NFC Notes: Buccaneers, Falcons, Saints

     

Buccaneers

  • The Buccaneers have named director of athletic performance Gregory Skaggs their infection control officer as a part of the NFL’s mandated infection response staff for each organization. (Jenna Laine)

Falcons

Falcons WR Calvin Ridley has been consistently productive since being taken in the first round by Atlanta in 2018. He had 64 catches for 821 yards and 10 touchdowns as a rookie and nearly replicated those numbers in 13 games last season, recording 63 grabs, 866 yards and seven touchdowns. But Falcons OC Dirk Koetter thinks there’s another level that Ridley hasn’t tapped into yet — one that he will in 2020. 

“I think he’s always been able to beat his man just by pure speed and athleticism, and I think as he gets a little more consistent in his route running and understanding what is landmarks are, his depths of his routes are, I think you’re going to see a jump in his game,” Koetter said via Will McFadden of the team website. “Now, you say that, but we’re also talking about a guy who, in his first two years in the league, has put up some pretty substantial numbers. But I think his talent is even higher than that.”

  • Per D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Falcons LB Deion Jones says LB Foye Oluokun is ready to step into the starting lineup in 2020: “He knows a lot of ball. It’s our job as his teammates to bring all of that knowledge out of him. I think he’s going to do a good job. He’s not backing down from the plate. He’s going to be A-OK.”
  • Jones thinks new Falcons DE Dante Fowler will bring a much-needed infusion of pass-rushing ability and energy: “He brings energy and a lot of enthusiasm. I love his dog mentality on the edge, too. Just having him on the team and having the juice on the defense, I can’t wait to see him out there with his hair out and having fun.”

Saints

The Saints have one of the deepest rosters in the NFL and are on a shortlist of Super Bowl contenders for 2020. But if they have an Achilles heel, it’s depth in the secondary. To that end, New Orleans signed the XFL’s interception leader, CB Deatrick Nichols, who will have a chance to compete for a role as a slot corner this summer. 

“When you look at Deatrick, the first thing that sticks out with him is how competitive he is,” Saints DB coach Aaron Glenn said via the Athletic’s Katherine Terrell. “And then the ball skills that he possesses. You saw that not just in the XFL, but you saw that in college. I think he had like 11 picks when he was in college, so the ball finds him. And as a defensive back, I see two attributes that you really like in a DB – competitive and ball skills. And those are the things that stuck out to me when I saw him play.

“So he’s going to get a chance to come in and compete. He’s on the smaller side, but we do have a clear vision for him. I could see him fighting his butt off and not taking a backseat to anybody on this team. That’s just the mentality that he has. You want those guys like that even though we have a number of good players in the secondary. He’s not afraid to come in and compete and show what he can do and try to get some good tape.”

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