NFC Notes: Buccaneers, Falcons, Panthers, Saints

     

Buccaneers

Buccaneers coach Bruce Arians said Wednesday that he isn’t sure why anyone is criticizing QB Tom Brady. 

“I don’t know why anyone’s criticizing Tom,” Arians said, via Pro Football Talk. “What he did at the end of the half and to start the second half [against] Minnesota — very, very few teams can score 17 points in a matter of five or six minutes. If we finished the half with 17 points, I don’t [care] how we start. He’s not getting enough credit for what he’s doing.

“Offensively, I think Tom [Brady] has had a Pro Bowl year,” Arians added,

  • Per Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times, Buccaneers Brady said he has a good relationship with Arians: “It’s very open, honest dialogue about how I can be most effective and any questions we have…”

Falcons

Falcons QB Matt Ryan said he’s not focusing on the three interceptions he threw in Week 14’s loss to the Chargers. 

“I’m on to Tampa this week and the new list of challenges that this week presents,” Ryan said, via D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “For me, that’s always been the best way to get past things. To get started on whatever is next.”

Falcons’ interim HC Raheem Morris explained that their offensive line must do a better job of protecting Ryan in games. 

When you’re talking about protecting Matt, which we talked about early,” Morris said. “We have to get him protected. You must get (him time) to get the ball out of his hands, get him to do a couple of different things with the cadence. … You’ve got to protect your quarterback at all (times).”

  • Albert Breer of Sports Illustrated writes that the Falcons’ next general manager will likely have a “significant say” in Atlanta’s head coaching decision, while team president Rich McKay‘s input could be good for Morris possibly being retained. 
  • Breer expects Morris to receive interest from other NFL teams about head coaching vacancies within the next two years.

Panthers

  • Panthers OT Greg Little suffered a high ankle sprain and a knee sprain in Wednesday’s practice, which led to him being placed on injured reserve. (Joe Person)

Saints

  • According to NFL Media’s Ian Rapoport, Saints QB Drew Brees practiced for the first time on Wednesday since sustaining broken ribs and a punctured lung. 
  • Saints HC Sean Payton insisted that they will not rush Brees back into the starting lineup and Brees must exhibit a “full range of motion” before playing again. 
  • Rapoport points out that that Brees reportedly “threw the ball well” in Wednesday’s practice. 
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