(Do you have enough bodies at safety this week?)
Yes, I do. We're going to have Nick Collins and Charlie Peprah and Jarrett Bush will work back there. So we feel good.
(Do you have any other options there?)
No, that's where we feel we are for this week. I think Anthony Smith is better than we expected, so we'll see how the week works out for him. Atari is definitely going to be challenged this week and possibly next week.
(How is it going to help you playing in a dome after playing in one last week?)
The biggest thing about playing in domes, we have the opportunity to work on FieldTurf in the Hutson Center, so from that standpoint we have plenty of practice and time on the FieldTurf. It's just really the noise. That's the thing you have to make sure that you spend some extra time. We feel we have done as good a job as we possibly could as far as going all the way back. We do it in the spring, we do it in the summer, and coming off of one dome to the next, you do have some carryover. We have done some things, if the media was down there early in the practice, just working crowd noise in the pre-practice too just to spend a little more time on it. We did last week. We felt it was a good carryover. We felt like we are built offensively for that, communication-wise and also with their no-huddle that Atlanta uses. It's great work for our defense to work on their communication. Anytime you have an opportunity to stress out your team in a practice environment to improve your communication, I think it is a positive.
(Do you kind of feel like if you can handle the Metrodome you can handle anywhere?)
Well, the score of the game has a lot to do with how well the dome works. It was pretty quiet over there in the second half at the Metrodome. I have played in the Atlanta dome a number of times. Arthur Blank does a great job on gameday. It will be exciting, it will be loud, so it will be a big challenge for us.
(What did you think of Matt Ryan coming out and his development?)
I think they have done an excellent job with him and I think he is everything everybody thought he was going to be. Having the opportunity to talk to Jeff Jagodzinski, who coached Matt there the last year, he is just very cerebral. I am very impressed with his decision-making. I think him and Aaron Rodgers have a lot of similarities for young quarterbacks to be able to manage a game, to operate in and out of concepts as well as they do. He does an excellent job with an offense that challenges you schematically. Mike Mularkey does a very good job, he has been around a long time. They've got a very good run game and they build things off of that. Like I said, he does a great job of throwing the ball where it needs to go and handles pressure very well, so we've been impressed with him.
(Ryan came in after the Michael Vick situation and Aaron had to deal with things here as well. Do you see any traits that they share?)
I would say consistency in their personalities. I don't know Matt personally, but he seems like a very consistent young man and has been successful, and I'm sure that has a lot to do with it. He looks like he is the same personality week in and week out, and I think that has a lot to do with his level play. He looks to be a very consistent quarterback.
(When you look back to Sunday, that might be the last time you face the circus of Packers vs. Brett Favre. Is it nice to be rid of that?)
I'm rid of it; you need to get rid of it.
(Do they use the no-huddle more at home?)
I would say so. I think that's common. I don't know the exact stat for series on the road as opposed to home. They play very well at home and their record reflects it.
(What have they been doing with Roddy White and how do you plan on defending him?)
Roddy, I was asked this question this morning, I think he definitely would fall into the category of a complete receiver. He has the size, the strength, the speed. He plays with a physical presence. We were able to watch him live out here at Lambeau two years ago. I was very impressed with him in person. Sometimes when you don't see players until the first time you see them live, you appreciate them. I was impressed with him that day and it's no surprise to me that he is having the back-to-back-to-back seasons that he has. I think he has an excellent coach in Terry Robiskie. I think Terry does a very good job with those guys. A talented young man, very productive, and obviously he is one of the targets that we'll be focused on.
(Mike Smith said he was impressed with your receivers because they're so interchangeable to help you get favorable matchups. Can you talk about how that is an asset to the offense?)
That's really how our whole perimeter group is trained from Day 1, and it has a lot to do with the individuals that are here, and every receiver in the room. You can even go into the tight end room and it would hold true there. They play every position. There's technically five positions that the receivers can play and every player is capable of playing every one of those five positions, and that's no different with the tight ends. There's technically four positions that the tight ends can play, and every one of our tight ends can play those positions. It gives us an opportunity to maximize our personnel usage, which is important anytime you experience injuries and you still want to stay conceptually sound versus your opponent. It's a tribute to the players and their coaches that we're able to be that flexible.
(Dom Capers said B.J. Raji already has played more snaps this year than all of last year. What does that say about him?)
It says we've been thin at the defensive line, No. 1. But B.J. is having a heck of a year. That was not by design, and he's done a great job with it. You compare him this year to last year and it's night and day. He missed training camp last year and it took him a while to get going, but he's playing at a very high level. He's a player that probably doesn't get the recognition, but if you asked the opponent's center that he just got done playing against or the opponent's offensive line coach, I think it would be consistent that they'd have a very high opinion of B.J. He's having a very good year.
(Aaron's had two good games in a row. What's he doing better compared to earlier in the year?)
He's in a rhythm. I think he's just being more exact with his decision-making. His ball accuracy has been pretty consistent all year. I think sometimes you can play a little too fast. Sometimes you can be a little too smart. We had some of the turnovers there in the beginning of the year, particularly on third down, that's not what you want. But I think he's really in a groove right now. He's playing with a lot of rhythm. He's making plays with his feet. He's playing the way that he expects to play and the way we expect him to play as we move forward.
(Did it take some time to get used to life without Jermichael?)
I don't think there's any question that Aaron went through the adjustment period. I stand up here time and time again, when you talk about an offensive philosophy, our offense is built around making the quarterback successful. That's everything that we do from Day 1. It starts up front with the line and how you run the ball, what comes off the run game and so forth through protections. But when you do everything to make him successful, and then we had some abrupt changes in our offensive personnel earlier in the season, there's definitely an adjustment period, and I think he's worked through it very well.
(Dimitri Nance seemed to make the most of his opportunities. Have you seen growth there and do you want to get him more involved?)
Absolutely. I think Dimitri is a fine young player. He was in a position where he came from Atlanta, and the terminology was completely different. There really wasn't a lot of carryover for him. I understand football is football, but we do a lot of things with our backs, as far as what we ask them to do, and that's why there's actually a number of times that we had packages for him in the game that we just never got to. It probably took a little longer for him to get on the field than I would have liked. Really part of that had more to do with our third-down struggles, frankly. Now that we have him involved, he's caught up on everything, and I would like to get him more in the flow of the game.
(Does having Dimitri help at all this week considering he was with Atlanta earlier this year?)
Not really. Personally I haven't even asked him. I'm sure at some point when you talk to him, the assistant coaches may ask him a question or two. But at the end of the day we're going to trust our evaluation and the process we go through on both sides of the ball.
(Given the stability you've had on the offensive line, has it allowed you to do more offensively than you've been able to do the past couple years?)
That's a good point. I don't know if it's obvious to you, but we're carrying more volume up front as far as the run concepts and the protection concepts than you probably normally would. A lot of that in the past was due to, we had so much change in our offensive line. It's so important to have continuity up front because the game really starts up there, and for us to play the way we want to play and create some type of balance and continue to stay out of a two-shell game where the defense is playing you one way the whole time, it's important for us to continue to grow and be productive up front, and I think we're doing that.
(Did Jenkins have a setback with the calf?)
Being smart there. Dr. McKenzie in his examination this morning, he felt that he didn't want to risk putting Cullen out there, so we're just being smart with him today. It will probably be a similar approach tomorrow, and we'll see how his exam goes on Friday.
(On special teams, do you re-evaluate using Tramon as a punt returner when he's such a vital starter on defense? Do you believe in having a return specialist?)
That's really a roster structure question that I think I've answered back in training camp. I'm not going to change now, the way we approach. We have two starters as our returners, and I'm comfortable with that, and I understand the risk involved.