HEAD COACH BRUCE ARIANS
(On if RB Ronald Jones II could be available on Sunday and if RB Leonard Fournette would take his starting role if not)
"We'll wait and see on 'Ro'. It's more of a, 'Can he protect himself?' The procedure went well – it's whether or not he can use that hand to protect himself. Leonard will step back into that spot [if Jones cannot play], yes."
(On K Ryan Succop, P Bradley Pinion and LS Zach Triner being placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list and on the team bringing in P Dustin Colquitt, K Brett Maher and LS Garrison Sanborn)
"They're sitting [and] going through the testing [protocol]. We're going to have a bunch of kickers, snappers and punters on our team – possibly by Friday or Saturday. We're just waiting to see how it plays out. Knock on wood [that] the other guys will come back clean. We might still keep all those other guys around just in case. Can't have enough of them anymore – that's for sure."
(On RB Leonard Fournette's head space after being a 'healthy scratch' last week)
"He's in a great spot. He understood everything last week and he understands everything this week. He had a great practice today [and was] into it. Leonard is a pro. Just like everybody else on our team, it's a week-to-week thing."
(On the importance of solidifying the third-down running back entering the final stretch of the season)
"I think [Tom Brady] trusts all the guys. Each week, each gameplan is a little bit different depending on who we're playing and who's the best matchup. Shady (LeSean McCoy) did a good job last week, obviously, and we'll just see how it goes. We'll play it by ear each week."
(On who would be the emergency player at each of the three specialist positions)
"Anthony Nelson is our [emergency] punting snapper, Ryan Jensen is the short snapper and Blaine Gabbert is the holder. Those guys all executed really, really well today. The punting job – depending on gameday – would probably be Ryan Succop, Greg Joseph or whoever the kicker is."
(On his impressions of Falcons QB Matt Ryan and the Atlanta offense)
"I still see a lot of dangerous guys out there. Obviously, I think they're missing [Todd] Gurley a little bit, but those guys – they're going to run the ball, they're going to mix it up [and] they're going deep. I don't see any drop off in Matt's play. When he's protected, he's solid. It's just a matter of, for us, getting that running game shut down and then getting after him."
(On Falcons LB Deion Jones and the Atlanta defense)
"He's playing fantastic. When you have Grady [Jarrett] Deion and [Keanu] Neal in the middle of your defense, you've got a chance to have a heck of a defense. Deion is playing sideline to sideline. He's got DB (defensive back) speed, so he's a unique cat."
(On Falcons Interim Head Coach Raheem Morris earning another chance to serve as a head coach in the NFL)
"I would hope so. I think as you grow as a coach, you learn. I think for him, having had the development of coaching offense and defense while he's in Atlanta just makes him even more of a better candidate. Obviously, he has a great rapport with players and players love playing for him. If you're looking for a head coach, what else are you looking for?"
(On what has changed for Atlanta under Morris)
"Mixing it up a little bit more. More different fronts [and] different blitzes. Their blitz package is different than it's been [and] they're getting after the quarterback pretty [well], but they're stopping the run. High, high energy, guys flying to the ball [and] extremely well coached."
(On QB Tom Brady having a high quarterback rating in recent weeks)
"I don't know why anyone's criticizing Tom. What he did at the end of the half and to start the second half [against] Minnesota – very, very few teams can score 17 points in a matter of five or six minutes. If we finished the half with 17 points, I don't [care] how we start. He's not getting enough credit for what he's doing."
(On how many pins RB Ronald Jones II had placed in his finger and if Jones II can be expected to recover quickly similarly to WR Chris Godwin returning from a similar procedure in one week)
"I don't think so just because of Chris being a receiver and being in space – [he] was able to put that brace on and play. He had 10 pins, I think. I don't think Ronald has more than two. A running back defending himself – there's contact every single play. You have to put the ball in your left hand sometimes to do that. There have been runners who are one-arm runners [but] I just want to make sure he's more than capable of defending himself. We've got good backs, so we don't have to push it."
(On which players he believes deserve to be selected to the Pro Bowl)
"A bunch. I wouldn't even know where to start. Defensively, obviously JPP (Jason Pierre-Paul), [Ndamukong] Suh, Shaq [Barrett], Devin [White], Carlton [Davis III]. Offensively, I think Tom [Brady] has had a Pro Bowl year. A bunch of guys – Ronald Jones, guards, tackles – whoever the fans want. We've got a bunch of good guys playing really, really well."
(On if he did anything in Wednesday's practice to address the tackling issues from Sunday's game)
"No. There's nothing you can do in shorts to fix tackling other than emphasizing it, break down in practice and get in front of people rather than tagging off."
(On if WR Scotty Miller can do anything to be on the field more and if the offense misses his speed when he is out of the game)
"Yes and no. I think if we have 80 snaps on offense, he'll probably get a bunch more. If you have 42 or whatever it was, you're not going to get as many – a lot of guys aren't going to get as many. He does a great job with his opportunities – he's always ready to go. Each week is a different gameplan, so he's done a lot of good things for us and we'll continue to use him."
(On when RB Ronald Jones II may test his finger and the job of the front office to build depth at the running back position this offseason)
"I think Ro – hopefully tomorrow we'll see. But, definitely Friday. I can't say enough about Jason [Licht] and the job he's done. This is a heck of a roster – we've got depth everywhere. When we've had guys go down, we've had quality people [replace them]. Just watching them work in the last 24 hours with snappers, punters and kickers – getting guys in here was amazing. Quality people, too."
ASSISTANT HEAD COACH/RUN GAME COORDINATOR HAROLD GOODWIN
(On if T Tristan Wirfs has surprised him with his evolution throughout the season)
"Yeah. Obviously, he's a special rookie. Probably the last special one I've been around was Maurkice Pouncey – just to come in and be a Day 1 starter type of guy [and] to excel at a high level from a playing standpoint has been awesome. I've been shocked – especially with all the guys he's been against from a pass rush standpoint – he's held up pretty good. Obviously, we've talked before [about] that one hiccup against Khalil Mack, but other than that he's been phenomenal."
(On Wirfs being exactly what the team had hoped when it traded up in the NFL Draft to select him)
"I would say he's probably exceeded our expectations, especially for a rookie. To go up to get him was big by our GM and our owners to allow that to happen. It's huge because it would be tough to say where we would be today without him. Right now, you can't imagine life without him. It's been great. To me personally, he should be a Pro Bowl player. The way he's played, the way he's produced week in and week out, the pass rushers he's seen – he should be an All-Pro in my opinion. Hopefully we don't screw him up and he can continue to play that way. I like him a lot [and] I'm glad we got him."
(On where the offensive line needs to play best in the final three weeks of the regular season)
"Continue to protect the quarterback and let our run game be efficient. Obviously, every tote we get, we have to make sure it's positive yards. The biggest thing going down this last stretch is being able to control the line of scrimmage from a run-game standpoint and obviously keep Tom [Brady] safe in the pocket. That's what we've been focused on every day and that's what we must continue to do."
CORNERBACK CARLTON DAVIS III
(On Falcons WR Julio Jones and what he remembers from playing Jones in previous seasons)
"He's just an all-around good receiver. He can run past you, he can out-quick you, he can out-physical you [and] he attacks the ball. He's like every different kind of receiver put into one, and that's what makes him hard [to defend]. He can beat you in so many different ways. You have to be on your p's and q's for sure."
(On how much better the defense performed coming out of the Bye Week)
"I think we did a really good job with our fundamentals. Later on in the season, guys always have trouble with simple stuff like technique and things that we do every day but that we take for granted as the season goes along. We just got back to the basics and it worked out for us [last] Sunday. Moving forward, we have to continue to improve upon those small things, not take them for granted and we'll be good."
(On how the defensive backs benefit from the strong pass rush up front)
"It's a corner's dream to play [with] guys who really know how to rush the passer. Having those guys on our edge definitely gives you confidence on the back end when you're covering because you know the quarterback doesn't have long before he has to get the ball out. I love playing with those guys."
TACKLE TRISTAN WIRFS
(On how much going against players like outside linebackers Shaquil Barrett and Jason Pierre-Paul in training camp helped prepare him for the season)
"Yeah, that was awesome getting to go against guys like that, especially when I was still early in camp. I hadn't seen anybody else really, but seeing how slippery Shaq is and JPP – he's a seasoned vet – it's awesome. He's crazy good. Getting to go against guys like that was really helpful."
(On what has stood out to him about QB Tom Brady)
"I think just his leadership ability – that's been the biggest thing for me. A lot of my former coaches, family and everything have asked me about that. You read stories about Tom being a really good leader, but being able to see it firsthand and experience it is crazy. People kind of gravitate toward him. He's just that natural leader and he's got a presence about him. When we're out on the field, I think that stands out the most."
(On if he has done anything for his mother to thank her for all of the sacrifices she made for him)
"I didn't buy her a new house, but I paid off her house. She really likes it in Mount Vernon and I really like it in Mount Vernon. I'm sure one day I will get her a house, but it will still be in Mount Vernon. It will just be newer."