<span style=""> <span style="">Q: Is Heath Evans undergoing any surgery?</span>
A: He's having the surgery today, (Dr. James) Andrews in Florida is doing the surgery. It's an ACL tear. It (the surgery) may be over (by the time we are meeting). I know the procedure was going to be done today around noon and it was going to be done by James Andrews in Florida.
Q: Do you have any additional information on Ellis' injury?
A: It's a sprained knee. The swelling's down. It's better, yet we wouldn't know anything more until later in the week, so I'm somewhat guarded in regards to the progress he's making. (Scott) Fujita's making a lot of progress. I'm optimistic. Those are really the only two.
Q: What kind of effect could Evans' injury have on the running game?
A: He's to date really played well for us both in the running game and the passing game. You never like to lose a starter. It will be up to the rest of these guys at the tight end position, the fullback position, potentially one of our halfbacks to take over that role, but it does change what you've been accustomed to with the starter that's out.
Q: What is the plan at the position?
A: One of those three. We've got flexibility in that we've got tight ends, the ability to work Kyle (Eckel), who had a good day of practice today who we just signed and potentially one of our halfbacks into that role. We'll look into one of those options.
Q: Could Lynell Hamilton see some work at fullback?
A: Potentially. He's taking some work there. We have some flexibility there. We just have to hone in on how we choose to use those guys.
Q: Will you miss him from a leadership standpoint as well?
A: One thing we talked about is after the surgery and he comes back for rehab, then you see Jammal Brown around a lot and Heath has provided a great deal of leadership for that room and the team. We'll make sure he's in the mix and involved in everything we're doing as he rehabs. Again, you're losing a starter, someone that has really played well these first six games.
Q: Can you talk about how Evans has been a help at the point of attack?
A: The thing we felt like we needed with his signing was his ability to really help us in the run game. He's someone that locates his marks very well. He's got pretty good footwork and athleticism to fit on the linebackers or whatever we're asking him to block and he's very intelligent. The number one thing we were able to benefit from in this early part of the season was his value as a blocker and his athleticism as a receiver, even in the play he was injured in the other night. It was a pretty important down. Those are things we're going to miss and we're going to have to fill in with these other guys.
Q: Are you confident Ellis will be back this season?
A: Yes. The question is how soon.
Q: Are some of these injuries a coach's nightmare?
A: No, I think that when you go through he 16 week season, the depth on your team and the ability to fill in. Last week we had to fill in with Scott (Fujita) being out and have had to fill in with Jammal Brown, a Pro Bowl left tackle being out. That's the reality of an NFL season. You just hope there's less than more. We'll get those other guys coached up and ready to go. That's what we have to do.
Q: How big do you think a loss of Ellis would potentially be against such a strong team running the ball like Atlanta?
A: Hypothetically you're talking about a starter, a guy who has been playing well. When you lose a starter, the key is guys that fill in and replace them need to do it and we need to function and you hope that there's little drop-off. That's the importance of the bottom half of the roster, the importance of the depth of the roster and understanding that you're going to have to step in. Their roles can change. You see inactive players, Remi Ayodele/Jo-Lonn Dunbar.aspx">Jo-Lonn Dunbar for a few weeks playing on base defense and special teams and that's how our league is.
Q: Isn't defensive tackle a tougher position to replace?
A: They're all valuable positions. They're all positions that are important to what we do, whether it's the defensive tackle, the fullback or the linebacker. They're important. Guys stepping in are going to have to do well.
Q: What has made Matt Ryan so good so quickly?
A: Number one, he's accurate and he's smart. I know he's got very, very good feet. He certainly has real good arm strength. His ball location, footwork. He's one of those guys that grasp what they're doing pretty quickly. To their credit, they've done a good job with balance there, just like you've been able to see week to week, he's very good with his play faking. He locates the ball well and he's an excellent quarterback. He doesn't look like a second year player. He didn't look like a first year player last year?
Q: Is he susceptible to pressure and takeaways?
A: He's done a great job. When you look at their front, their offensive line in a year and a half has improved greatly. They don't take a lot of sacks. They were a little bit like us last week in going into that game they had only given up two sacks. We took a big portion o sacks in Miami and they took a few in Dallas, but he gets rid of the ball and they do a good job up front protecting for him. He throws with rhythm and timing well.
Q: Can you talk about Tony Gonzalez?
A: He's a good target with experience. He's got great ability to get open. He gives you yards after the catch. You're talking about one of the best tight ends that have ever played. It's a huge addition to what they do offensively.
Q: Have the Falcons become more consistent in the past two years?
A: I think since Mike's (Smith) gotten there, the program took a complete change for the better and you can draw some similarities to the '06 start for us. They acquired the right player at quarterback. They've done a great job with their evaluation of talent. They've drafted well and signed in free agency very well, their running back (Michael) Turner and going on with the decisions they've made. In the last year and a half, they're a much different organization and much improved organization. They're a real good football team.
Q: Has the media made too much out of the Falcons having signed Aaron Stecker given how much offenses change year to year?
A: Probably so. I think the signing of Aaron was the need for a running back. I don't think it was to spend a week on the whole playbook. Aaron's very intelligent. I'm sure he has a certain insight. To answer your question, yes.
Q: What concerns you about the Falcons defensively?
A: They rush the passer well. John Abraham's one of the guys who is one of the elite pass rushers in the league. I think the linebackers are playing very good football. They acquired (Mike) Peterson from Jacksonville. (Curtis) Lofton's in his second year playing outstanding. It's a group that's got great team speed on defense. It's s different front that we're seeing from a week ago, when we saw a 3-4 defense, much like they did a week ago at Dallas. Both teams are coming back and playing more of a 4-3 defense now. This was a team that won a lot of games a year ago and is 4-2 right now and I think playing very well.
Q: Can you discussing the comments Reggie Bush made to the Sporting News Radio?
A: I think if you really pay attention to the interview…Sometimes we fail to do that…If we pay attention to the interview, the comments in the context they were taken don't bother me. But that's the nature of how news is made. Honestly, if you listen to any of our players, Reggie included, myself included, each week we have to focus on the next opponent. We're two weeks away from even being at the halfway point..
Q: Is there possibly a confidence behind Reggie's comment?
A: Yes, again, I don't know how many of you listened to the whole interview in its entirety. When you do, you realize how this business works sometimes. I kind of take it for what it's worth.
Q: Doesn't it seem like he's offering an honest answer?
A: I know. After about 15 minutes of answering questions, when it's reported how it works. He and I talked about it. There are a lot of games left. We have a lot of football left with good teams, starting with this week's team. We know Atlanta's a very good team, 4-2 right now. We have to get ready for this week and get our schedules adjusted. To answer your question, he and I talked about it.