Here’s what Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan had to say Sunday about the season opener against the Eagles (8:20 p.m., Thursday, NBC):
On the regular season finally being here:
“Excited. Obviously, we’ve put in a lot of hard work during the offseason, during training camp to get to this point. I feel like we have a good, talented team. Guys that have worked really hard. We’re excited about the opportunity Thursday and hopefully kicking this thing off on the right foot.”
On how different training camp and preseason were from past years due to certain players not playing:
“I think every year is different. Whether you have guys that are hurt or getting healthy, whatever it is, every year shakes out a little differently. The key is to make the most of every opportunity you get on the practice field and in the games. I think collectively our guys have done that, we’ve got a lot of young guys on this football team both offensively and defensively that are going to help us through the course of the year and make a big impact. I think the extended playing time that a lot of those guys got will benefit us and some of the more veteran guys that’s the evolution of guys’ careers. Sometimes a little bit later in guys’ careers become a little bit more veteran. It’s more important and you’ve got to get your work in on the practice field. I’ve dealt with that with a number of different guys throughout my career and I thought our guys this year who didn’t play as much in the preseason prepared really well on the practice field.”
On two new starters with Brandon Fusco and Ricky Ortiz and how do they fit in on the operations:
“I think both of those guys fit in well for us. Obviously, Fusco has played in this type of system with Kyle (Shanahan) last year in San Francisco so I think there’s a lot of familiarity there. Veteran guy played a lot and is very comfortable. Ricky is really athletic, has done a great job of picking up our scheme, he’s a really, really hard worker. I mean he’s into it. He’s come a long way in the short amount of time in being here, so I’ve been impressed by the way he’s gotten better.”
On the defensive front that he is going to be facing with the Eagles:
“Obviously a very good front, front four. The defensive line rotation, their stout inside they’ve got good edge rushers. They have Michael Bennett, who we’ve seen a lot in Seattle, I know he’s a talented player. It’ll be a good test for us up front, for sure and they do a good job with their scheme of utilizing all those guys and creating matchups that they find favorable. It’ll be a good challenge, a good task for us on Thursday night.”
On though it wasn’t the result he wanted the last time they faced the Eagles, he made some plays – can he take something out of that:
“Yeah sure. There are definitely somethings we take from that game last year. We’re a different football team, they’re a different football team. That’s one of the things as a veteran, I’ve come to realize that teams are different year in and year out. At the same time, whether it’s scheme, whether it’s similar players that we’re going against, there’s certainly things that we can draw on from the last time we played them.”
On how well equipped their offensive line is to handle the physical test against Eagles’ defensive line:
“I think our offensive line is up to the challenge every week. They do such a good job of helping the run game and pass protection and our staff does such a good job of organizing our game plan to feature our strengths. I think our guys up front will do a great job.”
On whether seeing these guys right away will erase any bad taste that might have lingered:
“I think you move on from that stuff as you start to train for the new season. It’s not about them. For us, it’s about us and how good of a football team that this group that we have can become. Beyond that, that’s all the motivation that I think we need. To see how far we can take this team right here.”
On the test to open up with the Super Bowl champions:
“Yeah, they had a great team last year. I’m certain that the atmosphere will be good. Obviously with them celebrating like they did last year. Once that settles it comes down to us, our 11 on the field against their 11. It’s a good football team for sure and we are too so it’s going to be a good, fun game on Thursday.”
On whether he is comfortable with the red-zone play going into this season:
“Yeah, absolutely I feel really good about where we’re at. Obviously, we’ve put in a lot of work in the red area, it’s been a point of emphasis for us. I feel good about it. I think all of us, we're just excited to get started and to get going.”
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