NFC Notes: Buccaneers, Panthers, Saints


Buccaneers QBs coach Clyde Christensen compared Tom Brady‘s knee injury in 2020 to a nagging headache and that it inherently changed some of the quarterback’s mechanics. 

“If you have a headache, it’s just a headache, but you just want to feel good,” Christensen said, via Judy Battista of “I think it’s hard to get your knee, you’re throwing a football, and you’ve got the knee taped so tightly, you don’t have mobility, you can’t step through it. It just changes everything.”

Christensen is grateful that Tampa Bay was able to retain players this offseason. 

“There are some years you don’t want everyone back, you need fresh blood, you need change,” Christensen said. “On this team, because we still haven’t had a lot of time on task and we’re still deficient in reps, and we have such good guys, we had a good thing going on. And football was the last thing to come.”

Christensen recalled Brady showing frustration with the Buccaneers’ offensive line in training camp after they allowed multiple sacks. He thinks the veteran quarterback is the cure to any complacency issues. 

“He won’t allow it personally and he won’t allow it in a practice or on the team,” Christensen said. “Sometimes the great leaders have a knack for when to stir it up, even if it’s just for stir it up’s sake sometimes.”


Panthers HC Matt Rhule said he’s not concerned about the skepticism surrounding Sam Darnold‘s leadership and insisted that he wants Darnold to focus on “playing quarterback” given the number of veterans on Carolina’s roster. 

“He just has to worry about playing quarterback right now,” said Rhule, via Schuyler Callihan of “We’ve got great leaders…we’ve got all these veteran guys. What I’m really looking for from Sam right now is to be the first guy in the building and the last guy to leave. I want him to just absolutely grind and out-work the competition…the more you’re around the great quarterbacks, or the more you hear about them, their level of preparation sets a tone way beyond anything else. Sam looked like a guy that was very well prepared today. And that to me is how he’s going to lead this team.”

Rhule believes that Darnold has shown good decision-making in training camp.

“I think he’s made a lot of really good decisions. He’s a grinder, he’s coachable. I’ve been nothing but pleased with Sam. I think when he does something that we don’t want and we tell him, right away it’s ‘got it’.”

Rhule reiterated that Darnold appears “pretty comfortable” in their system and has been “protecting the ball” through an aggressive pass rush. 

“I think Sam is getting pretty comfortable back there. We have a pretty good rush, pretty good blitz package so he’s seeing a lot of things. He’s protecting the ball. I think we had a tipped pick in the red zone, so there are always things to learn from but I do think he’s comfortable back there but we’ll see when we get to Sunday. It always changes when we get to live and a chance to get hit,” said Rhule. 

As for the Panthers’ poor performance in Thursday’s scrimmage against the Colts, Rhule said he’s not putting blame on Darnold and wants the team to play with more overall precision. 

“I wouldn’t put too much on Sam today,” Rhule said. “I thought Sam was the least of our problems. I thought Sam was good. A: We weren’t always winning and B: Just not precise, what we want it to be. We’ll correct it tonight and come out tomorrow and look much sharper. I thought Sam protected the football and we were a play or two away from a couple of deep balls so we just got to connect on those.”


  • Larry Holder of The Athletic reports that the Saints are “more than open” to trading WR Michael Thomas after the receiver “blew off” their medical staff before agreeing to undergo ankle surgery in June. 
  • Holder is skeptical about a recent report indicating that Saints HC Sean Payton and Thomas have worked out their issues following a recent conversation: “I’m not buying a total reconciliation by any means. We’ve seen the ending to this movie plenty of times before. Eventual tension and a breakup might seem a little more commonplace in New Orleans than you thought once you read the list of names at the top of this column. Would the Saints take back all of those moves? I doubt it. They’re not afraid to cut ties with a player whose jersey might be hanging in your closet.

Looking for the latest NFL Insider News & Rumors?

Be sure to follow NFL Trade Rumors on TWITTER and FACEBOOK for breaking NFL News and Rumors for all 32 teams!

Leave a Reply