Head Coach Bill O'Brien**
(on the status of QB Ryan Mallett) "He practiced today. He's doing fine."
(on if the roster moves made yesterday were to bolster special teams) "Well, we had some injuries at those positions and then trying to bolster the whole thing, bolster the roster."
(on if he's concerned about the special teams) "We've got to play better on special teams. We've all got to do better, it starts with me. We've got to do a better job coaching it. We've got to do a better job playing, no doubt about it."
(on what the problem is on special teams) "Oh no, it's never an effort problem. Never an effort problem. I think we've had too many penalties. We've missed some things. We've got to do a better job coaching the scheme of what we want, but it's never effort. These guys give great effort."
(on the status of RB Arian Foster and how much he participated in practice) "He practiced today. I promise you, I really don't know what all that means."
(on the difference between a full practice and limited practice) "I don't know. You'll have to ask the league and our medical people. I don't know. He practiced today, so we'll see leading up to game time. Like I said yesterday, how he feels and how much he thinks he can play."
(on how RB Arian Foster looks) "Good, good."
(on what he wants to see from RB Arian Foster) "Everything that I've seen."
(on what he's seen RB Arian Foster do) "Playing running back, doing the things a running back does."
(on using RB Arian Foster in the passing game) "Yeah, you never know."
(on if he will use RB Arian Foster a lot when he returns) "I'm not going there. I don't know what we're going to do with him. What do you think, I'm going to give you the game plan?"
(on using RB Arian Foster a lot) "He's a very, very good player. I'm sure he will be used in some capacity when he's ready to play."
(on if there's anything he wants to see from OLB Jadeveon Clowney that he hasn't yet) "No, no. I think he's progressing just fine."
(on if RB Arian Foster will be in a rotation of running backs) "I don't know. I don't know."
(on if the game will dictate how he uses RB Arian Foster) "No question."
(on if the team is in the best health it's been in) "I don't think there's any team in this league that's not dealing with injuries. We're all – 32 teams are dealing with injuries. I'm dealing with an injury. I got on the treadmill the other day, put it at nine, thought I was 22 years old again and ripped my hamstring. I feel like a fool. We're all dealing with injuries, coaches and players alike."
(on if he was a full participant in practice) "I felt pretty good out there."
(on Offensive Line Coach Mike Devlin) "He's a very good coach. He's very detailed. He's a really good communicator, an excellent teacher. I've learned a lot from Mike. I've learned a lot about technique and scheme. They did some really good things, especially in the running game, at New York. He's brought some of that to our team. He's just an excellent coach. Comes from a coaching family, as you guys know, he's dad coached here at a point in time with the Oilers. Guy grew up living in a coaching life, so he does a great job."
(on how Offensive Line Coach Mike Devlin has been able to deal with injures) "I think the key is the extra meeting time. I'll give you an example. When Oday Aboushi got here, which was now I think about 10 days ago, I would say every night after – usually after they get done watching the film, we have a staff meeting around 4, goes from about 4 to 5 or 4 to 6. Instead of Mike coming to that, he stays downstairs and he meets with Aboushi, or (Chris) Clark, or Xavier (Su'a-Filo), or whoever. I think a lot of it is the extra meeting and being able to teach these guys all those positions. Now as it relates to (Derek) Newton, since the day we got here, we've been moving Newton around."
(on moving ILB Max Bullough to the active roster) "We're trying to bolster everything and certainly trying to get some more production on special teams on our coverage units, so hopefully Max and Brian Peters, (Justin) Tuggle, hopefully those guys can help us there."
(on if S Rahim Moore and S Quintin Demps are playing more instinctive) "Yeah, they're good communicators. They're hard workers. They practice hard every day. I think Demps has come in here and really been very productive. I think we signed him in August, right? He's been very productive. I think Rahim is getting used to our defense more and more every day. He's a good player, too."
(on the Falcons running game) "(Devonta) Freeman and (Tevin) Coleman. I'm familiar with Coleman from when I was in the Big Ten. Freeman, this guy is really having a good year. He runs hard. He's got really good cutting ability. He's fast. He doesn't run out of bounds. He tries to run you over. He's a tough, tough running back. Coleman's got good speed. He's a bigger back, dynamic back. Yeah, they're very, very good."
(on if OLB Jadeveon Clowney has more freedom because of his knowledge of the defense) "That's a good observation. I would tell you that we try to move him around a lot. He's an instinctive guy. We don't think that he's just an outside linebacker or just a defensive end. We try to look at what the opponent's offense is going to do and see if we can get him into situations where after his film study he knows what to do. He is. I think he's learned a lot from the guys he's been around. (Brian) Cushing – in the meeting room every day with Cushing, very smart player. J.J. Watt, obviously, I would say is one of the smartest players I've ever been around. And then (Vince) Wilfork. I think those guys have really helped him to learn the game and know what to do. He's been able to apply that in some situations and hopefully it keeps coming together."
(on the chemistry between Offensive Coordinator George Godsey and QB Ryan Mallett) "There's good chemistry there. I was saying to somebody out on the practice field, you know, those guys are together a lot during the day, 7 a.m. position meeting and then 8 to 9:50 unit meetings, then after practice. So they're together for 4 or 5 hours a day, not including practice. I think the more you're together with somebody like that, and I would include (Brian) Hoyer there, too. They're all getting on the same page and they work very well together."
(on Offensive Coordinator George Godsey and QB Ryan Mallett being on the same page) "George is getting the call in and Ryan knows what we're looking for. Obviously, I'm very involved in that, too. But yeah, I think it's getting better and better. Hopefully, it improves on Sunday."
Defensive Coordinator Romeo Crennel
(on comparing Falcons WR Julio Jones to Texans WR DeAndre Hopkins) "They're both big receivers, got good hands, and catch the football. They're size helps them releasing to the route. With Julio, he's going very well so far. He presents a big challenge for us to try and slow him down."
(on what it will take for OLB Jadeveon Clowney to get his first sack) "Usually one more step will get him there. Hopefully, they will come soon. I know he's working very hard at it. He would like to get a sack, and if he keeps working, he will get one."
(on if facing big receivers helps prepare them for the Falcons) "Having faced big receivers that helps. Johnathan Joseph had a good game. It reinforced the technique of the position. When you play good technique and follow it all the way through the down, then you can make plays. So that was encouraging to see."
(on CB Kevin Johnson) "Kevin is a fast learner. He's a willing student. I think, like I said, he'll just keep getting better."
(on how much freedom DE J.J. Watt has pre-snap) "We give him some leeway once he understands the system. That goes with every player. If they understand the system, and where they're supposed to be, what area they're supposed to cover, then you can give him a little leeway to get to that area. The thing that you don't want, is you don't want everybody having a lot of leeway, which opens up big holes in the defense. I think also the ability of the player makes it difference in how much leeway he gets. You can give me a lot of leeway, but it takes me a lot of time to get where I need to be. J.J. can get there a lot quicker. I don't have as much leeway as J.J. has."
(on the Falcons rushing attack) "It was really impressive last week. Dallas has been playing decent defense and they kind of ran through them pretty good. They have a big offensive line. They're pretty active in trying to get to their landmarks and getting on defensive players and tying those guys up and giving the runner a chance to get to the edge. If he gets to the edge, he is up the field and gains big yards. But they're good enough also that, if you get the edge set on him, he can put his foot in the ground and come back down hill and find that day light. Because he runs hard, he runs through arm tackles. That allows him to gain yards, so we have to have a total defensive effort. Everybody's at the point of attack. They have to understand that in the running game, so that we can get the guy on the ground."
(on if QB Matt Ryan has been hit a lot this season) "Yeah, he's been hit. All quarterbacks get hit at some point. He does a good job of knowing where to go with the ball. When you've got a guy like Julio (Jones), Julio even though he might be covered, he gets open because of his length, his quickness on his first step, he can get inside of a fresh jam and boom Matt sticks him the ball. That allows Matt to make plays and then Matt likes to stand in the pocket and read and get rid of the ball. He sometimes gets hit, but he's a really good quarterback and he's shown it over the years."
(on if is careful about playing starting defensive players on special teams) "Well, do they help us win? Special teams is part of the game. If they can help us win, they need to help us win because at the end of the game, they don't look at who played special teams or who didn't play special teams. It's did you win or did you lose? If those guys can help us win, they got to play."
(on if he's selfish with his defensive players) "I used to coach special teams, so no I'm not selfish."
(on how OLB Jadeveon Clowney earned freedom while playing) "He's always had that. He's always reacted. If a blocker oversets on him, he's quick enough that he can go inside and get into the pocket or pursue the ball down the line. He had that in college. He's still using that at this point. So far, it hasn't hurt us. If it hurts us, then we have to get him back to his technique, so that we don't get hurt with it. But that's part of the discipline of playing the position."
(on if having too many players with too much freedom can lead to big holes) "Sure."
(on what teams are doing to try and slow down DE J.J. Watt) "Last week we had a lot of seven man protection. When you have seven man protection, if you're rushing four, they've got you outnumbered. If you're rushing five, they've still got you outnumbered. If you're rushing six, they still have you outnumbered. What we have to be able to do is if they're going to do that, we have to have add-on guys. The guy who has the tight end in coverage, if the tight end is blocking, has to be able to add to the blitz to get pressure on the quarterback. When dealing with that, guys have to understand that they may get double or triple teamed sometimes and the direction they push the coverage protection and most of the time, they're going to push it to J.J. and he's not crazy about it, but he understands. The thing that we have to get done is somebody away from him has to win."
(on what he likes about LB Benardrick McKinney) "I like his potential. He's got size. He's got length. He can run a little bit. He's got a good football mentality. I think he has some leadership qualities, too. I think he's a good pickup for us and he'll be a good player as we go down the road."
(on how LB Benardrick McKinney played Sunday) "He did okay. For his first start, he did okay. I can tell you, rookies are going to make some mistakes. But overall, I thought he put a good performance out there."
WR DeAndre Hopkins
(on Falcons WR Julio Jones) "I admire his game. He's one of the best at my position and one of the best in the NFL. Every time the Falcons are playing, he gets a lot of attention."
(on what he likes about Falcons WR Julio Jones) "Everything, there's really nothing not to like about him. He's been a pro's pro ever since he's been in the league. I like everything about him."
(on what he thinks separates him and Falcons WR Julio Jones) "There are a bunch of good receivers in the league. You've got to give credit to the people calling the plays, the quarterback who's trying to get us the ball, I guess that's what separates us."
(on if he's ever met or had contact with Falcons WR Julio Jones) "No, I've never met him before."
(on what his memories of the Georgia Dome are) "My last college game if I'm not mistaken, beat L-S-Who."
(on what he feels like he's gotten better at this year) "I've still got a lot to work on, so I'm not going to sit here and talk about myself and the things that I've done so far, because I don't feel like I've accomplished anything yet."
(on what it'll mean to the offense if RB Arian Foster can play Sunday) "Man, he's a playmaker, that would mean a lot for us to have him out there. He makes a difference for this team when he's out there."
(on if the Georgia Dome is a fast surface) "Yeah, it's turf if I'm not mistaken, so just like most turf fields you've kind of got a better feel and a better tracking, so of course it's a fast track."
(on what stands out about the Falcons secondary) "They're young, they're talented, and they play hard. Those guys swarm around the ball. There's not too many plays where you don't see at least eight helmets around the ball. We've just got to come out and play our game and be ready."
(on if he ever watches Falcons WR Julio Jones to see what he does) "Oh yeah, of course. It's not too many receivers that I watch in this league, but he's definitely one of them. I'm going to try to stay off the sideline from watching him and sit down, can't be too much of a fan."
(on how the offense changes when they can be up-tempo) "It's an offense that's been proven to work over the years, so we're just going out and trying to execute it the best we can."
(on how much more comfortable he's feeling with QB Ryan Mallett) "I mean, I've been working with him since last year, so we've got chemistry and I would say same with (Brian) Hoyer coming out here in the off-season. We did extra work to build that chemistry. But Mallett is a guy who's going to get out there and work with you if he sees something wrong or something that he needs to work on, so not just me, he's building chemistry with all the receivers, especially the new guys."
(on if QB Ryan Mallett's throws are still coming in fast) "That's Mallett, that's how he throws. You've just got to be ready for it."
ILB Benardrick McKinney
(on what it meant to him last week to start) "I mean I just was trying to help the team out on special teams or on defense. It was a blessing to be able to start for the Texans. I was just trying to help the defense out and make plays for the defense."
(on if he expected that he would start) "I have a good relationship with (Linebackers) Coach (Mike) Vrabel. He's a great coach. He just told me to just study, study well, and just got out there and have fun. Talking to Cush (Brian Cushing) every day at practice, just trying to make me a better player."
(on how much having some experience starting will help him going forward) "It would help me a lot. It's the first game, like I said Cush (Brian Cushing), guys are telling me to just be calm, just play, and just have fun, but the next game I'm just going to do the same, just play hard, run to the ball, play defense."
(on if starting on defense will diminish his role on special teams) "Oh no, special teams is a big role for the team. I'm going to try to go down there and make a lot of plays on special teams and contribute on defense."
(on how much he's learned from ILB Brian Cushing) "Cush, he's a nice guy. To me, when I talk to my girlfriend, I'll be like, 'Cushing was like a bad kid, like a little kid, he's bad.' But he's a great player. I watch him, I'm like, 'He's good.' He's downhill. He's hard-headed on the field. He doesn't care if it's a brick wall, he's going to run through it."
NT Vince Wilfork
(on Falcons WR Julio Jones) "I mean, he's a beast. You've got to make sure that everything we're doing we have to do well. Facing someone like him and a quarterback like Matt Ryan, and last week they got the running game going, so this offense is starting to click for them. We understand that. We've got to be at our best this week, especially going on the road against a team that fire-hot. We know how important that is for us, so we've just got to do a real good job of executing our game plan, and hopefully that's good enough."
(on the contrast between RBs Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman) "They do a real good job. The offensive line, that scheme they run and everything, the backs find holes. For us up front defensively, we know everybody is at the point of attack, and they'll hit the ball anywhere. They do a real good job of blocking it up and the running backs finding those holes. We've got to play well in the passing game and the running game to be successful against this team."
(on what the Falcons center and guards are like) "They're good. They're a good offensive line, they play well together. That's one thing, when you look at them, when they're doing what they're supposed to be doing, which they have been, and like I said, last week they got the running game going and they stuck with it, and it showed. It paid off for them. They play well together, and they're very disciplined, and they are very well-coached. You can just tell the way they play football. They're very well coached. It's going to take our best to go up there and try to get a W, but that's what football is all about, going on the road in an environment like that that's tough to play against a red-hot football team. It's going to show where we're at."
(on what's fun about going on the road) "I just think the whole thing, when you come in on Saturday and you're on the plane ride and you kind of have some down time where the team can actually get it together and have some conversations, talk about football, talk about life in general. It brings you together as a unit, as a team. I think a lot of us, we really enjoy that. Especially with a younger team, you kind of get a chance, the young guys get a chance to talk to some of the veterans and just talk about anything. A lot of times the conversations are way in left field, but that's what teammates are all about. That's what's fun about having teammates. We have to be able to go on the road and win ball games. That's anywhere, especially in football, you have to be able to go on the road and win games. That's what we're trying to do this week."
(on Defensive Coordinator Romeo Crennel saying other players need to win their matchups when DE J.J. Watt is being double teamed) "I feel the same way. Trust me, just like they got Julio (Jones), we have J.J. A lot of teams are going to account for him, two, three, four, chip, slide, every which way they're going to try and block him. That leaves everybody else in a good matchup. We've got to be able to win that. We understand that too. We have to do a better job as a defense understanding that. If teams are going to try and take him out of the ballgame, everybody else has to step up. We know when we call certain plays who should be able to make plays, who should be able to be blocked one-on-one, and who should be able to get a little pressure, and who should make tackles. We understand that. As long as we understand that, that's the first step. Next time is making the plays, but it's coming together for us. Like I said, last week was a step in the right direction. Each week we are trying to get better. We have gotten better, but it's going to take one game at a time for us. That's the way we have to attack it. Each week is a different week, but at the same time, we want to win. I like what we're doing so far. So far, so good. We've got to just keep pounding it."
(on if winning in Atlanta would be a big step forward) "Every week is a big week. I don't care if a team is 0-3 or 3-0. Each week is a big week, so we treat every week different. We treat each week big. Name a game, let's win it. That's the key. We're going to do everything in our will power to try and walk away with a W. That's our goal. We're very confident. I'm pretty sure they're very confident. They're playing good football. The things we're doing around here have gotten better. We're happy with the way they're getting better. We just have to be able to build from that moving forward. We can't take a step back. I'm looking forward to it. I think this team is looking forward to it, going on the road against a good football team and see what we can do."
(on if anything is different going into this game) "No, we're just starting to gel together. I think that's one of the things that as a team, once you get guys to start gelling together and stuff starts to come together, I think right now, that's where we're at. Things are starting to come together. We're starting to do the little things a little different. Guys are starting to understand their role. Once we get to that point, you can really dial up what you want to dial up. It's the fourth game and that's where we're at right now. We're excited about it. Like I said, there's no other place I'd rather be with this team and where we're headed because I see nothing but good things if we just continue to get better and execute our game plan. We'll be pretty good."