NFC Notes: Buccaneers, Falcons, Panthers, Saints


A number of NFL teams still need help at running back ahead of Tuesday’s trade deadline. But Buccaneers RB Ronald Jones isn’t on the block, HC Bruce Arians reiterated on Monday, unless someone blows Tampa Bay away with an offer. 

“It would have to be something really, really special. Because I love the way he’s running,” Arians said via ESPN’s Jenna Laine. “It’s just one nick on Leonard and then Rojo’s the guy. And so to me, it’s still a great one-two punch. It would have to be extraordinary.”

  • Arians admitted he probably shouldn’t have played TE Rob Gronkowski: “Gronk probably shouldn’t have played either … But he kept begging to get in there. Then he re-injured himself.” (Pewter Report)


Falcons HC Arthur Smith admitted after the game on Sunday that losing WR Calvin Ridley that day did have some impact on their game plan. It definitely meant the Panthers had fewer weapons to worry about and could focus on stopping first-round TE Kyle Pitts. Atlanta will be without Ridley for an undetermined amount of time, so QB Matt Ryan says the team will have no choice but to adjust. 

“He’s a great player, and you try to utilize other guys when he’s not up,” Ryan said via ESPN’s Michael Rothstein. “We still have enough players. We trust the guys that are up on game day to go make plays, and unfortunately, we just fell a little bit short [Sunday].”


Sunday’s 19-13 win snapped a four-game losing streak for the Panthers and was an illustration of what HC Matt Rhule wants the team’s identity to be. The Panthers piled up 46 carries in the win and 203 rushing yards. 

“I think I’ve known this is what I want us to look like. I know it’s not always going to be 46 runs, but I want it to be in the 30s,” Rhule said via the Athletic’s Joe Person. “And I think what it did for our defense today was, even when it was four or five, six plays, even if it’s a field goal, they have a chance to regroup. And we can play to our strengths.”

  • Rhule said the entire team believes in QB P.J. Walker if he has to start: “I don’t think there’s a guy in the locker room that doesn’t believe in him.” (Joe Person)
  • Rhule wouldn’t say whether the team offered RB Christian McCaffrey for QB Deshaun Watson or discuss his reported Friday conversation with McCaffrey. (Person)
  • Rhule plans on McCaffrey practicing this week: “Hopefully we can get Christian back soon. If it’s not this week, hopefully it will be next week.” (Person)
  • Rhule added the team has to understand that it is built around its defense. (David Newton)
  • Rhule wouldn’t say if the team would sign QB Cam Newton if QB Sam Darnold had to miss games with a concussion: “I’ll see what happens to Sam today. Worry about him first.” (Newton)


Former Saints QB Drew Brees said he is not coming out of retirement after QB Jameis Winston‘s injury, but he believes in QB Trevor Siemian.

“I think he’s going to do well,” Brees said, via “That’s exactly why he brought him in last year when I got hurt. He’s a cerebral guy who can pick up the system quickly. He can execute it. The bottom line is he has two really good running backs and a great defense. He’ll play within the system and I think Sean Payton has a lot of confidence in him.”

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