NFC Notes: Buccaneers, Falcons, Panthers, Saints, Trevor Penning


Buccaneers TE Cameron Brate spoke about the departure of recently retired TE Rob Gronkowski and how he was able to learn from the veteran tight end. 

“He doesn’t always do a good job of explaining how he sees the game and stuff,” Brate said, via ProFootball Talk. “But I mean, he’s probably the best tight end to ever play. So, just seeing the way he went about his business every day, the kind of unique way he sees the game, definitely benefited me a ton.”

Brate continued that they will “definitely miss” Gronkowski this season but will try to assume his leadership role with their younger players. 

“Obviously, I’m not the same player as Rob — people just bounce off of Rob. When I get hit, I get hit hard — it’s not the same for me. But, just being around him, trying to soak up as much as I could from his game, it was awesome, and we’ll definitely miss him this year. But I’ll try to teach some of these young guys some of the stuff I’ve picked up from him.”

Brate expects to have more playing time in early downs next season and is excited to gain a better rhythm in games. 

“[Gronkowski’s] in there 90% of the time, so for me, I think that’s a little bit harder of a role — when you’re not playing all the time and you’re kind of just thrown out there on third down and got to beat man coverage and stuff,” Brate said. “After having that experience, now where I’ll probably be used more a little bit on early downs, I love that – kind of get into the rhythm of the game. [I’m] excited for that challenge and looking forward to it.”


Falcons RB/WR Cordarrelle Patterson is on a careful load management program so far in training camp, as Atlanta wants to ensure they don’t overload him for the regular season. Patterson admits it’s unusual but he’s alright with it, as long as it doesn’t continue too much into the regular season. 

“Me and Coach, we talk about it a lot, so we’ll see,” he said via the Athletic’s Josh Kendall. “I just want the ball. Just get me the ball — that’s all you have to do. I’ll do the rest. You know me. I’ll play any position. It’s not hard, man.”

  • Falcons RB Damien Williams is taking a number of first-team reps so far early in camp as Atlanta takes it easy with Patterson. 


Panthers HC Matt Rhule said that they activated CB Jaycee Horn from the PUP list once the soreness in his surgically repaired foot subsided. 

“He just has a little bit of soreness, not even in the bone, just in kind of his overall foot. So once the soreness went down, the doctors felt like we can begin to ramp him up,” Rhule said, via Ellis S. Williams of the Charlotte Observer. “So we took them off PUP and let him do some individual (drills). “It’ll be a day-by-day process until he’s full go.”

Rhule said first-round OT Ikem Ekonwu must compete for the starting left tackle job against second-year OT Brady Christensen is with the ones.

I don’t think we’re bringing Ikey along slowly. As a rookie, you get opportunities, but you have to earn what you get. You have to fight and battle,” Rhule said. “He certainly wants to be a starter. If he’s going to, he has to battle. Brady’s going to have to battle. And we’re just taking a very long approach here. We don’t need to make these decisions this week.”

  • Panthers WR Robbie Anderson said that he recently spoke to free-agent QB Cam Newton and thinks the quarterback could be in an NFL training camp “if he wanted to.” (Joe Person)


Saints HC Dennis Allen voiced disappointment about first-round OT Trevor Penning and DT Malcolm Roach getting into a scuffle at Wednesday’s practice, but doesn’t think it’s unusual for players to fight in training camp. 

“We don’t have time for that,” Allen said, via Katherine Terrell of ESPN. “I sent two guys in today and we’ve got to get our work done. We’ve got to learn as a team how to compete and how to play and how to practice and push ourselves to the limit but yet not take it over the edge… It’s not unusual for something like that to occur in training camp. It’s certainly something we don’t want to see happen. It’ll be addressed and we’ll move forward.”

Saints OL Cesar Ruiz praised Penning’s aggressiveness and having a “finishing mentality.”

“It’s like, when you think he’s done, he’s not done,” Ruiz said. “He definitely has that finishing mentality you love in an offensive lineman.”

Penning said that playing until the whistle is a natural part of his game. 

“It’s part of my game, I think. It’s just how I am as a player,” Penning said Monday. “But I’m obviously out there working technique. I’m trying to get better at the technique of the game, getting the blocks down. The finishing ability, that’s what I pride myself in, and that’s always going to be part of my game.”

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