate these guys into our system as quickly as possible."
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