FLOWERY BRANCH – Falcons head coach Mike Smith addressed the media after practice on Thursday.
The big news was that defensive end Ray Edwards doesn’t have his own play count for the Pittsburgh game. He’ll go as long as the rest of the starters, but will be monitored closely.
Edwards, who is set to make his debut with the Falcons, has recovered from a mysterious offseason knee surgery. (His second boxing match was canceled and we don’t know if he did it preparing before the second fight or if he did it working out or if he did it standing in line in Cincinnati waiting for some Skyline Chili or if he did it square
dancing. We just know he had a “minor procedure.” We’ll get Woodward and Bernstein on it.)
The team is set to leave for Pittsburgh Friday afternoon.
Also, it was duly noted by the esteemed members of the Professional Football Writers of America, that Coach Smith gave the media a full injury report, even though he doesn’t have to until week one.
Here are the highlights from Thursday’s media briefing:
ON THE PRACTICE: We finished up our preparation. This is more for the logistics of putting our guys through the paces and the game planning. We’ve done some game-planning this week, but not nearly as much as if we were preparing for the regular season. I thought that the guys handled the week very well. Now, we just have to finish it off and go on the road. Which I think will be back-to-back road weeks for us. Early in the season, we have three or our first four on the road, so it will be something that we can learn from and set a routine.
ON MAKING THE CUTS: It is [a difficult time of the year.] This year with the 90-man roster. We’ve made a couple of moves prior to having to get down [to 80.] It’s always difficult because everybody that has been on our team right now has worked extremely hard. There are some tough decisions that we have to make. We’ve got to [cut] this roster down to 80 and then down to 53. There are going to be some tough decisions. This is an important game for a lot of guys. They may not get as many snaps as they’ve gotten in the previous preseason games simply because in the third preseason game we usually play our first-team a little bit longer.
INJURY REPORT: Corey Peters and Lawrence Sidbury will definitely be about. We are going to have some game-time decisions in terms of getting Akeem Dent, who’s been able to practice the last couple of days. We need to see if he’s going to be
available. Christopher Owens will be a game-time decision as well. Dunta Robinson will definitely not play. Robert James will play. He’s been cleared to go. We’re going to have some guys that have some bumps and bruises, but at this time of the year, everybody does. Our main goal is to see some better play from all three units.
ANY BACKGROUND INTEL ON DARRIN WALLS, WHY HE DIDN’T GET DRAFTED?: I don’t know the answer to that. We were very fortunate when the draft was concluded that Sunday that he was still out there. . . This year’s free agent class was different since we weren’t able to target guys and sign them the day after the draft. We were able to continue the process after the draft. I thought Thomas and his staff did a great job of putting the board together under the calm of a couple of weeks [of peace] instead of having to do that when you’ve just gone through a draft and you’re basically in a free
for all for the college free agents. He’s been very impressive. On special teams, that’s where he first showed up. He’s going to get an opportunity to play some defensive snaps this week.
ON DE RAY EDWARDS: The situation with Ray is that Ray is going to get some plays. We have to make sure that we are smart in what we are doing. This will be his first exposures and if it’s going well, we’ll make a decision during the ball game. . . We’ve got an idea of how long we want to go, but that could change based on what happens in the early part of the ball game.
ON EDWARDS PLAY COUNT?: He has no different play count than anyone else.
ANXIOUS TO SEE EDWARDS? (We sure are!): I’m anxious to see all of the guys. As you get closer, we are now getting within 15 days of the season-opener. Everybody has a heighten excitement about going out and performing. This is going to be a big challenge and a good challenge for us. This is the team that represented the AFC in the Super Bowl last year. Year-in and year-out, this is a team that has sustainability. That’s what we’ve been talking about since we’ve gotten here, being able to sustain [winning] from year to year.
–D. Orlando Ledbetter, The Atlanta Falcons beat blog