NFC Notes: Buccaneers, Panthers, Saints


  • The Athletic’s Greg Auman writes Buccaneers fourth-round WR Jaelon Darden has a path to the active roster as a kick and punt returner even though he’s buried on a deep Tampa Bay receiving corps. 
  • Auman notes 2020 third-round RB Ke’Shawn Vaughn needs to establish a role on special teams if he wants to be active as the No. 4 running back on the depth chart right now. 
  • Because the Buccaneers re-signed so many of their own players, young players like OLB Cam Gill, DL Khalil Davis, and WR Justin Watson likely need to show out on special teams to make the roster, otherwise a practice squad berth is what they’ll be battling for, per Auman. 
  • Auman mentions that Buccaneers C Ryan Jensen, G Alex Cappa, and G Aaron Stinnie are all entering contract years in 2021 and it’s not a lock that Tampa Bay brings all of them back. 


One of Panthers HC Matt Rhule‘s goals for the 2021 season is to make more of an effort to keep his linebackers fresh. Rhule thought LB Shaq Thompson wore down toward the end of the season, and with a 17th game coming, he made it a priority to sign LB Denzel Perryman, who along with some hopeful development from Jermaine Carter will give the team options at the position. 

From this time last year to now, he knows what to expect; he knows how to get guys lined up,” Rhule said of Carter. “We have three guys there, in Denzel, Jermaine, and Shaq. We looked back at last year; Shaq played like 1,100 plays, rarely came off the field. And I’d like to get that number down, so he can play fast and play late in the year.”

Rhule added that the Panthers trio of linebackers brings a lot of versatility to the table and allows them to do more things on that side of the ball while also giving guys needed rest.

Those three guys give us a lot of versatility, that we can play a lot of different packages and get a guy off the field and give him a little bit of a break” Rhule explained.

Carter added that he feels comfortable at all three LB positions, and just wants to do whatever he can to help his team win.

At this point, I’m just trying to prove to my teammates and coaches that I can go out there and be the one to lead the defense,” Carter stated. “I can play any linebacker position — Sam, Mike, or Will — and I just want to show that I’m capable of doing that.


  • ESPN’s Mike Triplett notes Saints GM Mickey Loomis made it a point to say this offseason the Saints were “retooling” and not rebuilding after Drew Brees‘ retirement. 
  • New Orleans still plans to try and contend in 2021 but Triplett says their success will hinge on what they get from QBs Jameis Winston and Taysom Hill, who will compete in training camp to replace Brees. 

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