NFC Notes: Buccaneers, Falcons, Panthers


  • Buccaneers HC Bruce Arians said they anticipate an announcement regarding WR Antonio Brown and S Mike Edwards to return from suspension ahead of Week 15: “It’s just a matter of making a statement. Whether I do it before this game or after, we’ll wait and see, but I don’t want anything to be distracting from this game.” (Joey Knight)


Falcons QB Matt Ryan called their Week 15 game against the 49ers “very significant” in order to remain “relevant” in the NFC South. 

“It’s very significant. For us as a team, they’re all going to be this way moving forward if we handle our business. We understand the position we’re in, but we also know, you can’t control the next three games. It’s really just about taking care of business this week. Extending our opportunity to be relevant. I’m excited about that. It’s fun to be this time of the year, to be in games that matter and games that have consequences, and I’m excited for that opportunity,” said Ryan, via D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal Constitution. 

Ryan believes that their rushing offense has been productive over the last two weeks after they’ve continued to “hammer away” at figuring out the run. 

“You talk about the run game, I think it’s been productive for us the last couple of weeks. It’s something that we’ve continued to hammer away at all season and chip away at it in practice and certainly done a nice job upfront and in the backfield getting that run game going for us. It’s certainly going to be another point of emphasis again, this week. We’re going against a defense that’s strong and physical. Good linebackers, good front four and they’re aggressive. It’s going to be a great challenge for us.”

As for COVID-19 outbreaks currently spreading throughout the league, Ryan said that Atlanta is conducting “business as usual” and praised their coaching staff for keeping things in order. 

“I mean, other than some COVID protocols, it’s business as usual. I think the one thing that, having done it for the last two years, you learn to be flexible. We have certain setups to handle when this kind of stuff happens. You have to make the best of it. I think Art’s [Arthur Smith] done a good job of spacing things out doing some stuff virtually and I think the guys have done a good job of locking in when you need to lock in.”


Regarding the Panthers’ Week 15 game against the Bills, CB Stephon Gilmore thinks that there are some similar qualities between Cam Newton and Buffalo’s quarterback Josh Allen

“I see some similarities, but they have their different ways,” Gilmore said, via Joseph Person of The Athletic. “They both have great size. They both have strong arms. They can throw the ball as far as anybody, and they both can extend plays.”

Newton praised Allen’s ability as a passer and physicality as a runner. 

“He is his own player. Very talented throwing the football, as well as running the football. Very physical. And he just does a great job of making plays,” Newton said. “But fortunately for me, I’m not gonna be facing him. I’ve got my hands full (with the Buffalo defense).”

As for the possibility of the Panthers splitting snaps between Newton and QB P.J. Walker in Sunday’s game, Panthers QB Matt Rhule responded that it’s a less than ideal situation but they must find ways to “maximize” their offense. 

“Certainly I don’t want to be playing two quarterbacks. No one does,” Rhule said. “But it’s the situation that we’re in, and we’re trying to maximize where we’re at right now.”

Newton added that he trusts whatever Rhule and OC Jeff Nixon have planned for Week 15. 

“I do what I’m told,” Newton said. “I know that sounds kind of — it’s true. I’m a player and I gain guidance in what the coaches’ plan is. I trust in the coaches’ plan, whether it’s coming from up top with Matt or even with (offensive coordinator Jeff) Nixon.”

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