On if this will be his final training camp:

“Without a doubt, yes. Without question. Last year was just such a wonderful year and I told everybody I was going to retire last year, and I really meant that when I was saying that last year. But this offseason after obviously we had that heartbreaking loss in the NFC Championship Game, when I went home I was able to talk to my family and my close circle, specifically my son Nikko – he was the reason I was going to retire anyway. He lives out in Los Angeles with his mom and doesn’t live with me during the season, so I wanted to spend more time with him. He said, ‘Dad, you guys have a great team, I think you should go out there and try it one more time.’ After he said that with everything else that fell into place with the type of team that we’re going to have, with the coaching staff, with the fans out there in Atlanta, it was kind of a no-brainer after that.”

On if he has ever revisited the thought of retiring before the 2013 regular season since he made the announcement that he would return for one more year:

“No. Once I came out and said that I’m coming back, I’m the type of person that I’m full-go. Like I said, once I talked to my son and he said you should go out and try it one more time, that [he would be] OK with that, it’s kind of a no-brainer. Look at this football team that I get to be a part of next year, especially playing with a guy like Matt Ryan; Roddy White and Julio Jones on the outside, we got Steven Jackson as an offseason pick up. Osi Umenyiora on defense, [Sean] Weatherspoon – the list goes on and on, the amount of talent that we have on this team and the type of run that I think we can make, just like we did this last year. I’m looking forward to it and hopefully we can get the whole thing done this time.”

On if expects to participate in all aspects of training camp:

“That remains to be seen. I know I’ll be there first day, but I’m ready. I’m just as ready as I always am; I don’t know any different. During the offseason I’m always preparing, trying to be the best player that I can be and that’s my approach; that’s my mental approach going into this last season. Especially because it is my last season, I want to make sure that I’m out there putting a good product on that field helping this team be the best team that they can be.”

On if running back Steven Jackson is the piece needed to get past the NFC Championship Game:

“It certainly can’t hurt. Watching Steven Jackson for all of these last years out in St. Louis, he’s a beast; just give him the ball and he’s going to get yards. The type of attitude that he brings to this team is something that is going to help us a lot; it’s going to go a long way because the guys that we have in the locker room already are great. Obviously we’re led by Matt Ryan; with him pulling the trigger, with Roddy [White], Julio [Jones], myself, we’re going to try and soften up that defense a lot where they have to stand back and play off us a little bit, and that’s going to make big holes for a guy like Steven Jackson. We should hopefully go out there and be the perfect offense; that’s what we strive to be, the perfect type of offense where it’s pick your poison who you’re going to stop. With Steven Jackson back there in the backfield, it just makes us that much tougher to defend.”

On if the offensive line is the biggest question marking heading into training camp for the offense:

“Right there it’s obviously the biggest question mark. Everyone else is coming back and it’s a good one, it’s a good question. I think Peter Konz, our second-round draft choice last year out of Wisconsin, he’s going to fill in nicely at that center position. Our right tackle, Mike Johnson, he’s going into his fourth year and it’s time for him to step up; it’s time for him to go out there and claim that position for the next three or four years. If not, the competition is going to be open. But with our offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter, with coach [Mike Smith], with the way those guys scheme, they’re going to put us in a good position no matter what happens. Matt [Ryan] is going to have time to throw that ball and with those type of receivers that he’s working with, hopefully that ball is coming out pretty quickly because those guys get open. Even when they’re not open, you can just throw the ball up in the air and they’ll make plays.”

On if it will be a distraction if quarterback Matt Ryan does not sign a contract extension before the start of the season:

“I don’t think so. I spoke to Matt last week. I believe they’re talking; I don’t know how close they are but at least they’re talking. It’s going to get done. It doesn’t matter. If there is any question whether or not Matt Ryan is the quarterback of the Atlanta Falcons football team, that’s a silly question. He is the man out there and deservedly so. He’s the face of that franchise and they’re going to get something done sooner or later.”

On if the offseason moves made by the other teams in the NFC South have been made in response to the Falcons’ success:

“Division football is division football; you’re always trying to take over the best team from the season before. Obviously when the Saints were winning all of those games and they were doing pretty well the previous year, we were gunning for them. All of those teams in our division, they’re gunning for us this year and they’re trying to make sure that they match up against us when we play them this year. So they’re bringing in players like [Darrelle] Revis, bringing some people on defense obviously to stop our offense and we’re doing the same thing; we’re bringing in people on defense to stop their offense. It’s a competitive football league – I believe it’s the best league in football. Even if you look at a team like Carolina with Cam Newton, they beat us last year; we only lost three times and that’s one of the teams that beat us and they had somewhat of a poor record last year. But they still come out and play us tough every single time, so it’s important that we go out there and we approach it just like we have ever since I’ve been in Atlanta, the way [Mike Smith] prepares us and that’s going there giving it everything we got because we’re going to need it.”
AJC