NFC Notes: Buccaneers, Falcons, Panthers, Saints


Buccaneers QB Tom Brady said it took him a while to get into football shape after having knee surgery this year.

“It was sixth months today [Aug. 24] that I had knee surgery,” Brady said, via “You know, it was a tough offseason in terms of the rehab. … But I feel like I’m really just now kind of feeling — not from a rehab standpoint but from a football standpoint — like you know my legs are feeling bouncy and ready to go. My arm’s feeling live. I think that’s the hard thing.”


Falcons HC Arthur Smith explained the team’s decision to cut undrafted rookie RB Javian Hawkins, who by all accounts had been having a solid training camp and was a sleeper pick to make a shallow roster at tailback in Atlanta. The Falcons still have six backs on the roster after cutting Hawkins. 

“Too many, and this isn’t like a knock on Javian,” Smith said via D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “It’s just the way the rules are, and when we had to make moves after every (exhibition) season game a couple years ago. It was different you carried 90 all the way through the fourth (exhibition) season (game), so you’ve got to make moves.”


Panthers HC Matt Rhule isn’t ready to name a starter between veteran LS J.J. Jansen and rookie LS Thomas Fletcher.

J.J. has been doing it for a long time. I think he’s had a renewed sense of everything this year. Fletch obviously has a lot of talent, just getting used to having to block at this level,” Rhule said via the Athletic’s Joe Person.

  • Carolina changed TE Giovanni Ricci‘s number from 87 to 40, which Rhule says is an indicator he’ll get some looks at fullback: “I did that just to change the way the offensive staff looks at him. You talk about a guy that’s playing well on special teams. If you’re playing well on special teams, you have to find a role for guys. We really like our tight end room. We’ve been searching for a fullback. We’ll continue to look for other guys. But Gio has a chance to help us.” (Person)
  • Rhule indicated that while LB Jermaine Carter is the starter at middle linebacker, they still have a role in mind for LB Denzel Perryman: “I think Jermaine Carter’s one of our unsung — one of our best defensive players all around. I think he’s an outstanding player who also does everything right. That’s no shot at (Perryman). We have all these different packages. … We want to have multiple starters. I think we have a good plan for Denzel when he gets healthy.”
  • Shortly after those comments, the Panthers traded Perryman to the Raiders in a late-round pick swap. 
  • Panthers WR Robby Anderson says the deal he signed with Carolina last year, which was two years, $20 million with no guarantees in year two, was a de facto one-year deal: “The agreement … was, ‘If he does what he has to do, we’ll get back to the table. If not, pretty much release him.’ Pretty much last year was a one-year deal. That’s why we’re in the situation we’re in now [with the new extension].”
  • Panthers GM Scott Fitterer says the idea with Anderson’s extension is to stagger big contracts at wide receiver. Panthers WR D.J. Moore is next up for a big deal with his fifth-year option in 2022 and second-round WR Terrace Marshall will be eligible for a new deal after the 2023 season if he continues to develop: “We just wanted to lock [Robby] down for a few more years and keep the continuity with the receivers and our skill position. And this is one way of doing it — being ahead of it.”


Saints LB coach Michael Hodges believes their linebackers group has shown good intensity during practice without being overly aggressive on teammates. 

“There’s that line that you can’t cross, so that’s real, learning how to practice at that intensity without taking out a guy,” Hodges said, via Katherine Terrell of The Athletic. “It’s all within reason but I think the juice that anybody brings, and I feel like our linebacker group in general has had a really good energy, and I think that’s contagious. And if it’s genuine it really bleeds into a lot of different parts of our game.”

Hodges said Saints DC Dennis Allen puts a “huge emphasis” on creating takeaways for their system. 

“Within our room, that’s just piggybacking on the message from (Allen),” Hodges said. “We make a huge emphasis, and it’s not turnovers, it’s takeaways, and there’s an intentional effort to get the ball out. And to be honest, during a period, I’m reminding them more of that than scheme because the scheme part, that gets in their head a little bit, the ball part, that’s about hustle that’s about effort, that’s about being intentional at the end of the play.”

Allen said LB Andrew Dowell is proving to be in “great condition” throughout training camp and showing high effort this preseason as he pushes for a roster spot. 

“He’s in great condition,” Allen said. “He can go all day. That’s one of the things we preach. For us to be able to have success, the effort has to be there. If you don’t have the effort and the competitiveness, you have no chance. And then it gets down to execution. But I think he’s having a great camp.”

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