NFC Notes: Falcons, Panthers, Saints


  • NFL Media’s Ian Rapoport reports Falcons WR Russell Gage is considered week-to-week after sustaining an ankle injury in Week 2 and will be monitored on Friday to determine his availability for Week 3.
  • Rapoport adds that Gage may be “a bit of a long-shot” to play. 
  • Falcons DL John Cominsky was a healthy scratch in Week 2 in favor of fifth-round DL Ta’Quon Graham, HC Arthur Smith explained that both players will continue being a “week to week decision” for them. (D. Orlando Ledbetter)
  • Smith said they are hopeful CB Kendall Sheffield (undisclosed) and LG Josh Andrews (broken hand) are close to returning. (Ledbetter)
  • Falcons QB Matt Ryan had high praise of RB/WR Cordarrelle Patterson: “He an old-school player… can do a bit of everything. He’s the kind of guy you want to be around.” (Tori McElhaney)
  • Smith believes third-round OL Jalen Mayfield has taken a step with his performance in Week 2 although it “wasn’t perfect.” (McElhaney)


Though the Panthers drafted LB Shaq Thompson in the first round in 2015, he spent the first few years of his career behind a pair of team legends in Luke Kuechly and Thomas Davis. Last year was the first year he was really the unquestioned top linebacker and leader of the defense but this year is the year Thompson seems to have really seized control of the role. He’s been all over the field as the Panthers defense has been one of the league’s biggest breakout units in 2021. 

“That’s something I want to see in myself each and every game. Be more productive on the ball. I’ve gotta be that leader on the defense,” Thompson said via the Athletic’s Joe Person. “I’m not saying, ‘I need to be Luke.’ I need to be Shaq. The guys that came in here, most of them didn’t play with Luke. They don’t know how Luke operated. I’ve gotta be that Shaq to them.”


Multiple reports indicated the Saints were trying like crazy to trade up in the first round of the draft this past April. A lot of reporters had their target pegged as one of the four cornerbacks that went before their pick but there was some buzz that they were eyeing eventual Patriots first-round QB Mac Jones. Set to face off against New England this week, Saints HC Sean Payton said New Orleans was indeed high on the former Alabama signal caller. 

“He was someone that we were really high on,” Payton said via a team-released transcript. “I think he processes information fast. At Alabama, if you watch closely his tape, the ball comes out, decisions are made fast. I think he sees the field horizontally as well as vertically well. He has the arm to make the throws that you want. His decision-making and processing are where I felt were really strong suits with him, and I think he’s handling it well. It’s not easy to all of a sudden come in and start Week 1 as a rookie, but he’s a smart player.”

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