NFC Notes: Buccaneers, Falcons, Panthers


Buccaneers third-round OL Robert Hainsey was exclusively a right tackle in college at Notre Dame, but most NFL evaluators projected him as a guard at the NFL level. Hainsey had never really worked at center until the Senior Bowl where he jumped in drills and looked like a natural fit. Tampa Bay hopes to develop him further in that area to give them options down the road. 

“His position flexibility is amazing,” Buccaneers HC Bruce Arians said via the Athletic’s Greg Auman. “He’s going to play five spots. Center is a totally different bird. You learn the whole offense when you learn center. Snapping the ball, especially when you start getting Vita (Vea) and guys like that on you, is a little different challenge. We’ll train him there. We know he can play tackle, know he can play guard. I don’t think there’s a position he can’t play.”


Falcons QB coach Charles London said QB Matt Ryan still has a lot of good football left to play.

“We studied every drop-back pass, every play-action pass, everything that Matt did this past year,” London said, via D. Orlando Ledbetter. “We thought as a staff that he was still performing at a high level. He could still do everything that was needed to do to run this offense. I look forward to working with him. He has a very unique skill-set.”

London also said Ryan has been open and honest about what he’s comfortable running and how he needs to improve.

“On this certain route with this certain coverage, this is why he’s throwing this or this is why his footwork is this way,” London said. “We’ve had a lot of good discussions, back-and-forth, about his playing career. What he does, what he thinks he’s good at and what he wants to work at. He’s been very good about, I’m not quite as good at this part, let’s focus on getting better here or let’s add this to the package.”

As for the rest of the QB room, London said new QB A.J. McCarron will bring experience to the team.

“A.J. is going on year number seven,” London said. “He’s been in the league for awhile. He didn’t have a lot of starts in the league, but he’s been in a lot of systems. He’s seen a lot.”

London is also excited to work with rookie QB Feleipe Franks.

“Feleipe has a really unique skill set,” London said. “He has a big arm. He’s a really athletic guy. He had traits that as an offensive staff we were excited about and we wanted to work with them. We were thrilled to get him in the undrafted process.”


The Panthers are one of the youngest teams in the NFL and they might be looking to get even younger across the board, even at long snapper. Carolina spent a sixth-round pick on LS Thomas Fletcher to compete with 35-year-old veteran J.J. Jansen, who has been the Panthers’ long snapper since 2009. Jansen has survived two regime changes in Carolina, though, and won’t be easy to unseat. 

“For a long snapper, you look at their accuracy, their time, their blocking, their anchor, their professionalism in meetings, their ability to learn — all those things. We do that for every kicker, every punter — their operation times, their misses,” Panthers HC Matt Rhule said via the Athletic’s Joe Person. “J.J.’s a stalwart around here. He’s been here a long time. He’s a really good player. He’s very, very, very consistent. So we know that he’s gonna have a great OTAs and camp. Thomas is a young guy with a lot of potential. He’s gonna have to get better at what he does, and they’ll compete it out.”

  • Rhule mentioned that while the Panthers drafted OT Brady Christensen in the third round with the hope he’d help at left tackle, they liked his versatility at every other position, potentially even center: “We thought he was a guy who could play tackle but also would be an elite guard. Whether he can snap or not and has the ability to make those calls, that’s what these camps are for. But we saw him as a guy that had four-position flexibility.”
  • The Athletic’s Zak Keefer notes the Colts are looking to host the Panthers for joint practices before their first preseason game. 

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