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Falcons' Mike Smith and Asante Samuel Previews Thursday's Game

Posted Nov 27, 2012

Saints and Falcons square off on Thursday night

Atlanta Falcons Head Coach Mike Smith
Conference Call With New Orleans Media
Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Listen to Smith's Call

It’s a question posed to players and coaches here, but is it at least slightly easier for this game on a Thursday considering the familiarity of the opponent?
“It’s a lot easier than playing a non-division opponent. Ideally you would want to be playing a division opponent simply because of the preparations and being that we played them a couple weeks ago. It makes it easier for everyone involved. You certainly don’t want to be playing on a short week against a team you only see once every four years.”

Has much changed between November 11 and this week?
“We’re a different team. They’re a different team. At this time of the year you’re going to have different guys coming in and out of the lineup because of attrition through injuries. I know our 46-man roster is not going to be exactly the same one we had three weeks ago nor will theirs. In that sense it’s changed. Both sides will look at what they did well and what they did not do as well as they would have liked and tweak it a little bit. But it ought to be a heck of a ballgame on Thursday night. It should be a lot of fun for everybody.”

What is Asante Samuel’s status?
“Asante did not participate in practice yesterday. We’ll get him out there today, do a little bit more than yesterday, that’s for sure. We’re going to have to go up to gametime to see where he’s at in making a decision on whether he’s going to be able to play or not.”

Has the run game changed with Jacquizz Rodgers’ emergence?
“We were very transparent back in March when we started our offseason program and said our offense was going to be very different than what it was in the first four years. The makeup has changed in terms of the players that we had. We said we would not look up and see one player have 300 carries like have had in the previous four years. We feel like Jacquizz is a very viable option to carry the football and has done a nice job for us. It has become more of the vogue thing to do, to have a running back by committee. I think your running game down there speaks volumes in terms of what you have been doing with your run game. There’s not a feature back. I hear about coach Vitt talking about giving everybody their touches and then going with the hot hand.”

How do you sift the back and forth between players when the Saints play the Falcons as a coach?
“I’m not meaning it to be taken the wrong way, but there’s noise before every game. It starts on the Tuesday if the game’s on Sunday and there’s noise that goes on outside of the building. It’s part of the process leading up to the football game. Our focus just like the focus of the guys down there is on what do we have to do to play our best ballgame on Thursday night. We don’t listen to it. We don’t concern ourselves with it.”

Do you have to tell your players to pull back a little bit of what they say on social media?
“I think we do a very good job here of in terms of what the beginning of the year, talking about social media in terms of what’s appropriate and what’s not appropriate. For the most part I think the guys have done an outstanding job with their social media. It’s such a popular way to communicate now. It’s becoming the norm. We’re learning as an organization. I think our players are learning as well that there are certain things that are okay to talk about, other things that are not.”

The Saints defensively have improved, especially when they started winning games. What have you seen from them in the change?
“I think coach (Steve) Spagnuolo has done a very good job with the defense. There’s a learning curve anytime you have a change at the coordinator position. Steve is an excellent defensive coordinator and I think he’s done an outstanding job. You can see they’re playing with a lot more confidence defensively over the last six or seven weeks. It’s a defense that can create issues for offenses. I think they do a very good job gameplanning and disguising. It puts a lot of pressure not only on the quarterback, but on the offensive line as well.”

Atlanta Falcons DB Asante Samuel
Conference Call with New Orleans Media
Wednesday, November 27, 2012

Listen to Samuel's call

How is your shoulder?
“Everything is good and (I’m) just taking it day by day.”

Scott Shanle made reference to the Falcons as the Saints “little brother” after the last game. What was your reaction to that?
“Of course we don’t feel that way but we are just going to go out there Thursday night and let our play do all our talking. We are just going to go out there and play hard.”

The Saints have won 11 of the last 13 games against the Falcons. What has made the matchup so difficult?
“They are a really good team. They are better than what their record shows. They have a very explosive offense and a lot of playmakers on defense. It’s a rivalry game. It’s a conference game. It’s a division game and you know how those go. It’s always a tough battle. You just have to go out there and fight.”

Does it make it slightly easier for you guys to prepare for them on a short week since you just faced them three weeks ago?
“It doesn’t make it easier because we have less time and have to cram everything in. But you compare apples to apples. They get to prepare for us the same way we prepare for them. It’s an even matchup. We know each other. There are no secrets. Everybody knows everybody. They know what we do. We know what they do. We just have to go out there and win.”

I know there is a lot of banter between you and Saints fans on Twitter. Do you enjoy that or does it get old after a while?
“It’s kind of fun. Nothing is personal for me. Anything I say or do, I just approach it as fun. I like to talk a little smack here and there. That’s what I do. That keeps me going. It keeps me energetic. It keeps me loving the game of football. It keeps me competitive.”  

Do Saints fans tweet you more than other team fan bases?
“I am getting a lot of Saints fans. Coming from the Eagles, they still tweak me. I think the Who Dat Nation more than anybody tweets me. It’s talking trash and having a little fun.”

What do you guys need to improve on after the last Saints game?
“We have to minimize explosive plays. We have to play a little more physical and stop the run and pass better. We have to go out, put our best food forward and bring our ‘A’ game.”

What’s the talk in your locker room about making sure the Saints don’t take a photo on your logo after the game this time out?
“We really aren’t thinking about that. We are just thinking about how we are going to go out there and attack them. We will play hard and try to hit them in the mouth as much as we can.”

Can you guys learn from what the 49ers defense did against the Saints last week or do you stay more with you guys do?
“Of course it’s more of what we do but we look at what they did and the success they had. They kind of just went out there and were the more physical team. They created more turnovers and got the win.”

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