NFC Notes: Falcons, Panthers, Saints


Falcons HC Arthur Smith said they are pushing first-round TE Kyle Pitts in OTAs to see what he can handle. 

We are just trying to push and see what these guys can handle mentally and bring them along so they understand the schemes,” Smith said, via D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “We’ve been doing a lot of individual development so when we get to training camp and they are in good shape.”

Smith mentioned that they will not force players like Pitts or TE Lee Smith into roles that don’t fit them. 

“But if a guy, take (tight end) Lee Smith for example, we are not going to ask Lee to do the same thing we are doing with Kyle,” Smith said. “We have to use Lee in the best role that he can (play). If we want to play big-boy football inside, that’s why Lee is here (to be a blocking tight end). But both of them are called tight ends.”


When speaking about Panthers QB Sam Darnold‘s mechanics, QBs coach Sean Ryan said he wants to make sure Darnold’s feet and lower body are correct when throwing. 

“The process would be like any other quarterback I’ve worked with — you start from the feet up,” Ryan said. “When your feet are right, when your lower half is right, there’s a really good chance the balls are going in the right spot.”

“Sometimes people miss subtle movements, in-the-pocket movements,” Ryan said, via David Newton of ESPN. “To me, less moving parts equals more accuracy. So I think it’s a subtle movement up in the pocket, or to the side in the pocket, but I’m still in a great throwing position. And we’ve done a lot of that this offseason.”

Panthers OC Joe Brady praised Darnold’s ability to quickly learn from mistakes and thinks he is “growing from his experiences.”

What I love is if he makes a mistake one day, the next day he doesn’t make the mistake again, so he’s growing from his experiences,” Brady said.


The Saints are set to have a quarterback competition between Jameis Winston and Taysom Hill this summer, and there’s a pervading sense on the New Orleans beat that Winston is the early favorite. The Athletic’s Katherine Terrell took note of what Saints DE Cameron Jordan said when asked about leadership on offense to surmise that Winston might be the favorite in the locker room as well. 

“You have one of the most dynamic running backs I’ve ever seen in (Alvin Kamara) … you have a top-tier receiver when he’s healthy. When I say top tier, he’s probably number one, in Michael Thomas,” Jordan said. “And you talk about what our quarterbacks can do, we have a quarterback who’s thrown for 5,000 yards in this league, in the NFL. And after being in our offense for a year, he’s probably more comfortable than he was last year. You get excited about what he can do. I feel like, in terms of leadership, we’ve got a lot to offer. And that’s not even talking about special teams, because I feel like Deonte (Harris) has been special.”

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