NFC Notes: Tom Brady, Buccaneers, Falcons, Panthers, Saints


Bucs QB Tom Brady isn’t expecting a welcoming crowd when he returns to New England for the team’s game against the Patriots on Sunday night.

I wouldn’t expect a homecoming,” Brady said, via NESN. “I think they’re there to root for their team, and their team is the Patriots. I certainly have a lot of people that have cheered for me over the years. I have a lot of family there, and I have a lot of friends that have wanted to go to the game. They’ve been asking about tickets for six months. So there will be a lot of excitement from them in the stands. But I think the home crowd at Gillette is a great crowd, and I think they are going to cheer for their team, as I would expect them to. And I think if they know anything about me, they’re going to know that I’m going out there to try to win the football game. So I think they’ll respect that about me. I certainly respect that they’re there to pull for their team, and that’s the way sports goes. After the game comes and goes, things will happen as they will. I’m not sure how things unfold — other than how I want them to unfold, which is us to go play a great game of football and try to get a really tough win in a really great football environment.

Brady said that he’s going to approach this game like he approaches any other game, but does acknowledge that he’s had this game circled on his calendar since last March.

That’s the reality of pro sports,” Brady said. “I think having the opportunity as a free agent 18 months ago and choosing Tampa and then seeing that we were going to play the AFC East (in 2021), I know it would be inevitable. And here we are as we approach this week. It’ll be obviously a fun week. There’s a lot of build-up, a lot of hype, and I know it’s been kind of been going on for quite a while. I’m excited to go play a football game — a regular-season football game — and try to get back on a winning track. I know it’s against a team that I played 20 years for, and I know it’s against a very quality team and a great organization and a great franchise. But I’m going to do everything I can to keep it like I normally do. I feel like I put 100 percent into every week, so it’s not like I can say, ‘Well, this week, I’m going to put 110 percent in,’ because I try to put 100 percent in every week to the opponent. I have a lot of obviously tremendous memories. Some of the greatest experiences of my life took place in the last 20 years, personally and professionally, and going back to a place I know so well with so many friends will be a really exciting thing for everybody. And I think as the ball gets kicked off, I know it’s going to be kind of a normal football game, and I’m going to have to go do what I’ve always tried to do, (which) is be a great quarterback for the team that I’m playing on. I’d love to go up there and get a win against a really great football team.

  • Buccaneers TE Rob Gronkowski‘s X-rays came back negative, per ESPN’s Adam Schefter. Gronkowski is likely to play Sunday night against the Patriots.
  • Buccaneers RB Giovani Bernard suffered an MCL sprain during the team’s loss to the Rams. He is considered day-to-day and he’s TBD for Sunday’s game against the Patriots, according to NFL Media’s Tom Pelissero.
  • According to ESPN’s Ed Werder, CB Richard Sherman is visiting the Buccaneers and the two teams have had contract discussions. Sherman thinks he would need a couple of weeks to ramp up and be ready to play. 
  • Buccaneers CB Jamel Dean is unlikely to play Sunday with a knee injury but it’s not season-ending. (Pelissero)


Falcons K Younghoe Koo said he was motivated to get better after his rough stint with the Chargers.

“I wanted to be someone better than what I was with the Chargers,” Koo said, via “Because, if I didn’t improve after what I went through, it didn’t mean anything. That’s kind of the growth mindset that I picked up.”

Koo mentioned golf helps him get in the right mindset for kicking.

“I like golf because when I go into the gym, I’m busting my ass for two hours and when I’m done, I don’t want to do much, and golf’s chill you’re kind of just hanging out,” Koo said. “And there’s just so many similarities from kicking to the mental aspect of it to the swing thoughts. A lot of mechanics relate to kicking. And it’s fun and competitive.”

  • Aaron Wilson reports the Falcons worked out CB Will Sunderland.


Panthers HC Matt Rhule said the team needs to get WR Robby Anderson more involved in the offense.

“We have to get Robby going as an offense,” Rhule said, via Panthers Wire. “Against the Saints, we kinda had a couple deep shots to him we didn’t quite connect on. If you watch the tape last night, he’s open quite a bit and the ball’s not getting to him. And the ball’s being spread around to a lot of different people.”


After an uncharacteristic Week 1, the Jameis Winston the NFL world is familiar with has returned the past two weeks. Winston had another heave-and-pray throw against the Patriots as he was being pulled to the ground, but it went better for the Saints quarterback than it did the week before against the Panthers, as WR Marquez Callaway skied for his first career touchdown. Winston claimed afterward he was trying to throw the ball away. 

“I felt zero. I checked it,” Winston said via the Athletic’s Katherine Terrell. “That was all God. Like, I was trying to throw that ball away. Marquez went up there and snatched it, so … touchdown, good guys.”

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