NFC Notes: Buccaneers, Falcons, Panthers, Saints, Michael Thomas


  • The Athletic’s Greg Auman notes second-round OL Luke Goedeke got reps at first-team left guard on Thursday for the first time. Aaron Stinnie, meanwhile, practiced as the second-team left guard. 
  • Bucs DB Keanu Neal suffered an injury during joint practices with the Titans and will be sidelined for the remainder of the preseason. Tampa Bay hopes to have him for Week 1 against Dallas. (Rick Stroud)


  • ESPN’s Michael Rothstein reports Falcons DL Marlon Davidson underwent a knee scope on Thursday and will miss the remainder of the preseason.
  • He adds this is not good for Davidson’s chances of making the roster, as the former second-round pick wasn’t viewed as a lock entering camp and hasn’t distinguished himself. 
  • The Falcons worked out WR Emeka Emezie. The team also signed WR KeeSean Johnson. (Aaron Wilson)


Panthers HC Matt Rhule didn’t want to just hand first-round OT Ikem Ekwonu the starting left tackle job, which is why Ekwonu worked behind OL Brady Christensen for the bulk of training camp. The rookie apparently showed enough in the preseason opener against Washington to convince Rhule to name him the starter going forward, however. 

“We wanted Ickey to play and put it on tape in a game before we put him with the ones,” Rhule said via the Athletic’s Joe Person. “We wanted him to go in a game and play and earn (it) with his play. So he played well in the game.”

Rhule added the team has a plan for their ongoing quarterback competition and said the process of declaring a starter is ongoing and thorough, even though all signs point to Baker Mayfield getting the nod over Sam Darnold at this point.

I think the thing I’ve said all along is, ya know, I wanted to at least get to this point — when we know, we know,” Rhule said, via Panthers Wire. “It could be at any point. It could be two more weeks from now, it could be now. I know that’s not the answer you guys want and I’m not saying it’s two weeks from now. I’m just saying we’re just making sure we’re thorough. Coming off the field like this, we’ll make sure you always watch the tape and see where we are. We have a really good plan. We’re not winging it. We have a really good plan. And I just sometimes don’t feel at liberty to share it out of respect for the guys.”


Saints WR Michael Thomas still feels like he’s getting back to full speed after his ankle injury.

“I definitely say personally still getting there,” said Thomas, via John Deshazier of the team’s official site. “But always try to play like nothing happened and put it behind you, and just put your foot in the ground and go hard, Point A to Point B. Try to always just play hard, play with a lot of effort, play to the whistle so that none of those things show up.”

Saints HC Dennis Allen thinks that Thomas will be “ready to go” for Week 1 but that he is practicing at a high level in training camp. 

“When the ball kicks off for real, Mike Thomas is going to be ready to go,” Allen said. “And I’m excited about that. I think he looks great. I thought he looked a little better today than (Tuesday). When I watch Michael Thomas out at practice, I see Michael Thomas that I saw pre-injury. I see a big, strong, physical wide receiver that makes a ton of contested catches. I saw it in these practices. I kind of see a guy that looks pretty good.”

Thomas added that Allen and the Saints’ staff are bringing him along slowly as they ramp up for Week 1. 

“The program that the team has me on has really allowed me to start slowly, transitioning and getting back to my old self and getting a flow for the game,” Thomas said. “Being out here in these joint practices allows me to compete against another guy, work on some technique and get back to the real thing. I trust Dennis, I trust his plan that he has for me. I’m here to take coaching and find out the things that I can improve on from here until Week 1, and maximize the opportunity of improving those and becoming a better player before we get to Week 1. Every day is another day to come out here and compete, fine tune our craft and meet Coach at that point. He’s expecting me to be ready Week 1, so I have to be ready Week 1.”

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