Q. How about the weapons that the Falcons have on offense, especially Roddy White and his big play ability?
A. Yeah, he is as good as any receiver we have played against this year so far. The other thing is that they do a great job of running the ball. That probably sounds pretty routine for everybody you play, but this is really an exceptional rushing offense. I think they put a lot of time and thought into their running game each week. You see little different kinds of schemes and formations that they use and that is a challenge in itself. Plus they have a quality running back, and I know he sprained his ankle but we expect him to play. He is a big, thick, quick kid who is a load just to get down on the ground. White is an excellent receiver and he is as explosive as anybody we have played so far.
Q. The challenge of playing against Tony Gonzalez?
A. Yes, he is a tough matchup. He is a big third down guy for them. He is used to being covered by safeties, so that is not going to be anything different for him, and he is used to being double-covered a lot on third down. You see almost everybody they play against forms some kind of a double bracket on him on third down. None of that stuff is foreign to him and he still does a good job of shaking people off and getting to the first down marker and catching the ball. He is a tough matchup.
Q. How do you think the changes at safety worked out in the last game?
A. I think it worked out well. I think it worked out well the way we did it. C.C (Brown) is still in the fold and he is ready to go and he still gets practice reps and he is still ready to play. I think Aaron (Rouse) and Michael (Johnson) did a solid job.
Q. Aaron Ross is coming back. Will he play safety or corner or a little of both?
A. He will be ready to play either or. He is a corner for us. He has been away from it for so long this is really his first week of practicing everyday and ready to go and taking the regular practice reps. We are hoping he is going to be in a position to contribute on Sunday. He could play both, but he is a corner for us.
Q. How is his mood? How is he psychologically doing?
A. He is great. He has been away from it for so long it is just refreshing for him to be out there and be able to run around and take the reps. He is very enthused.
Q. Just to clarify, you are saying that Ross could play safety, but in the long term plans he is still a corner?
A. He is a corner for us. Like all the players, we try to have backups ready at all the different positions because you are probably only going to dress maybe seven DBs for the game. When you get into the sub-personnel grouping you’ve got five or six guys out there and you’ve only got seven guys dressed. So everybody is ready to back up a bunch of different positions. But, in our mind, he is a corner for us.
Q. Why is a hamstring injury so difficult for someone at his position to recover from?
A. I don’t know. I don’t know the medical magical answer for that, but it did seem to take a long time. I know if they are torn it just takes time to heal up, it’s a muscle tear. It just takes weeks and weeks to heal up obviously.
Q. Was his a tear?
A. I don’t know exactly the specifics of that. Ronnie Barnes would be handling those types of questions, I am hoping.
Q. In the self-scout, did you pick up tendencies that maybe you will change up over the course of the second half of the season?
A. Yeah. We try to do that every week but when you can take a nine-game look at yourself it is a bigger picture. You get a feel for what you are actually doing on certain downs and distances and in certain personnel groups. But we try to do a real conscious job of that every week for like the last four or five games. It is interesting to see how you look after a nine-game self-scout. You get a few ideas of maybe you are doing too much of something or not enough in certain situations from a pressure standpoint.
Q. What is the most important thing when you are facing a zone blocking running game?
A. We are a gap control team, so whether we are playing a seven-man front or an eight-man front we have guys that are maintaining their gap leverage on different blocks they are engaged in. That is probably the biggest thing. If you get two guys in the same gap or you have an undefended gap, that is inevitably where the ball finds itself and that is where they rip through your front seven. The main thing is maintaining gap integrity.
Q. When was the last time you guys faced a zone blocking team or someone who does as much zone blocking as Atlanta?
A. Everybody does a certain amount of it; that is their bread and butter. That is their rushing offense. They have a lot of window dressing of moving guys around, but they are a zone blocking team. They run some off-tackle power play, too, with the gap scheme, but everybody does a bit of it. For them, it is their bread and butter and they are really good at it.
Q. How does it feel to have everybody?
A. It’s great, it’s great. I know the players are fired up, too, especially the guys coming back. It’s good, feels like you have your regular team.
Q. Expectations for Aaron Ross?
A. I am hoping he is in a position to contribute. This is the first week that he has actually taken a week’s worth of reps. He seems to be fine physically. I know we are hoping he is in a position to contribute. He isn’t going to go in there and play sixty snaps. But, he looks good out there and he is ready to go and feels good. Hoping he is in a position to contribute.
Q. You could see him getting 10-15 plays?
A. Oh gosh, yeah. I see him getting into the game but like I said he is not just going to walk out and play the next 60 snaps. But, yeah, I anticipate him being ready to go.
Q. His experience, athleticism, those are things that you haven’t had back there from that spot?
A. At least he has those and it is an addition and it will help us for sure.
Q. You interested in seeing how Michael Boley’s emotional state is?
A. Yeah. It is interesting, I was talking to him the other day, just asking him about some insight into their personnel. Him having been around those guys for a couple years and he had some interesting things. He still stays in touch with those guys. You know, players talk. But, I am sure that he will be very fired up.
Q. You think you are going to have to calm him down?
A. No, no. He is kind of an even keel guy. But I am sure he will be wired up and ready to go. Especially because of the circumstance of playing against his old team.
Q. What about having Clint (Sintim) and Danny (Clark) rotate?
A. We will do that. We started doing that a little bit last week and plan on doing the same because we want Clint to be in position to contribute.
Q. How do you weigh that as being the positive and possibly breaking up the flow as the negative?
A. That is a good question. Really both of those guys for us are more first and second down guys, you know. Clint is going to be a sub-pass rusher down the road. But right now, they are playing on first and second down. It is a fair question. I know for a guy like Danny, who is used to being a starter and playing all the first and second down snaps, it probably breaks him up a little bit. But he has a great attitude towards it and he is actually trying to mentor Clint and bring him along. They are in and out of the game anyway. It is not like they are playing every snap. They are rotating on some series. We might say ‘Clint, you are going to go this next series.’ It probably shouldn’t be too much of an issue, and I don’t think it has been.