"Kenny Stills was a full go today. Kenyon Coleman was back off the flu; he practiced. Roman Harper practiced but he was limited. Jarred Fayson was out of practice. I think we'll have him back tomorrow. Marques Colston, Patrick Robinson and Victor Butler did not practice."
You'll have the pads on tomorrow. What can we expect to see?
"The first thing is when you have the pads we're able to get a little one-on-one offensive line, defensive line and pass protection drills, which is something you can't do without the pads. So that would be something that we haven't seen at all during the spring or up until now. I think the nine-on-seven run drill becomes a little bit different. It becomes a little bit more physical. Some of the other drills probably won't be noticeably as different but those will be two drills you'll notice the change in the tempo and one drill we can't do without the pads."
Coach when do you start game-planning for the Falcons?
"That's a ways away. I tell our guys there's no light at the end of the tunnel right now for training camp. That's down the road quite a while."
Is too much being made with the transition of guys like Will Smith and Junior Galette from defensive end to linebacker?
"I think those are good questions because when you change the style of defense there's a certain bit of evaluation we're doing with personnel. Do we have guys in positions they're comfortable with? So I don't think too much is being made of it. I think those are good questions. (Not) Until we get into pads and the preseason we'll be able to answer those. When guys are having to change from being down in in stance to being up, there's a transition."
Will Smith looks a little more svelte like yourself. He said that was your direction.
"To his credit he worked hard. Some players you're asking to put on weight, some you're asking to reduce weight. In his case we asked him to reduce weight. He's in good shape; It's good to see. Just by the nature of the job description of what he has to do, number one (is) rush the passer, so that doesn't change but also to do some things that he's not as familiar with. Even when it comes to rushing the passer, the weight he's at is good."
His pass coverage will mostly be running backs out of the backfield?
A lot of times it will be dropping into a zone or potentially (covering) a running back. More times than not it will be a flat, dropping into a zone."
People talk about this being a business but you and the club have shown a lot of loyalty to Will and he's shown a lot of loyalty to the club. Can you talk about that relationship?
"He's been a very consistent performer and he's been here the longest. The players understand that each year we're asking ourselves who can do it from the young players. We've got to see these young players and how they respond. And we've also got to see from the veteran players that they can still do it. That doesn't apply to just Will, that applies to a lot of guys that have been here. So there's always a lot of competition. People say that it's a young man's game but if a guy can still do the assignment and be productive (it works out), and in Will's case he's taken care of himself. He understands how challenging it is to play year in and year out, especially the position he's playing."
Coach, did Saalim Hakim walk off gingerly at the end?
"He was just getting tight. He didn't pull anything; he just was cramping and stopped wisely. He's fine."
What difference have you seen in Jimmy Graham?
"I think it's just the details and the specifics of the framework of what he's doing on each play. He's in good shape and running well. It's just details in his assignments (such as) securing the ball. We had a few more drops than we were use to a year ago, guys turning and leaving. Their heads were turning just a count before the ball actually touched their hands. It happened to him on one play out here today. He needs to secure the ball the right way."
Is it easy for him to put some pressure on himself being in the contract year?
"I don't think so. I think for him it's just playing like he's used to playing. He's had a lot more pressure in his life than a contract year. He'll get in a routine. He's in one now. We expect him to be extremely productive. It's just detailing the little things and the other things will get worked out. "
He said he never considered holding out. He wanted to be a part of you coming back and does that go back to the character background?
"I think all that stuff will get taken care of itself. A lot has been written because he's coming into this season (with his contract up after 2013), but we'll handle that."
In Mark Ingram's case, how big is year number three in this system? Do you feel that players usually grow in that third year in this system?
"I think that year three is important. I think that to his specific case he's healthier than he's been and his weight is down. We expect him to play well and have a good season. It varies. For Robert Meachem year three was a big turnaround year. Some guys it happens right away. The challenge at running back here is sometimes those snaps are being split and it's a little different from another position."
It seemed like Kenny Stills was involved in a lot of plays today. Was it the luck of the draw or is he starting to get more comfortable with the system?
"He made the play on the post route earlier in practice. I think he's really intelligent; he's smooth in his route running. I think the most important thing for younger players is to know what to do and he's picked things up well."
I think it was you that said that Mark Ingram is more versatile than he gets credit for, could you expand on that?
"I think he catches the ball well out of the backfield. I think he's someone that does a lot of things well. We're not just limited to a certain type of offense when he's in the game. Pierre brings a lot of that versatility to the game in a different way. (He has the) marks (of) someone who has some of that versatility in regards to not only being a runner but a receiver and most importantly a guy that can protect. We ask those guys to do a lot in protection."