NFC South Notes: Buccaneers, Falcons, Panthers

Buccaneers

Buccaneers QB Ryan Fitzpatrick admitted he’s disappointed to be benched in favor of Jameis Winston, but he understood the situation he was entering into when he agreed to a new deal with Tampa Bay.

It’s not necessarily something I wanted to hear, just in terms of getting that taste back, that feeling of being out there and having fun, enjoying myself, kind of creating some momentum at the beginning of the season with the guys,” Fitzpatrick said, via ESPN.com. “But Jameis is back and he’s the guy. He’s the face of the franchise. He’s gonna do a great job. But it’s not like it’s a happy day for me. I enjoy being out there.

Fitzpatrick told his father that based on how things had gone this season he was “either gonna win the NFL MVP this year or I’ll be back at the bench at some point.”

“What I said to my dad after how Week 1 went, and Week 2 and Week 3, was basically… ‘I’m either gonna win the NFL MVP this year or I’ll be back at the bench at some point.’ That’s just the reality of the situation,” Fitzpatrick said. “I wish I could still be out there but that’s the way that it goes and I’ll accept my role.

Falcons

Falcons owner Arthur Blank admitted that he’s “concerned” about the team’s 1-3 start to the season, but he understands that they’ve been hampered by injuries.

Well, I am concerned about a 1-3 start,” Blank said, via Vaughn McClure of ESPN.com. “I don’t know anyone who would say that’s where we had planned on being or that’s where we had hoped to be, but we are 1-3.

“This is not excuses, but reality is reality. We’ve had some very difficult injuries to really good players. All three of the players, people talk in baseball when the middle has to be good: your catch, your pitcher, your second baseman, and then the center fielder. So when you lose Allen and Neal and Deion Jones, those are kind of the middle of that defense. So that hurts.

“And all three of those guys are really good communicators. They not only play at a very high level in their own right, but they get everybody else in the right positions. They make everybody else better. . . . We have plenty of talent on defense to play well. It’s trying to put people in the positions where they can maximize their strengths and not expose any lack of experience that they may have. And that’s what the coaches are in the process of doing.”

Panthers

Panthers HC Ron Rivera says he’s excited to see what newly signed S Eric Reid can bring to their defense.

“His movement skills were there,” Rivera said, via Jourdan Rodrigue of the Charlotte Observer. “He was covering tight ends. He was running with wide receivers. He gives you an opportunity to have what looks like a safety, but can play in the post. He can play the deep half, or he can play up in the box. With his ability to play in the box, and his skill set to run, you can play him as a big nickel. So it gives us position flexibility with him. He can play strong [safety] or free [safety] as well.

“Once he learns and understands the feel, I think you get another field general back there with he and Mike [Adams]. I think those two guys will be a pretty formidable group.”

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