NFC Notes: Buccaneers, Sam Darnold, Panthers, Saints


New Buccaneers HC Todd Bowles noted UDFA WR Deven Thompkins out of Utah State as a receiver who has been making an impact this offseason.

“I would love to see what Thompkins does in training camp,” Bowles said via Jenna Laine of ESPN. “He’s quick, he’s fast, he’s explosive off of the ball, and he’s made some good catches. So, we want to see how he continues to learn and how he does in training camp and preseason. I’ll be looking at him.”


Panthers QB Sam Darnold has quietly had a good spring, and not just because the Panthers haven’t added anyone to replace him yet besides a rookie who will need time to get up to speed in third-rounder Matt Corral. Panthers HC Matt Rhule and others say they’ve noticed improvements with Darnold. 

“The one thing I think I am very proud about with Sam is that he’s taken very much a stoic approach of, hey, I’m gonna control what I can control. A lot of people say that. They don’t do it,” Rhule said via the Athletic’s Joe Person. “He can’t control decisions we make as an organization. He can control when he’s out there, what he does. I think by taking that approach we’ve seen Sam get better and better and better.”

Of course, Darnold has always looked great in the settings he’s in now, practices with just helmets and shorts and minimal contact allowed. It’s when the real bullets start flying in games when Darnold has crumbled in the past. 

“It’s the National Football League. You’re gonna have interceptions. We just can’t have three-interception games, four-interception games. That’ll happen once in a while. It just can’t happen routinely. And it can’t happen because we’re just being careless with the football,” Rhule said. “He’s minimizing those plays. But I also think footwork-wise, he’s taken steps. Sam’s a quiet guy. But when you make big plays — we’ve thrown the ball deep more in the last two days than we probably had in a while.”


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