NFC Notes: Falcons, Panthers, Saints


  • ESPN’s Vaughn McClure notes that new Falcons CB Darqueze Dennard will likely start at nickel corner which allows Atlanta to keep 2019 fourth-round CB Kendall Sheffield outside. 
  • McClure says the last starting outside corner spot will come down to either first-round CB A.J. Terrell or Isaiah Oliver, with McClure giving the edge to Terrell due to his draft status. 
  • Falcons RB Ito Smith appears to have put on 8-10 pounds from last year. He was listed at 195 pounds. (McClure)


  • New Panthers QB Teddy Bridgewater says the offense under OC Joe Brady has a “high percentage” of the Saints’ system in it but Brady has added his own personal touches. (Person)
  • Bridgewater suggested the Panthers plan to spread the ball around to a myriad of weapons on offense: “Joe isn’t calling plays just to get one guy the ball.” (Person)
  • Panthers GM Marty Hurney said he thought Bridgewater was one of the best quarterbacks in his class when he came out in the draft in 2014 and thought he was the right player to replace Cam Newton: “He’s always been a winner.” (David Newton)
  • Hurney noted the team decided to release veteran K Graham Gano to get down to 80 in part because they are confident in his replacement last year, K Joey Slye: “We think the world of (Gano). He’s a very talented kicker, but we decided to go with Joey.” (Newton)
  • Panthers EDGE Christian Miller made the decision to opt out in 2020 as a high-risk player. His father, a former NFL player, said it was a hard decision for Miller, who just finished his rookie year in 2019: “Christian loves football. He was looking forward to getting with the new staff. But there’s so much going on and so much uncertainty. You’re not in a bubble. You can’t control other people, teammates and what they’re doing. . . . He talked to me, his mother, brother. We all agree he’s making the right decision. . . . It was emotional for him.” (Newton)


Saints WR Michael Thomas broke what many thought was one of the NFL’s most untouchable records — former Colts WR Marvin Harrison‘s 143 receptions in a season. Thomas blew past it with 149 catches and he’s looking to break it again and crack 150 in 2020. 

“It’s just what I do. At my position I set real high goals and try to accomplish them along with winning football games and helping out the people around me,” Thomas said via John DeShazier of the team’s official website. “It is kind of just like something that keeps you (motivated), you know, we have goals at the beginning of the season and you kind of just chase them all year and just kind of, I do not know. I feel like in my head I was going to get it eventually because I don’t really drop too many passes. When it comes to that I just had to just stay consistent and be more consistent and take advantage of my opportunities and it just added up faster.”

  • Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer mentions the Saints kicked the tires on free-agent WR Antonio Brown but the signing of veteran WR Emmanuel Sanders likely eliminates New Orleans as a potential destination for Brown. 
  • Saints HC Sean Payton fractured a bone in his right hand while on vacation this offseason and needed three pins inserted. (Jeff Duncan)

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