Q: What is like having Deion Sanders attending practice?
Mora: It's a lot like having Magic (Johnson) out here. Tomorrow Russell Maryland is going to be around. When you can get great players, whether they are football players or basketball players, it's good to have them around your guys. They can have an impact on them. Deion is a guy who I spoke with two weeks ago that talked about wanting to come in and give DeAngelo (Hall) some insight into watching film and technique and what it takes to have longevity in this league and the work ethic you need. He's obviously an expert in playing that position so why not have him here.
Q: How can players like Deion & Magic influence a team's psychology?
Mora: I want them to see champions, winners, leaders; guys that have had an impact on the game. Let them talk to them about what their mindset was when they were preparing or when they were competing. Magic, the other day when he met with some of the guys, talked about life after basketball and life after football and preparing for that. This is a good time to do it because you're not preparing for a game. You've got everyone in the same environment. It's not the offseason where guys are a little bit scattered. I think it's just a really good time to do stuff like that.
Q: When you were in San Francisco, did Deion ever play receiver against your 49ers?
Mora: I don't remember. It surprised me when he told me today that he hasn't played for the Falcons in 13 years. It just didn't seem that long to me. I know he's played, but I didn't realize it had been that long.
Q: How is your team looking from an injury standpoint?
Mora: We had a lot of high ankle sprains. You saw (Ben) Claxton today -- he's out for a while. I think the right leg is the one that hurts and the left leg just has a wrap. (Tyson) Clabo, (Quinn) Ojinnaka, all three of those guys - Claxton actually is a toe. The other guys -- Clabo and Ojinnaka are high ankle sprains. (DeAndra) Cobb also has a high ankle sprain. (Keith) Brooking has just a little tweak of his ankle. Fred McCrary was just sore, he'll be out tomorrow. We got (Cedric) Bonner back today. (Jason) Webster was back today. Cole Magner was still out and (Brent) Grimes was still out. It was good to see (Allen) Rossum back out. Derrick Ballard is still out. The guys that would be questionable for this week, questionable at best, would be Cobb, Ojinnaka, Claxton and Clabo. We've got some guys that we didn't play the other day so we'll get a look at them. Alge practiced today and he looked good. I think we'll wait until later in the week and see where he is.
Q: Is the Michael Koenen situation a good or a bad thing?
Mora: I don't know if it's a good problem to have or a bad problem to have. I don't even know if it's a problem, it's just an issue. I don't want to say he proved that he can do all three yet. I think you have to do it for more than one game, but he certainly looks like he has the potential to do it. Like I said the other night, we have to decide as a staff, as an organization if that's the way we want to go. Then we have to have plans in place in case he gets hurt or if he were to start struggling in one area or another. We have to have those things in place if we decide to go that way. We haven't decided that yet, we're still weighing our options. I tell you what, it was great to see him go out there and bang them through. He put four through, he punted really well. He has really expanded his repertoire. He can do that backwards one and drop it in there. He can do a forward one and get some backspin. He's got those screamers out of bounds that we're doing that guys can't return. He's really expanded what he can do as a kicker.
Q: What can you tell us about how the defensive tackles are playing?
Mora: Even for me, knowing the schemes, it really takes the film sometimes to tell you what's happening in there. You can look at the pictures and have a feel, but to really tell who's playing well and who's struggling and how they're attacking you, sometimes you have to just look at the film. That first drive wasn't necessarily a function of the two tackles. It's kind of like I said after the game, eight guys playing new together. They just weren't honed up. It wasn't any one guy. I call it first game contact issues. We played with our pads a little high. Sometimes we got on the wrong side of a block. We didn't necessarily come off blocks and thump people like we will. Once you watch the film, it really didn't concern me in terms of going â€˜oh gosh, we've got problems.' It's not like guys were getting blown out, it was things that are very correctable with just playing a little bit. That first game contact - just sometimes getting high, not bending your knees. It's the first time you've really been able to put your chest on someone and roll your hips and you're not used to doing that. We just got to get honed up, but we'll be ok.
Q: How do you balance practicing hitting, with practicing not to get hurt?
Mora: It's really difficult because you can't absorb injuries like you used to be able to do with the salary cap. It just doesn't seem like there's as many players out there anymore that can come in and get it done right away. You have to really measure how much contact you let these guys have. Everything we do, as you've seen, is on our feet. You certainly don't want Ed Hartwell putting his chest on Warrick Dunn on every play because it's going to wear both of them out, especially Warrick. You just have to find that balance of thumping some guys once and a while and creating some drills where they're rolling their hips, hitting the sled and things like that. Then take the four preseason games and knock the rust off.
Q: How did the nose tackles play the other night?
Mora: They actually did ok. (Darrell) Shropshire and Tommy Jackson were the two guys who played there primarily. I thought they both did ok. It's not like I'm doing cartwheels or anything but they did ok. You see potential and you see something you can work with. It wasn't disappointing at all, as a matter of fact it might have been a little encouraging if anything. But we still have a long way to go.
Q: How did Jimmy Williams play?
Mora: He was ok. He wasn't tested much. They threw that slant in the end zone that was kind of behind the guy. Those little quick outs, those are nothing. He didn't get a lot of action really. He was ok. DeAngelo (Hall) played well.
Q: Did you get a feel for the three and four receiver spots?
Mora: Not really. I was hoping (Adam) Jennings would get some shots. We threw to him a couple of times but we didn't get it to him, same with (Jerome) Pathon. It's hard to tell. (Kevin) Youngblood and those guys did ok. The tight ends caught the ball well. It was hard to tell. I'm glad we have a couple more games. One thing that was good was we got to see the kicker kick. We let Tony Yelk kickoff twice and kick an extra point, but you got to see Michael (Koenen) go out and kick four field goals. We got to see what (Jerious) Norwood could do out in the open field. We got to see Jennings return. We got to see Ojinnaka and (Frank) Omiyale play an extended amount of time, but we didn't get to evaluate that third receiver. I don't feel like we got a great evaluation on our back up safeties, although they did ok, just not enough action down the middle. Hopefully we'll get more situations this week.
Q: What about Jerious Norwood's performance?
Mora: He can motor. The screen for the touchdown was pretty good, too. That's what we thought he would do in the open field. Like I said after the game, the thing that impressed me about him was that he lowered his shoulders and got three yards a couple of times. He needs to be able to do that because there's not going to be a big hole every time you carry the ball. You have to be able to get two or three or four the hard way and he did that a couple of times. Hopefully, he can do it a few more times.
Q: Will Tony Yelk get some chances in Green Bay?
Mora: I think in fairness to him, we'll give him some kicks -- more than just kickoffs. We might even punt him a couple of times. He's got a good leg. He kicked off well. I think he's a pretty decent kicker myself, but I'd like to get him some kicks.