Julio Jones, Roddy White, Lamar Holmes and Devonta Freeman all spoke to the media before practice today and had a lot of things to say coming off of last week's win and looking toward this week's matchup with Cincinnati.
On Sunday's win:
Julio Jones had praise for Matt Ryan's performance in Sunday's win over the Saints.
Matt always had that potential, man. Our line did a great job for us. They gave Matt the time to go out there and throw the ball, and we've got four of the best receivers in the league here, and we just went out there and made plays for him, which we do every day at practice. It just felt like practice. It's something we do every day.
Lamar Holmes shared his thoughts on the offensive line's performance against New Orleans.
We've improved. We're not great yet-we're not there yet-but every week we're improving, continuing to get better. It might be one block here, one block there, just get us a couple more yards in the run game, set things up better for us.
Holmes also said that the offensive line did gain confidence from their performance in week one, as well as identifying areas where they need to improve.
You gain confidence from it, because you see what you can do, and also, you see what you need to work on to build and continue to get better. So the confidence, that's a big factor. It helps you build. But at the end of the day, you've got to continue to work to get better.
Rookie running back Devonta Freeman enjoyed his first NFL game, but is keeping things in perspective.
It was good. I mean, it was huge, but I feel like football is football. It's the same thing. Just one of those things-just one of those games where you just prepare, and I've been playing football so long, so it's natural.
On road games and noise:
Julio Jones said that the team cannot be phased by crowd noise and has to execute.
Last time I checked, man, the field is still the same. But you can't let the crowd get into it-that's why we're professionals, our ability to go out there and perform under those situations. So I don't think it's going to be a big deal for us, going on the road. We've just got to continue to do what we do.
Jones also said that the team will be prepared for crowd noise on Sunday.
We can't worry about noise. Noise doesn't affect what we do on that field. We practice that. We've been practicing the noise situations, just being able to communicate out there together, passing calls out, signals and everything. So as long as we can do that on the road, then we'll be alright.
Roddy White welcomes the challenge of road games.
Yeah, I love road games, too. They're the most exciting games. I like being at home and sleeping in my own bed, but when you go on the road and just the feeling that everybody's against you, and it's 53 guys out there and you've got to go out there and you've got to find a way to win over the crowd and get those guys to be quiet. There's just something about that feeling that you get, and you get anxious. You want to get out there and get it done. So we'll be excited to go on the road. Hopefully we won't have bad weather, we can go out there and run the offense.
Lamar Holmes talked about how the offensive line will have to adjust the way that they communicate at the line of scrimmage in light of the crowd noise on Sunday.
It's going to factor in. They have a big part of-I mean, I guess we'll just have to do it by touch and point now. The Bengals, their crowd gets really loud on us, you just have to touch. Or if we're in the huddle, you just say it before, in the huddle, if we get this look on this play, just be ready for this.
Devonta Freeman said that he expects a lot of crowd noise, but he feels his experience in college prepared him for it.
I've played in big games before when I was in college. Of course, this isn't college, but I've played in big games before. So I kind of know what to expect and stuff. It's going to be a lot of noise, but football is football.
Freeman is also aware of the importance of maintaining communication at the line of scrimmage regardless of crowd noise.
It's going to be important. I mean, we need to be-everybody needs to be on the same page. If not, that could cost us a game, cause somebody to get hurt-anything. Miscommunication [can] cause a sack-anything. So I think that's one of the main, key things.
On Cincinnati's defense:
Julio Jones is impressed with Cincinnati's secondary. When asked what he thought about the Bengals' secondary, Jones said:
I mean, everything. Man, they've got five first rounders in their secondary. So they can mix it up pretty good with us, but we've got to go out there and make those plays when they present [themselves].
Roddy White said that Cincinnati's defense hasn't changed much since defensive coordinator Paul Guenther took over for Mike Zimmer, who is now the head coach of the Minnesota Vikings.
No, they do a lot of things the same. Any time you come from underneath the same tree, you’ve been around a coordinator for that long, you kind of just follow a lot of things that he does, because he was so successful at doing it. [Mike] Zimmer’s always had one of the top five defenses in the league. So [Paul Guenther]’s doing a lot of things that [Zimmer] did. And they’ve got good personnel, so he can just go out there and cut it loose.
Lamar Holmes is impressed with Cincinnati's defense as well.
Their entire defense is good overall. You can't just single out one guy--with Carlos Dunlap over here, they've got a good secondary, Reggie Nelson--I mean, overall, their whole entire defense is good. We've just got to come together with the game plan that Coach has put in store for us and just go out there and execute it the way that we can.
Devonta Freeman knows Geno Atkins is a good player, but he's just focused on getting himself prepared.
No, I'm not worried about [Geno Atkins]. I don't focus on him. I focus on myself. I know he's a physical player and stuff, but if I come prepared and come to play, do my job, I'll be alright.
On Atlanta's offensive line:
Julio Jones talked about the offensive line adapting after Jake Matthews left the game at the half on Sunday with an ankle injury.
Smitty said it the best-you know, you're one play away. All those guys-and we've been practicing like that-I mean, we haven't missed a beat. Sam went down, moved Jake over, and then Jake just went down, you know? So we brought up Gabe. So those guys haven't missed a beat. They're doing a great job for us, and they're able to let Matt get the ball down the field.
I asked Lamar Holmes about the importance of chemistry along the offensive line and how he felt about that chemistry after Matthews left the game and Gabe Carimi came in at left tackle.
As long as we talk and everything we'll be good. I mean, you're right, chemistry-with certain guys have been working with certain players, and you know exactly how he's going to act if there's a certain look or is he going to be there if something happens. But as long as you're talking and everything, you're making the guy who's not used to being there with you aware that something could be coming or something-you could be getting this-chemistry is a big part of that.
I also asked Holmes about the focus Mike Tice has placed on communicating at the line of scrimmage.
Yeah, absolutely. And he's been big on--whatever it is--he won't necessarily come up with the words that we need to say. He's like, "Y'all guys are out there. Whatever y'all need to say to each other--communicate, let them know something's coming, and I'll leave it up to y'all." So he emphasizes chemistry because you have to communicate out there.
On Atlanta's diverse offensive attack:
Devonta Freeman enjoys being a part of such a strong group of running backs.
It's good to have great running backs like that, because I'm a team-first guy. Like, whoever's in the game, I know they're preparing just like I'm preparing. So I just feel like it just helps us to show that we're not selfish, man and help us and get us going. At the end of the day, even though it's a competing business, it's all good.
Julio Jones has been pleased with Devin Hester's development as a receiver.
Devin didn't play last year when he was in Chicago-no receiver, he was always just a return man. And he got here-he just needed a better understanding of the game. But he's a great route runner-great hands. He just needed to know the concept of why you're running this route. And we helped him along with that, and as you could see this past Sunday, he helped us out tremendously.
Roddy White likes the way they're able to move the ball with so many weapons and what that means for opposing defenses.
...that we can move the ball around like we've done, because a lot of success comes and these guys are trying to move coverage right and left and trying to figure everything out. It's so hard for the defensive coordinator to figure out which guy they want to play one on one. And last week we just took advantage of a lot of one on one opportunities that Devin and Harry had, and they made a lot of plays. So we've got to do it again this week. So the more film we can put up like that, the harder times defensive coordinators got to just have a chance to figure out what we're trying to do.
White also had some praise for teammate Harry Douglas. He doesn't think anyone who watches film underestimates Douglas.
I don't think--not if they're watching film. I don't think the defensive coordinators underestimate what he can do. Probably guys outside of that, because they don't practice against him every day or they don't see him on film and stuff like that. So as long as we continue to do what we've been doing, we just catch the ball, get yards after the catch, we'll be fine.
On back-to-back games against teams that made the playoffs last season:
Two games in a row against tough opponents reminds Julio Jones of his college days.
Yeah, it just reminds me of when I was at Alabama. The SEC, man, It's like every week you've got to go out there and play. Every week. But we're up for the challenge every week. We want to always go out there and do better than we did last week-than the previous week. But we know we left a lot out there on the field. Even though everybody said we had a great game, but here in this locker room, we feel like we could have been better. We've just got to continue to keep working.
Roddy White emphasized the importance of a quick start on Sunday.
Yeah, I think we've got to get off to a good start. It'll be good. Last week we didn't do that, so we've been focusing more on that after Wednesday's practice. It's pretty good. So yeah, it's evident that we [need to] get off to a really good start.
Lamar Holmes said that the team never has much time to celebrate a hard-fought win.
Really, after-a day and a half after that first win, you've got to kind of let that win go and just start focusing on the next team, because I learned from my first and second years that the NFL is a very humbling league.
Julio Jones also spoke about the inevitable comparisons between Jones and the Bengals' star receiver A.J. Green.
I know A.J. We don't talk about that. We're not on the field at the same time. He's got to go against our defense. I've got to go against his defense. So we just go out there and just try to make plays. It's no comparison, because we're two different guys. We play the same position.
Roddy White talked about what the individual records he's set mean to him in the context of his ultimate career goals as an NFL player.
It really-it means a lot. But at the end of the day, I just want to win a lot of games and hopefully win a Super Bowl. That's been my goal since I started playing here. And just being around the good teams that we've had for the last six, seven years-we've been close but just haven't gotten over that hump. So you look at those career goals and things you accomplish after you get done playing football and things like that. But at this point right now, I just want to focus on winning football games.
White also has a lot of confidence in the team around him, but wants to keep the focus in the right place.
Yeah, I hope so. I think we're talented enough. We've got a lot of good players on our team. But I feel like week in and week out it's going to be a challenge for us to just stay mentally focused and go out there and execute. And that's going to be our biggest task, just going out there very week, because we're going to have to play good every week and give ourselves a chance to win.
What are your thoughts on what the players had to say about this week's matchup? Discuss in the comments!