Q&A: Mike Mularkey pronounces the offense is ready for the season

FLOWERY BRANCH – In perhaps the afternoon's most interesting matchup, Falcons offensive coordinator Mike Mularkey will match wits with Pittsburgh's respected defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau on Sunday.

On Friday, Mularkey spoke with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution about Matt Ryan, Tony Gonzalez, his days in Pittsburgh as a player and coach and how the offense is ready to go after the first team scored just one touchdown in 13 possessions during the preseason.

Q: How does your wide receiver group look this year?

A: It's good to have Harry [Douglas] back. I know that we missed him last year. He can make some explosive plays which we missed some last year.

Q: What do you see from Matt Ryan as he's about to begin his third year in the league?

A: I don't want to use the word comfortable, because Matt won't ever get comfortable. He's his own worst critic. He always wants to do better. He's already responding to things before having to be coached on them. He rarely makes the same mistake twice. I'm looking for good things from Matt going into his third year.

Q: Are there any fond memories from your days in Pittsburgh that you've have to push aside as you get ready for the opener?

A: I spent a long time there, 11 years playing and coaching there. I really respect the Rooneys. There are a lot of people in the organization that I have great friendships with, but that will all go aside at 1 o'clock.

Q: How much stock should be put into the fact that the first string offense scored only one touchdown in the preseason?

A: We, as least as a staff, did not put a lot of stock into it. The fortunate thing we got to do was work against 3-4 teams. ... We got a lot done.

Q: How is tight end Tony Gonzalez looking going into his 14th season?

A: Tony came in last year and the offense was brand new to him. He's much more familiar with the offense. He even looks like he's in better shape than he was last year. His blocking has been better than last year. I think he's stronger than he was. It's amazing that he's been able to play this long and keep the stature up with the demands of that position. That's a hard position. It's a credit to him because he's constantly working to stay at a top level.

Q: What are your thoughts on Michael Palmer making the team?

A: Michael Palmer [the undrafted free agent tight end from Clemson and Parkview High] came in and he just wowed us. That's a big thing. ... From day one he gradually got better and better. Then our quarterbacks got confident with him in the passing game.

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