NFC Notes: Buccaneers, Falcons, Panthers, Saints


  • Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer mentions QB Tom Brady is continuing to instill confidence in his younger players including TE O.J. Howard and WR Scotty Miller.
  • Breer adds second-round S Antoine Winfield Jr. has been a star during camp and the team is high on him as a moveable chess piece in their secondary. 
  • While the offensive line has been solid, with the right side of G Alex Cappa and first-round OT Tristan Wirfs coming along strong recently, Breer notes depth is a question mark for Tampa Bay. 
  • The Buccaneers coaching staff has been impressed by DL Rakeem Nunez-Roches who has reshaped his body and bringing a lot of energy as a rotational defensive lineman. (James Palmer)
  • Buccaneers S Mike Edwards returned to practice after dealing with an eye infection, while fifth-round WR Tyler Johnson is still out with a soft tissue injury. (Jenna Laine)


Falcons OC Dirk Koetter said the goal for RB Todd Gurley is to get him between 15-25 touches per game depending on the circumstances. 

“I think a minimum of 15 touches and a high of [25],” Koetter told Vaughn McClure of ESPN Tuesday. “But you’ve got to realize we’ve got a lot of guys that need touches. You’re going to have 64 plays in a game on average on offense. Depending on where you’re at in the season and wear and tear, I think the low is 15 and maybe the high end 25.

“Some of that depends on score and where you’re at in the game. Are you ahead and running it? Are you getting in four-minute, and how are you running the ball that week? There’s a lot of factors in there. But again, the low end 15 and the high end 25.”


Panthers LB Shaq Thompson is at the stage in his career where he must assume the leadership of the defense, following the retirement of LB Luke Kuechly in Carolina, but says he will play like himself and not try and be who Kuechly was for the team.

“There are people behind me who want my spot, and I need to go out there and earn a spot,” Thompson said, via Myles Simmons of “Nothing is set in stone. Luke wasn’t a rah-rah guy, but when he needed to speak up, his presence was felt. That’s kind of how I’ve followed in the same way behind him. I’m not (Thomas Davis), I’m not Luke — I’m Shaq. So he told me to go out there and be Shaq. Play like Shaq. So that’s what I’m going to do — I’m going to go play like Shaq.”

Thompson is also doing his best in attempting to prepare the Panthers’ rookies for what is to come not just this season but in their NFL careers.

“Just going off the experience, I’ve told them things are going to happen fast. Just the nature of the game, how the transition happens from college to the NFL, it just happens fast,” Thompson said. “But as long as you know the game and understand your technique and what you’re supposed to do, your assignments and stuff like that, then it’ll start slowing down. These guys are smart. All these rookies, they’re doing a great job just buying in and listening to the vets. They’re going to be tremendous out there come Week 1.”

  • Panthers HC Matt Rhule says second-round S Jeremy Chinn will play a lot and probably would be a starter if the team had to play right now: “He plays really hard and he plays really physical and is extremely coachable.” (Simmons)
  • Panthers S Juston Burris has also been impressed by Chinn and fourth-round CB Troy Pride: “The moment is not too big for them. I wouldn’t think they are rookies by the way they interact. They’re really mature where you think a rookie would be at t his time.” (David Newton)
  • Panthers LB Tahir Whitehead (rest) and OLB Marquis Haynes (concussion) missed practice Tuesday. (Joe Person)
  • Panthers tried out DBs DeMarkus Acy, Jameson Houston, and Austin Larkin. (Albert Breer)


  • Katherine Terrell of The Athletic notes that by quickly cutting ties with veteran LB Nigel Bradham, the Saints obviously like what they see in rookie LB Zack Baun out of Wisconsin. Baun has been taking reps at strongside linebacker and also rushing the passer in the nickel package, according to Terrell.
  • Terrell says she gets the sense that Erik McCoy will likely start at center, meaning rookie Cesar Ruiz will play guard this year and could make the switch to center next year, depending on whether the Saints think he can handle the position.
  • Terrell adds that while the offense has the ability to be great once again in 2020, backup quarterbacks Jameis Winston and Taysom Hill need to continue to develop in case QB Drew Brees suffers another injury.

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