NFC Notes: Buccaneers, Falcons, Panthers, Saints


In New England, Buccaneers QB Tom Brady was infamously hard on young receivers. In Tampa Bay, however, that hasn’t been the case as much, with Brady taking a prominent mentoring role with a number of the team’s young wideouts, especially fourth-round WR Jaelon Darden.

“The first time I met him after the draft, I was star-struck,” Darden said via NBC Sports’ Peter King. “He said, ‘Hey Jaelon. Happy to have you on the team. I studied your film.’ What an honor. Then he took time to teach me how to win against coverages. Like, ‘When the corner plays you here, I’m gonna have the ball at this exact spot.’ Every day, I put my hard hat on and work and learn.”

Brady acknowledged he asks a lot from his receivers and that it’s hard work that can’t be accomplished with anything less than lots of time and practice. 

“It’s really hard for a rookie receiver in the NFL,” Brady said. “Everything is new. You have a play, then I change the play, then I look at you and I change the route, then I see a defense that we didn’t necessarily talk about. Every play I’m like, hey this is what I’m thinking. And you gotta have someone who can take the critique.

“No one can fix it except the quarterback and receiver. Doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks. I’m throwing the ball. You’re catching it. We gotta literally have a bond, a connection between us. You gotta think what I’m thinking all the time. The more you talk and the more you do it, the better it is. The longer I play with guys, the better it is. The shorter you play together, you can’t cover everything in five weeks of training camp. Or in two years together. Five years together? Maybe. Seven years together, okay, that’s pretty good. You play seven years together with a receiver, you can make a lot of magic happen. But after a year or two, there’s still things. There’s so many variables that you gotta get right. We’re playing a chess game.”


Panthers RB Christian McCaffrey dealt with a variety of injuries in 2020 after playing nearly all of the snaps and taking a heavy load of touches the two years before. Still, the versatile running back says he’s not worried about self-preservation when he’s on the field. 

“I think just make people miss and try not to get tackled, that’s probably the best way you can limit hits,” McCaffrey said via the Athletic’s Joe Person. “It’s a part of football. I think it’s the best position on the field. You’ve always gotta stay physically prepared, mentally prepared, emotionally prepared. If you kinda check those boxes every day and fall in love with your routine throughout the week and just make it consistent, some of that stuff you (can) just be proactive with it.”

  • ESPN’s David Newton reports WR Robby Anderson‘s extension added $4.5 million to his salary this year. He will now make $12.5 million in 2021, $13 million in 2022 and $12 million in 2023. 
  • Panthers HC Matt Rhule said Jermaine Carter will be the starter at middle linebacker, ahead of free-agent acquisition LB Denzel Perryman. (Person)


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