NFC South Notes: Buccaneers, Falcons, Panthers, Saints

     

Buccaneers

Andrea Kremer said on HBO’s Real Sports that the Buccaneers’ ownership wanted recently hired HC Bruce Arians to call plays instead of OC Byron Leftwich.  

The Glazers were not real fired up that he said he’s not going to be calling the plays,” said Kremer, via Rick Stroud of The Tampa Bay Times

Kremer points to Arians’ “inventive” play-calling as one of the reasons Tampa Bay hired him. 

When you hire Bruce Arians, you’re hiring him because, darn, the guy wrote a book called The Quarterback Whisperer,” said Kremer. “And he truly has been, to Ben Roethlisberger and Andrew Luck and Peyton Manning and now he’s got his biggest challenge in Jameis Winston. But you’re hiring for that. You’re hiring him for his inventive playing calling and his great offensive mind.”

Arians said that he urged the Buccaneers’ front office to give Leftwich play-calling duties and assured them he will be “right over his shoulder.” 

Yeah, there was a real good conversation about it,’’ Arians said. “I said, ‘Just trust me. My hand is there. I’m right over his shoulder. He is trained and ready to go.’ It’s just something I wanted to do.’’

Falcons

The Falcons made addressing the offensive line their top priority this past offseason, re-signing OT Ty Sambrailo, adding free agents Jamon Brown and James Carpenter and spending a pair of first-round picks on G Chris Lindstrom and OT Kaleb McGary. That’s only the first step, though, as now those players have to put it together on the field. 

“You’ve got four news guys in the building that are talented, tough and add to the unit as a whole,” Falcons QB Matt Ryan said via D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “Right now, it’s a work in progress. We are figuring out who fits well together and who fits where. I’m just happy with the way those guys are approaching it, working it and competing in a good way to make us better. Guys have worked really hard, but we’ve got a long way to go to be the kind of football team that we want to be. We’ve got a lot of hard work in front of us.”

  • CBS analyst and former agent Joel Corry expects Jimmy Sexton, the agent for Falcons WR Julio Jones, to aim for a higher average yearly salary than the nearly $20 million the Saints signed Michael Thomas for, but ask for fewer guaranteed dollars in Jones extension. 

Panthers

Panthers RB Christian McCaffrey hardly came off the field last season, playing a staggering 91.3 percent of the team’s snaps on offense. Adjusting McCaffrey’s workload is something the team would like to do this season, though that will come in the form of taking him off the field, not necessarily reducing his touches. 

“We want the ball in Christian’s hands,” Panthers HC Ron Rivera said via ESPN’s David Newton. “When he’s on the field, there’s no reason for him to be a decoy or swing guy. Why not figure out the best thing, and that’s what Coach Norv [Turner] wants to do.”

The Panthers see McCaffrey as someone who could legitimately have both 1,000 yards rushing and receiving. 

“We don’t want to take away the touches,” Rivera added. “What we want to do is take away the excess plays so he won’t be out there.”

  • The Panthers brought in some offensive linemen for a workout Wednesday, per the Athletic’s Joe Person.
  • The Panthers worked out a kicker to potentially take some of the load from K Graham Gano, who’s coming off an injury. (Person)
  • Panthers LB Luke Kuechly went down briefly during a drill and Panthers HC Ron Rivera says the team decided to be safe even though Kuechly said he could go back in: “No reason to not be cautious on a hot day.” (Jourdan Rodrigue)

Saints

  • According to Pro Football Talk, Saints WR Michael Thomas‘ new deal includes a $20 million signing bonus and $32.6 million paid out through 2020. 
  • Thomas’ extension actually comes out to $19.25 million per season, as one source says the wide receiver “has to do some crazy sh-t in the last two years of the deal” to get to $20 million. (PFT)

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