On players opting out of the season: “I think everybody circumstances are different. You have to do what’s best for yourself and your family and your love ones around you. I think that if you’re around people who are at risk, I’d encourage you to think really long and hard about it.
“For me, specifically I’m in a situation where my day-to-day is not surrounded by people who are at high risk and we’re kind of able to bubble our little world and make sure that we are being as safe as possible. I feel comfortable coming in and getting ready to start the season.”
On not playing exhibition games: “It will be different. I kind of like the (exhibition) season games to be able to get out there and knock some of the rust off … and be able to go through it. Go through your routine. Make sure that you’re doing the things you need to do and make sure you have things ironed out. We’re not going to have that luxury. But I think (Falcons coach) Dan Quinn is putting together a really good schedule to try and simulate as much as we can on our own what that experience is going to be like.
“For a guy like me, I’m in Year 13. I think it’s going to be easier for a guy like myself having been through so many different situations, so many years, so many games played and feeling comfortable in those. But for our rookies and young guys who have not had that experience, I think we’ve got to have to help them out as much as we can and try and make them feel as comfortable as possible. Because when we kick it off against Seattle Week 1, that game is just as important as Week 17. It means just as much.”
On the Saints and Bucs getting most the early NFC South hype: “It’s one of those things, who cares about anybody else. We have to care of our own business…It doesn’t bother me that other people are talked about…I don’t worry about it too much. I try and make sure that we are focused on taking care of our own business.”
On if there will be some carryover from last season’s 6-2 finish: “I think a lot of it can because there is so much continuity. I think sometimes when you have a finish like that, but there are changes that momentum and that feeling that you had kind of goes away. But I really feel like … with Raheem Morris kind of stepping in the second half of the season and helping out with the defense and now with him being the coordinator, Dirk Koetter in year two, Dan Quinn really comfortable in his role of kind of facilitating everything.
“I just feel like we are in a good spot. I feel like there’s tons of continuity with the players and an there’s an understanding of what it takes to be successful, particularly for our young guys. We had a ton of young guys playing late in the season last year. Even though we weren’t in the mix for the playoffs, you have to learn how to win in this league. I think that experience of learning what it takes, how to finish out games, how to find ways to win when it’s not perfect, those are the things that will pay dividends for us this season.”
On if healthy Todd Gurley could change the offense: “He’s been one of the most dynamic players when he’s on the field in our league. (He’s) certainly a game changer. I had the opportunity to work out with him a little bit and spend just a little bit of time with him. He seems to be in a really good place. He looked great on the field. Has been working extremely hard to get himself in position to be ready to go. I’m excited we have him. I think he adds a lot to what we can do.”
On how much longer he’ll play with Tom Brady being 43 and Drew Brees 41: “I’d like to chase those guys. I feel good. My body feels good. I’m still as excited about this as ever. I’m still feel like I’m playing some really good football. I feel like my best is still in front of me. I’ll take it one day at a time for sure, but I’m doing everything that I can to ensure that I can play as long as I can go. I’m excited about that. Hopefully I can be 43 and sitting here having this same interview with you being excited for an upcoming season.”
On Brady, Peyton Manning and possibly Aaron Rodgers not finishing with the team that drafted them: “I’ll get there when I get there. At this point I haven’t had that feeling. I haven’t had that come up or had that situation in front of me. Everybody’s career arc is different. Everybody’s career goes in different directions. One of the things I’ve learned along the way is worry about today. Worry about this year and this season. Then worry about next year and then go from there. We’ll cross that bridge if and when we get there.”
On not being in the NFL Network’s Top 100 player ranking this season: “That kind of stuff doesn’t change my day. It’s never been … bulletin-board material (for me) or anything like that. I know what I can do. I know what I’m capable of doing. I feel like every week I gave our team a great chance to win. If we get the ball late in the game, I know I have what it takes to finish it out. I don’t worry about that stuff. I just focus on trying to do the job the best I can.”
On if he wants a Super Bowl ring or a bust in Canton, but could only have one: “Right now, Super Bowl ring is what is motivating me to get out of bed. Right. It’s about winning that. So, hopefully one will go with the other, but if I had to pick one it would be Super Bowl ring.”
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