Atlanta coach Mike Smith, 11.18.09

Q. Give you us an update on Michael Turner and his status for this game and where his injury situation is?

A. I can tell you this. On our injury report today, Michael will not participate in practice, and he is really going to be day-to-day to see where he goes. He is working extremely hard. He did injure his ankle in the ball game last week and wasn’t able to finish it. But he is working extremely hard to get back as quick as possible.

Q. Regardless of his status, do you expect Jerious Norwood is going to be healthy enough to contribute?

A. Jerious continues to get better. He was able to do a little bit more last week and we are anxious to see him practice today.

Q. If you have to make any adjustments without Turner, do you think you change dramatically what you do? Or is your team still built to emphasize the run game regardless of who is back there?

A. Of course Michael has been an outstanding runner for us since we got here. But we do feel comfortable with the running backs that we have. Jerious has a little different dynamic than Michael and as far as skill set. But we like what he has done. We also are very comfortable with Jason Snelling. Jason has been a guy who has been able to play both fullback and halfback for us. We are going to put our game plan together to try and emphasize the strengths of all of our players.

Q. You are a defensive guy. When you look at the numbers that have been put up against your run defense, what do you see as the issue there?

A. We have not played defense like we would have liked to, of course. Our number one goal year in and year out is to keep people out of the end zone. We are in the middle of the pack in terms of scoring defense. We have given up way too many explosive plays. To me that is the biggest thing that has been the difference is that we have given up the 20-yard plus plays both in the pass game and in the run game. We knew that we were going younger and more urgent on defense. We made that commitment last year in terms of retooling our roster and we have gone through some growing pains. But these guys have shown a very good attitude and have been very resilient and have played extremely hard for us this year.

Q. It looked like on two of those long runs against the Panthers last week, one looked like guys on the second level got blocked and on another they got caught up. Has that been an issue?

A. When you give up explosive plays, guys, there is usually one of four things that happens. Really three of the four are about you. Either a missed tackle, a missed assignment, or poor leverage. And then there are times when it is just a great play by the offense. But the majority of the time, we believe that when you give up an explosive play it is usually one of the three things that are about you. That’s poor tackling, missed assignment or poor leverage. Obviously you guys were very observant on that play and saw what occurred.

Q. Michael Boley has had a couple injuries since his arrival in New York, but when healthy, he has played really well. He looks like he has the ability, so it makes people wonder why you guys decided to let him go or even last year put him on the bench?

A. Michael Boley, I thought, played very well for us last year. When you are building a roster, decisions have to be made and they are made from both sides. He was a free agent and he chose to test the market. Michael, I think, is a very athletic linebacker that has been very productive in his time here in Atlanta. I don’t see any reason why he won’t be productive there in New York. When he has had an opportunity, when I have seen him on film, he looks like the athletic Michael Boley that we had here.

Q. You mentioned it right there, the guy clearly has the athleticism, so it makes you wonder why a team would think that athleticism isn’t that valuable. Why would you look at him and say maybe he isn’t the right fit for us anymore?

A. Guys, like I said, Michael had an opportunity to test free agency and he tested free agency. That’s the way the system is set here in the NFL.

Q. Did you guys make an effort to keep him?

A. Guys, I am not going to get into that, in terms of negotiations and on a specific player.

Q. When you look at the Giants defense what do you see from the other linebackers and the defensive pass rush?

A. I think up front they are very strong. I am familiar with Danny Clark, I had Danny Clark back when he was with the Jacksonville Jaguars. He is a very, you know, strong, tough linebacker. Antonio Pierce, his resume speaks for itself. Really the guys up front are the guys you have to be concerned about. Osi Umenyiora at one defensive end, Justin Tuck at the other and then Mathias Kiwanuka, those guys can rush the passer and their statistics basically say that you have to be aware of where they are. They have a good rotation inside with Fred Robbins, (Barry) Cofield and when Chris Canty is healthy and playing, he is a big force, as well. This defense is the number one defense in the NFL as far as giving up yards per game. It is going to be a big challenge for our offense to compete against these guys because they are very good.

Q. At least numbers-wise, it looks like Matt Ryan has taken a step back this year. Is that the case or are you asking him to do a whole lot more as a sophomore than as a rookie?

A. I think his numbers are comparable when you start talking about completion percentage and touchdowns to where they were at this time last year. Of course, Matt had an outstanding rookie season and playing quarterback in the NFL, to me, is one of the most difficult positions there is. We know that Matt has got to play better. He knows that he has got to play better. But there is a learning curve and it is not something that happens in a very short time. It is something that you have to experience and Matt is going through those experiences right now.

Q. How much has it helped to have Tony Gonzalez, not only on the field but in the locker room?

A. Tony Gonzalez, his numbers speak for themselves in terms of what he’s been able to do throughout his entire career. The thing that Tony brings to us is professionalism. I don’t think there is a guy who works harder than Tony. He is a great influence for everybody in our locker room, not just the offensive players. Here is a guy who is arguably going to the Hall of Fame and he is out working on his blocking, catching passes early, catching passes when the defense is working and the offense is not, in terms of our scripting. He is a great influence for everybody on our team, for all of our young players.

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