NFC Notes: Baker Mayfield, Michael Thomas, Bryce Young, Buccaneers, Panthers, Saints


It’s been a hot start to the 2023 season for Buccaneers QB Baker Mayfield, who has yet to turn the ball over and is completing nearly 70 percent of his passes. Buccaneers HC Todd Bowles says Mayfield has been exactly what they thought he could be as an experienced quarterback joining a roster filled with players who have had a lot of success before. 

“Yeah, exactly. He’s been through a lot in five years – he’s been through ups and downs. He knows it’s not about him, it’s about the team,” Bowles said via the team website. “He’s been very smart with the football, obviously, for the most part – he got away with one early but he’s been very good with the football. If you don’t turn it over, you give yourself a chance – that’s important. You have to take chances, but you can’t turn it over as well and he’s been doing a great job at that.”

Not a lot of people expected Tampa Bay to be 2-0 at this point in their first season without Tom Brady, but Bowles downplayed the idea that this team is overachieving. 

“Even when we had [Brady], it was a team full of winners, so it’s no different for us. We don’t feel any differently in the building,” he said. “We set our own expectations and that’s what we go by. I think the minute you start performing to other people’s expectations, you start letting yourself down and letting everybody else down. We have belief in this building, we have confidence in this building. We’ve had winners in this building the past few years – that has not changed. The people have changed but that has not changed. We’re continuing to do that.”


  • Regarding the possibility of the Panthers trading OLB Brian Burns, Albert Breer doesn’t think Carolina has much intention of trading Burns after being offered 2024 and 2025 first-round picks along with a third-round pick back in October of last year.
  • However, Breer could see the Panthers getting more trade offers if they continue to slide. 
  • The Panthers worked out CB Breon Borders and S Mathias Farley, per Aaron Wilson. Farley signed to the practice squad. 
  • Panthers HC Frank Reich told reporters that he isn’t ready to give up playcalling duties yet and remains confident in the potential of the offense. (Mike Kaye)
  • The Panthers announced first-round QB Bryce Young would have missed practice had it been a regular session. Wednesday was a walkthrough and Young was listed as an estimated DNP with an ankle injury. 
  • Reich said he’s not sure when Young got hurt or what his status for Week 3 against the Seahawks is. (Joe Person)


Saints WR Michael Thomas‘ injury issues the past few seasons have been well chronicled. And while it’s still a long season — Thomas played three games last year and looked good, perhaps even better than he has in the two games this year — the veteran’s start to the season is inspiring a lot of confidence. 

“Just his competitiveness, the way that he ran his routes, the way that he caught the ball,” Saints HC Dennis Allen said via the Athletic’s Katherine Terrell. “I thought he was a major factor in the game, his attitude on the sidelines … his positivity, it was awesome to see.”

“I’m here to help this offense. I get a rush from it,” Thomas added. “That’s what I’m here to do. Make the big plays, then go talk s— to [Allen] and get him turned up, so maybe he’ll call something crazy or better for the defense. I just like bringing a lot of energy and letting these guys know, as long as we move the ball down this field, we’re always in this game.”

In addition to Thomas, New Orleans is in great position with budding star WR Chris Olave and speedy WR Rashid Shaheed, each of whom had receptions over 40 yards that were pivotal in a Monday night win against the Panthers. 

“We know our defense is going to hold it down,” Olave said. “… We’ve just got to stay patient, stay patient and wait for the ball to come. When your number is called, you have to make that play. Somebody had to make that play, and I’m glad they threw it to me.”

  • Saints third-round RB Kendre Miller is expected to make his debut in Week 3 against the Packers. (Jordan Schultz)

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