NFC South Notes: Buccaneers, Falcons, Panthers, Saints

     

Buccaneers

  • Per the Athletic’s Greg Auman, Buccaneers HC Bruce Arians says G Alex Cappa will be out for a few weeks after breaking his arm during Sunday’s game. Cappa initially suffered the injury in the first half but played the rest of the game. 
  • Buccaneers RT Demar Dotson will also be sidelined next week with calf and hamstring injuries. (Rick Stroud)
  • Buccaneers S Justin Evans apparently had surgery to correct lingering ankle/foot issues that put him on injured reserve. (Auman)
  • The Buccaneers are re-signing LB Demone Harris to their practice squad. (Auman)

Falcons

With injuries leaving the Falcons shorthanded in the secondary and starting CB Isaiah Oliver struggling, Atlanta turned to fifth-round rookie CB Kendall Sheffield on Sunday against Houston. The rookie had five total tackles in relief and could have a larger role going forward. 

“He certainly is ready, and you’re correct that he did play more as it was going through for the game,” Falcons HC Dan Quinn said via Kelsey Conway of the official team website. “And (Damontae) Kazee was also injured, so we slid him back inside to nickel. But, yeah, he was going into the game with some more reps and he did that tonight.”

The Falcons also are trying to figure out what to do with Oliver, a second-round pick in 2018 who was expected to take over the No. 2 cornerback role across from Desmond Trufant, but instead has struggled this season. 

“Isaiah has been really, really close to making the play and he’s got to get over the hump to ‘How do I know get that last bit to finish? How do take that play that I almost make and convert that into a play for us?’” Atlanta assistant coach Jerome Henderson said before Sunday’s loss to the Texans when the Falcons were gashed for 426 passing yards and five touchdowns. “That’s what we’re working on this week to help him convert more of those really close plays and to get him even closer and to playing with more confidence.”

Panthers

After yet another stellar performance from Panthers RB Christian McCaffrey, who ran for 176 yards, caught six passes for another 61 yards and scored three touchdowns Sunday against the Jaguars, his teammates had nothing but superlatives for the third-year running back. Panthers DT Gerald McCoy said McCaffrey should be in the conversation for MVP given he leads the NFL in yards from scrimmage. 

“If I was writing, I would see if he’s from earth,” McCoy said via Bill Voth of the team’s website. “I’d have to check to see if he’s from Asgard or something. I don’t know where that dude’s from. If the season ended right now, he’s the MVP.”

Saints

For the first few games, the Saints kept the training wheels on former backup QB Teddy Bridgewater. Against an overmatched Buccaneers secondary Sunday, though, the wheels came off and Bridgewater threw for more than 300 yards and four touchdowns in a big division win to keep the Saints in sole possession of first place. 

“I feel like I have the easy job,” Bridgewater said via Pro Football Talk. “All I have to do is throw the ball to (Michael Thomas), Jared Cook, Ted Ginn, Austin Carr, Alvin Kamara, Josh Hill, and Taysom Hill. Finding ways to get guys involved and make plays for us. Today was a day when everything was clicking and we can come in this game finding opportunities to score points and get down in the red zone to do some good things.” 

Meanwhile, Saints QB Drew Brees is furiously rehabbing his thumb injury to try and return to the team as soon as possible. While Brees is hoping to beat the traditional timeline for his injury, he says he’s not going to return to the field until he’s confident he’s where he needs to be to perform. 

“I’m not going to rush myself back just so I can get myself back out on the field and not be who I need to be for this team,” Brees said via ESPN’s Jeff Triplett. “I’m just going to take it one day at a time & see if we can fast-track this.”

“I’ve never been through this before,” Brees added via Triplett. “I know what feels normal. It’s not normal yet.”

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