NFC Notes: Buccaneers, Panthers, Saints



  • Buccaneers HC Bruce Arians is confident that their receivers will fill in well for Antonio Brown (knee) on Sunday: “Antonio will be missed but we have capable people filling in.” (Karen Guregian)
  • Tom Brady said it’s unfortunate to lose Brown ahead of the NFC Championship round, but they must “find a way to win”: “We’re going to have to find a way to win. It obviously sucks for Antonio. Wish he could be with us.” (Guregian)
  • When asked about his decision to sign with Tampa Bay, Brady mentioned the coaching staff and quality of teammates as reasons he joined the Bucs last offseason: “Think I looked at the whole situation. There were a lot of reasons to come here. Great coaching staff. A lot of great players. I just wanted to come and compete…to play in a championship game is a great experience and I love being able to do that.” (Rick Stroud)
  • Prior to the Buccaneers activating DT Vita Vea from their injured reserve, Arians said that the defensive tackle did well in practice this week after recovering from his ankle injury: “He’s looked real good. He’s been running around for almost three weeks and had a real good practice yesterday and a good one today. So we haven’t made that determination yet but we’ll see if we want to activate him or not but there is a chance…” (Stroud)


New Panthers’ GM Scott Fitterer expects to have his finger on the pulse when it comes to what is going on around the NFL this offseason and claims that he will be involved in every deal.

“I’m not going to get into hypotheticals,” Fitterer said, via Darrin Gant of “What I will tell you is we will be in on every deal. We’re going to find out where things are going, what the landscape is in the NFL. But before we do anything outside, I need to figure out who’s here. I need to figure out this roster. I need to figure out who’s on our offensive line, who’s on our defensive line. I know them from a 30,000-foot view, but I need to know them from a coaching standpoint, and a personal standpoint, and meet these guys and see what they’re made of. There’s a lot of things we’re going to be involved with going forward. We’re going to be very aggressive in our acquisition process, but it starts with getting to know our team, and just being here for a few days, I’m just getting started in that process.”

Fitterer also mentions the flexibility they will have in picking eighth overall in the draft this year, in comparison to having to pick later in the round as he did during his time in Seattle.

“This year, it’s going to be a little bit different,” Fitterer said. “Picking eighth this year, we’re in that mix of players. That gives us the opportunity. We can move up, we can move back, it gives us a lot of flexibility in the draft. It’ll be a new adventure, and one I’m looking forward to. But if you’re not in that top part of the draft, we’re going to try to acquire picks.”

Panthers’ HC Matt Rhule commented on returning OC Joe Brady and said he’s excited for his return, regardless of what the future holds for him.

“I’m excited for the chance to have him back next year,” Rhule said. “No one can ever understand how hard that was for Joe, to install a new system over Zoom, with new coaches and new players. I really look forward to this year, seeing what Joe’s starting to build to bear fruit. If it works out, I’m really excited about that.”


  • Regarding the Saints signing DL coach Ryan Nielsen to a three-year extension, HC Sean Payton said he went into “recruiting mode” in order to sway Nielsen from becoming LSU’s defensive coordinator: “In this business, you have talented people you work with and they have other opportunities. And then every once in a while, you go into recruiting mode.” (Jeff Duncan)
  • Payton said there are no hard feelings from Nielsen after turning down LSU to stay with the Saints: “We’re outstanding. Literally, he was just in my office 60 seconds ago, we’re fantastic. Fired up he’s returning.” 
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