Falcons' Smith eager to put aside hospital stay, work on Jags

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. -- Atlanta Falcons coach Mike Smith was back at practice Monday night and planning to return "first thing in the morning," one day after being checked at a Charlotte hospital.

"I feel a whole lot better today than I did yesterday, I can assure you of that," a smiling Smith said after the practice, which lasted about 40 minutes.

Smith was examined for a "non-emergency matter" after the Falcons' 31-23 victory over the Carolina Panthers on Sunday.

Smith, 52, offered few details of his hospital stay Monday.

"I'm really embarrassed to have to even be talking about it," Smith said. "I don't want to talk about it. I'd prefer to talk about the way our guys played in the second half, and we've got a short week and we've got to get ready for Jacksonville."

The Falcons (8-5) have just three days to prepare for Thursday night's home game against the Jaguars.

Because of the short week, the team planned Monday night's unusual light practice before Smith's medical scare.

Smith said he was committed to keeping the schedule as planned. His only concession was he planned to leave the facility earlier than planned Monday night.

He said he planned no changes to his coaching routine.

"No, not at all," he said with a laugh. "I'm going to have to evaluate some of the things I do, not in coaching this team, but in terms of how we coach this team, we're going to keep doing it the way we've always done it simply because it's the only way I know how to do it."

Added Smith: "No shorter hours. Maybe this week just a little bit. Get out of here tonight. It was a long night last night, so probably get out of here early tonight and back here ready to go first thing in the morning."

Smith returned to Atlanta about 3:30 a.m. Monday on Falcons owner Arthur Blank's private jet.

Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press

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