NFC South Notes: Buccaneers, Falcons, Panthers



  • Buccaneers S Justin Evans is in a walking boot after undergoing a follow-up procedure on the toe he injured last season. (Rick Stroud)
  • Evans is still expected to be ready for training camp. (Greg Auman)


Falcons RB Devonta Freeman has said he feels healthy this year after battling a series of injuries the past two seasons. He’s now focused on staying healthy on advice from his mentor, former Falcons RB Warrick Dunn.

“Warrick always tells me all the time — you know he talks low — but he tells me, ‘Hey, man, you’ve got do better. You can’t be taking all these hits, man. It’s all about longevity,'” Freeman said via ESPN’s Vaughn McClure. “That’s what he always says to me, and I appreciate that. I really appreciate stuff like that.”

Freeman played in only two games in 2018 because of knee, foot and groin injuries before finally shutting down for the year following core muscle surgery. He had two concussions and sprained a pair of knee ligaments in 2017 and had another concussion in 2015.

“A lot of times, these guys always want to prove that they’re tough or that they can get the tough yard, but sometimes you have to live for another down,” Dunn said. “My advice to Devonta was, ‘You have to learn how to protect yourself at the same time. You’re picking up tough yards, but you have to be smart and strategic about it.”


New Panthers DT Gerald McCoy said he felt like Carolina was just “a great fit.”

“Being around the guys we just meshed & I love the instant chemistry we had,” McCoy texted ESPN’s Josina Anderson. “They have a tradition of having a great defense. I love the players & I believe in #1 (Cam Newton). (Ron) Rivera is a proven coach & can’t wait to get started”

McCoy’s exit from Tampa Bay was preceded by Buccaneers HC Bruce Arians saying McCoy wasn’t “as disruptive as he used to be.” Proving him wrong was a major factor in McCoy choosing Carolina.

“That was said by somebody who doesn’t know me and was never around me,” McCoy said via Max Henson of the official team site. “Why it was said, I really don’t care. I know who I am and what I’m capable of. That’s why I’m here.”

  • NFL Media’s Ian Rapoport says a team believed to be the Ravens offered DT Gerald McCoy almost twice as much guaranteed money as the $4 million he signed with the Panthers for. 
  • Rapoport adds McCoy wanted to stay in the South, enjoyed the camaraderie with the Panthers, and of course the chance to play the Buccaneers twice in 2019. 
  • McCoy’s contract includes a $4 million signing bonus, $3 million base salary, $1 million roster bonus and up to $2.25 million in incentives. (Jason La Canfora)
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