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Falcons Open Locker Room 11/5/14

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Players shared their thoughts on Sunday's game, the rest of the season and more in Wednesday's open locker room.

Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

The offensive line faces a tough task Sunday, and James Stone, Jonathan Asamoah and Ryan Schraeder talked to the media about transitions on the line, preparing for Gerald McCoy, and more.

James Stone, on heading into his second start:

I feel more comfortable because I’m just getting more communication with Matt. We each to have our meetings and things of that nature, and we’re on the same page. So I know the offensive line is working with him and we’re all on the same page in different—various plays.

Ryan Schraeder on communication and James Stone stepping up:

[Communication] helps a lot. I mean, any offensive line in the league will tell you that. But as far as Stone stepping up, he knows his stuff. He’s stepped up as a leader and we’re all confident in him. He’s already making all the calls he needs to make, so we’re just ready to play.

James Stone on the importance of communication for the offensive line:

I feel like it helps us be consistent, because I’m trying to do—say the same things that the other guys are saying so that everybody – it’ll be consistent and people will be on the same page. So we just like to keep it quick and concise with our communication and make sure everybody’s on the same page.

Jonathan Asamoah on preparing for Gerald McCoy:

Yeah, it’s a huge factor. He’s one of the major focuses of the game. So it’s going to be on us up front to minimize that effect he can have. ..he's just a special guy. He makes plays, run and pass, and can be completely disruptive.

James Stone on preparing for Gerald McCoy:

You have to be sound in your technique with somebody like that, who especially can rush the pass and stop the run and is an all-around player, so you just have to know where he’s at on the field at all times.

James Stone on the most challenging part of transitioning to a starting role:

Just learning how different guys play, because you always have to work together, and different guys set different ways, so just learning each guy’s set and just knowing so I’ll be able to be in the right spot at the right time.

James Stone on getting help from his injured counterparts:

I mean, if they see something in my game or they see certain looks or something that they remember, they’ll come in – they won’t hesitate to let me know or give me something to look out for and just little tidbits here and there on technique things or certain blocks—Joe Hawley and Pete [Konz], they’re always willing to help.

Kemal Ishmael shared some thoughts on preparing to face Josh McCown instead of Mike Glennon.

McCown, he can use his feet. He can run. He’s more athletic than Glennon, but both quarterbacks are good. Glennon’s more like Matt Ryan over here, one to stand in the pocket and throw the ball. McCown’s more agile. He wants to move out of the pocket, and he can make plays with his feet.

Players were asked about the constant buzz about Mike Smith and whether that's distracting for them.

Steven Jackson said he doesn't pay attention to it.

Well, I don’t read it or listen to it, so it’s not a distraction for me. Unfortunately, I’m a veteran of that situation, so I’ve just got to encourage my teammates and the coaching staff that the 53-man in this locker room, we’re going to get ourselves out of this hole, and we’ve just got to continue to focus on that.

Corey Peters said the team is sticking together.

I think that this team has done a great job of just trying to stick together. We’re all we’ve got. We’ve got each other’s back. We support Smitty 100%. So we have no control of any of that, so we try not to listen to the noise, either positive or negative.

Ryan Schraeder isn't worried.

We're good. We’re focused. Everybody got refreshed off the bye, so we’re ready to go.

it's been a while since the Falcons last won a game, and players talked about that.

Jonathan Asamoah said a win would energize the team.

Yeah, definitely thought about that on the bye week. I want to feel good about what we’re doing here and just getting win three would change that mindset and energize everyone.

Kemal Ishmael remains optimistic.

Yeah, it does seem like that, but it’s only going to make us stronger. We’ve been through tough situations. It’s a game of inches. We lost by one point, a field goal, and sometimes it comes down to the last play, last couple of plays, and those are the things we just have to work on and finish our games and stop teams from scoring, and we’ll be in good shape.

Players emphasized that they were refreshed and focused coming off the bye.

Kemal Ishmael said the bye allowed players to get their minds right.

Yeah, no doubt. Just getting our minds back to where they’re supposed to be and just taking that time off and thinking about things that we could have done better, and just re-collecting ourselves.

Corey Peters said the bye helped the team focus.

Our mantra’s always been, "Next game," so we’ve been trying to do that. But I think the week off helps with that, you know? It’s just an opportunity to refocus, reevaluate what went wrong with the first half, and try to correct those issues moving forward.

Players know Tampa Bay will look to restore their pride on Sunday.

Jonathan Asamoah said that the Bucs will give it all they've got.

It's a division opponent, we’re going to go in – we’re trying to win, they’re trying to win. They’ll give us their best shot. They’re going to come out - they’re going to remember that, the last game. They’re going to come out and try to hit us in the mouth.

Kemal Ishmael expects Tampa Bay to play with a chip on their shoulder.

No doubt. These guys are going to come in with a chip on their shoulder and give it everything they’ve got, just like how we’re going to give it everything we’ve got. And what we have to do is just go out there and play hard, show that improvement on the road, and we just pull this thing together.

Corey Peters knows the team has to bring their A-game.

They’re a good football team – a very physical football team, and we know that they don’t—they aren’t going to forget how the first game turned out, so that’s always going to be a tough matchup. We don’t – that doesn’t mean anything, so we’ve got to bring our A-game and go down there ready to play.

Corey Peters had quite a bit to say about veteran leadership in the locker room. He said that veteran players need to set a good example, first and foremost.

I think that it’s important that everybody sets a good example, not only on the field, but off the field. This is a very tough time, so it’s important to just try to keep the locker room together, keep everybody on the same page. And on the field, we’ve just got to play better, and that’s just everybody in general.

As far as reports that the locker room lacks veteran leadership, Peters didn't agree.

It's all nonsense. You never know, and if you watch TV or whatever, everything that they say is their perception, and that probably isn’t true even if it’s positive. So it is what it is. I mean – like I said, it’s some of the funniest stuff – it’s nonsense. So we just move forward, and we know who we are, we know who we’re not, so we just try to keep it in here.

Players talked about the team's current focus and how they will approach the remainder of the season.

Jonathan Asamoah said that keeping their focus in the now is important.

You live in the now. You live right now. All we’re focusing on right now is getting a win on Sunday and let everything else happen as it goes. But we have to handle our business this week.

Ryan Schraeder's perspective was short and sweet.

Win this week. Go 1-0 this week. That’s all we’re worried about is going down to Tampa Bay and getting a win.

Kroy Biermann said fan support helps.

Everybody’s entitled to their opinion. That’s what makes the United States the United States. I’m here to work and get better, and I really appreciate our supporters and our fans, and if we’re going to get through this, we’ve got to get through it together. So we would hope that our fans would continue to support us as we try to get this thing going the right way.

Steven Jackson said the team just needs to play with more consistency.

Making plays, winning games, that all becomes contagious when guys see another guy making a play, you want the next guy to step up and do the same. We’re all competitors. We’re all professional athletes, and I think guys do want to make the play. It’s just the matter of fact of going out there and doing it on a consistent basis.

Corey Peters said the bye week made it easier to just focus on getting a win this week.

I think it’s important to just—we kind of move on from the first half of the season and just kind of refocus. I think that the week off helped us with that, so we’re looking forward to a division game with Tampa Bay. We know that they’re going to be very motivated, and so we’ve got to bring our A-game, go down there and try to get a win.

Kemal Ishmael emphasized that the division is not out of reach.

We’re still motivated. We have – we can go 10-6. We’re still motivated. We’re just going to go out there and finish out the season how we’re supposed to and just play hard and see what happens, and if we play how we’re supposed to play and how we’re capable of playing, we’ll be where we want to be.