NFC Notes: Buccaneers, Falcons, Panthers, Saints

     

Buccaneers

  • James Palmer of NFL Network points out that Buccaneers’ second-round S Antoine Winfield has done exceptionally well during practice and is learning the safety and nickel corner roles. 
  • Palmer mentions that the Buccaneers intend on starting RB Ronald Jones with LeSean McCoy and Leonard Fournette as his backups. 
  • Palmer adds that the running back who proves the best as a pass protector will likely wind up getting increased playing time. 
  • NFL Media’s Ian Rapoport reports Buccaneers WR Mike Evans has told people close to him he doesn’t expect his hamstring injury to keep him out of Sunday’s game against the Saints. 
  • Buccaneers OC Byron Leftwich said QB Josh Rosen is coming in with a clean slate: “We have a history. His past doesn’t really matter at this point … Somebody we’ll try to develop. I know him. He’s coming in, putting his hand in the pile. He’s doing to help us.” (Greg Auman)
  • Rosen said he signed with the Buccaneers because “I just wanted to get better,” and he thought Tampa Bay was “a place where I could become a better football player.”(Auman)
  • While acknowledging “never say never,” Rosen pointed out four teams in three years would be brutal and even if a team offered him a spot on their active roster he might turn it down: “My plan is to stay here.” (Jenna Laine)
  • Rosen elaborated more on how his chance to start last year with the Dolphins went wrong and what he learned from it: “It sucked at first, but I think for me the turning point was getting benched after three games. That was a big look-in-the-mirror sort of situation. I kind of was like, you’re literally playing behind probably one of the smartest quarterbacks ever do it and you’re not really absorbing information like you should.” (Grace Remington)

Falcons

Falcons WR Julio Jones is widely regarded as one of the best receivers in the NFL and certainly one of the most physically talented to ever play the position. But Jones has an Achilles heel: he doesn’t score as many touchdowns as some of his peers. He’s tied for 96th in career receiving scores with just 57 in nine seasons. Fantasy football players are certainly aware of his and it turns out so are the Falcons. Atlanta OC Dirk Koetter said it’s a point of emphasis for them but it’s hard because opponents pay so much attention to Jones in the red zone. 

“I really think for Julio to get more touchdowns, it has to come on either deep throws — deeper throws where you take your shots whether it be go balls or deep posts — or it has to be stuff like slants and intermediate routes where Julio breaks or spins out of a tackle,” Koetter said via ESPN’s Vaughn McClure. “Or like the Philly game: a screen where he catches it, gets a great block from Jake [Matthews], and he runs for [54] yards. I think he’s going to have to run some in.”

Panthers

Saints

There’s no guarantee 2020 is Saints QB Drew Brees‘ final season. But there are a lot of indications it could be as the team has been going all-in the past few years. The 41-year-old Brees is taking the same approach.  

“Hey, at this time, man, I’m on borrowed time,” Brees said via ESPN’s Mike Triplett. “I’ve got nothing to lose. So I’m turning it loose and letting the chips fall where they may.”

The Saints have had one of the best teams in the NFL the past three seasons but have suffered heartbreaking losses in the playoffs before reaching the Super Bowl, from the Minneapolis Miracle to the missed pass interference call against the Rams to another shocking upset at the hands of the Vikings last year. Brees won’t be dwelling on the past this season, though.

“I know that everything happens for a reason, and in most cases, failure is your best teacher,” Brees said. “That’s the approach I’ve always taken, and that’s the approach this team has taken. And I feel like we’ve found a way to garner strength from each one of these moments over these last few years. And it’s only made us better.”

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