NFC Notes: Buccaneers, Falcons, Washington


The Buccaneers did not expect to get DT Vita Vea back after he fractured his ankle in Week 5, but Vea returned ahead of schedule and is now relaying his experience ahead of his appearance in the Super Bowl.

“Obviously, I was down and out that night, but I think that night I told myself, ‘If you just push through this, push through rehab, you might have a chance,'” Vea said, via Jenna Laine of ESPN. “They told me I might have a small chance of making it, so I took those chances of what they said, and I really took it to heart. That’s what I stuck with. I knew at the end of the day, I’d be back. I kept telling myself, ‘I’ll be back.'”

Buccaneers’ star LB Shaquil Barrett also commented on the difference that Vea makes in Tampa Bay’s pass rush.

“Vita’s a big impact,” Barrett said. “We most definitely missed Vita. On the first sack, the quarterback was trying to go to where Vita was at but he couldn’t because Vita was right there and he flushed him right to me, and it worked out perfectly. Just from that, not even a run defense — run defense, he’s a really important piece in there — wherever Vita’s at, he’s gonna take the gap next to him on both sides, and maybe one more gap, so we most definitely missed him in there.”


Former NFL HC Mike Shanahan praised new Falcons’ GM Kyle Smith for his work as a scout and personnel executive with the Washington Football Team. 

“You could see at a very young age that Kyle left no stone unturned relative to evaluating somebody both on and off the field,” Shanahan said, via Nicki Jhabvala. “He was one of the best I had been around. … People would always ask me about Kyle, and I’d say there’s no way they would ever let him out of the building — and if they do, they’re complete idiots.”

Former Washington HC Jay Gruden added that Smith helped with many positive draft classes for them, sufficiently preparing for the annual NFL Draft and listening to coaches on their feedback. 

“Every year that I was there, we had a pretty good draft class, with a couple exceptions,” Gruden said. “[Smith] was really good about listening to the coaches because the coaches also did evaluations. … When it came our time to pick, we’d always talk about the picks, where we’d like to go, what happens if [the player] is gone, and did all our scenarios. And then [owner Daniel Snyder] would come in off his yacht and make the pick.”

  • The Falcons officially hired former Texans’ assistant QBs coach T.J. Yates as their passing game specialist, former Duke LBs coach Lanier Goethie as a defensive assistant, and Nick Perry as assistant defensive backs coach. 


Veteran QB Alex Smith makes it seem like he plans on playing football in 2021 following his comeback from a severe injury, whether that will be in Washington remains to be seen.

“For me, this year was such a crazy rush to be out there, practicing out there every single day, to be able to put on my cleats and helmet,” Smith said, via Ethan Cadeaux of NBC Sports Washington. “But for me, the crazy thing was how well my body responded to that. I just feel like I continued to get stronger and stronger and better and better. I still feel like I’m kind of a kid right now headed into the offseason. I had such an amazing time playing. I felt so good out there. It was crazy after that first game how comfortable I felt back out on the field. I’m excited for this offseason to see what I can go do — football and everything else. I plan on doing as much as I can.”

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