NFC Notes: Buccaneers, Falcons, Panthers, Saints


  • NBC Sports’ Peter King says Buccaneers TE O.J. Howard is not available for trade barring a ridiculous offer. 
  • King adds he wouldn’t be surprised if Howard plays the most snaps out of the Buccaneers’ tight end group ahead of Rob Gronkowski and Cameron Brate.
  • Buccaneers HC Bruce Arians said Gronkowski and QB Tom Brady have had a positive impact on Howard so far: “When you’ve got a guy like Gronkowski and Brady telling you you’re good, you’re probably pretty good. I think that’s helped. He’s playing really, really well right now.” (Greg Auman)
  • Arians added second-round S Antoine Winfield Jr. “will be competing for a starting job quickly.” (Rick Stroud)
  • Buccaneers first-round OT Tristan Wirfs started on the right side for Tampa Bay Monday when the team practiced in pads for the first time, but Arians said the rookie needs to work on lowering his pad level. (Stroud)
  • Arians noted Buccaneers S Justin Evans is still on the PUP list and he’s not sure when he’ll come off it: “You’d have to talk to Jesus. I have no clue.” (Jenna Laine)
  • Arians mentioned special teams would be a key factor for the last few players on the final roster: “Those final cuts are all going to be done on special teams.” (Auman)



  • Per Myles Simmons of the team website, Panthers LT Russell Okung said “no conversations like that have been had” about potentially retiring if the pandemic worsens and the NFL work environment deteriorates. 
  • Okung deferred questions about his future with the team to the front office. He’s in the final year of his contract. (Joe Person)
  • Panthers HC Matt Rhule says they want to find a role for DE Efe Obada at both defensive end and defensive tackle: “He’s the kind of guy that helps you have a good defense.” (Simmons)
  • Rhule also says the Panthers feel good about former Colts second-round S T.J. Green, who they’re moving back to corner: “We remembered him as a player in college. Some people tried to turn him into a safety. ….He has all the talent in the world.” (David Newton)
  • Panthers TE Ian Thomas said they’re still trying to figure out what his role on the offense will be under new OC Joe Brady: “We’re still trying to figure out our style of play and how we’re going to use the tight end, if we’re going to use the tight end.” (Newton)
  • Panthers 2019 third-round QB Will Grier has been more poised and accurate his second season and appears to have an early lead over former XFL QB P.J. Walker for the No. 2 job. (Newton)


  • Per the Athletic’s Katherine Terrell, Saints UDFA WR Juwan Johnson looks more like a tight end and is built like teammate Jared Cook
  • Saints HC Sean Payton said Johnson is doing well enough to stick at receiver for now but if he struggles they will consider moving him to tight end. 
  • Saints first-round OL Cesar Ruiz started at right guard while Erik McCoy remained at center, though the two are expected to rotate later on during camp to find the best combination. (Terrell)
  • Payton also noted QB Jameis Winston has integrated well with the team so far: “I’ve been pleased. He’s in great shape, he’s got a real live arm, man, I love his attitude, his work ethic. He’s doing very well.”

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