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Behind Enemy Lines is a look at Tampa Bay’s NFC South foes every week. Let’s spy on the Bucs’ division rivals, shall we?

Atlanta Falcons

• Atlanta first-round draft pick Takk McKinley and the Falcons have been at odds for awhile now, at least since his fifth-year option was declined earlier this year. McKinley had hoped for a trade prior to the NFL’s trade deadline last week, but no deal was reached.

McKinley took to Twitter to voice his frustration and the Falcons finally had enough, releasing the 2017 first rounder on Monday. McKinley claimed that the Falcons had a number of offers to make a trade, but that seems highly unlikely. Now that he’s been released, Atlanta gets nothing in return for the former 26th overall pick.

In his time in Atlanta, McKinley totaled just 75 tackles and 17.5 sacks.

• With three wins in four weeks, interim head coach Raheem Morris is making a bid for the full-time job. Dan Quinn was fired after a dreadful start this season and Morris has the Falcons playing well, with their most recent win coming last Sunday against the Denver Broncos.

Falcons owner Arthur Blank

Falcons owner Arthur Blank – Photo by: USA Today

Owner Arthur Blank commented on Morris’ chances of succeeding Quinn in a full time capacity.

“Raheem will be looked at as any other coach will be,” Blank said on a podcast recently. “I’ve known him for a long time. I think he’s a good guy. I think he’s got a lot of credentials. He’s not the same man he was when he was 32 [and] became a head coach [with the Bucs]. Twelve years later, he’s matured a good bit. 32, it’s hard to be a head coach in the NFL. It’s not impossible, but it’s hard to do. Twelve years later, I think he’s had a lot of great experiences, and I think he’s learned a lot, and I wish him all the success he could possibly have, for his benefit and for our benefit.”

Morris coached the Buccaneers from 2009 to 2011 and many feel that after nearly 10 years as an assistant, he is worthy of another shot as an NFL head coach. The question is – does Blank? Morris has seven more games to audition.

• Without McKinley, the Flacons had an open roster spot and filled it with linebacker Edmond Robinson off of their practice squad.

Carolina Panthers

• The Bucs next opponent, the Carolina Panthers aren’t the same team Tampa Bay beat in Week 2 by a score of 31-17, as proven by the Panthers going on the road and narrowly losing to the Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs. Carolina missed a 67-yard field goal as time expired, but the fact it went down to the wire should get Tampa Bay’s attention. The Panthers tallied 435 yards of offense and couldn’t be put away, continually coming back in the fourth quarter.

Bucs ILB Lavonte David

Bucs ILB Lavonte David – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

• Running back Christian McCaffrey can’t catch a break. After missing several weeks with an ankle injury suffered in a loss to the Bucs earlier this year, McCaffrey dinged his shoulder in his first game back last Sunday and is listed as day-to-day. An earlier report suggested he could miss this week’s game, but head coach Matt Rhule hasn’t ruled him out. We will know more as the week progresses.

McCaffrey scored two touchdowns in his return against the Chiefs, rushing 18 times for 69 yards and catching 10 passes for 82 yards.

New Orleans Saints

• The Saints handed the Bucs an embarrassing loss on Sunday night, beating Tampa Bay 38-3 to prove they are still the top team in the NFC South. With all the talk of Antonio Brown joining the Buccaneers and seeing his first action in over a year, there was another receiver on the field who was also coming back from controversy.

Saints receiver Michael Thomas, who hadn’t played since Week 1 due to injuries and then later a suspension for a fight with his own teammate, was pleased to be healthy, and according to him, more mature.

“My emotions got the best of me in that situation,” Thomas said following the game. “I’ve grown from that, and I’m here to help my team win games and finish the mission: To win a championship.

“It felt great just to be out there with the guys and dominate the game on all sides of the ball. That’s what we expect as an offense, that’s the standard. That’s how we’ve been trying to play the past six weeks. Unfortunately, I wasn’t out there to help the guys, but I’m back out there and I’m trying to do my job to the best of my abilities, and we’re all complementing each other.

Saints head coach Sean Payton

Saints head coach Sean Payton – Photo by: USA Today

Head coach Sean Payton was happy to have Thomas back in the lineup.

“This is really the first time coming back off an injury ever for him in the NFL,” Payton said. ”We wanted to be smart relative to the pitch count, but he handled it well. I’m really proud of him. It was really good to see him get in the flow of the game, because I think sometimes the mistake can be how much we use him in that first week back.”

• Tampa Bay did a good job of bottling up Saints running back Alvin Kamara on Sunday night, holding the Pro Bowler to a total of just 49 yards on the ground and as a receiver, but the focus to stop Kamara opened things up for others on the Saints to help New Orleans cruise offensively, scoring nearly at will.

Kamara wasn’t upset with his production as others stepped up.

“It’s been a long time coming, just trying to play a complete game on offense, and I think that’s the most complete game we’ve played,” Kamara said. “You see what it looks like — it’s poetry in motion when we get going like that.”

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About the Author: Mark Cook

Mark Cook currently is the director of editorial content and Bucs beat writer and has written for PewterReport.com since 2011. Cook has followed the Buccaneers since 1977 when he first began watching football with his Dad and is fond of the 1979 Bucs team that came within 10 points of going to a Super Bowl. His favorite Bucs game is still the 1979 divisional playoff win 24-17 over the Eagles. In his spare time Cook enjoys playing guitar, fishing, the beach and family time.Cook is a native of Pinecrest in Eastern Hillsborough County and has written for numerous publications including the Tampa Tribune, In the Field and Ya'll Magazine. Cook can be reached at mark@pewterreport.com
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1 year ago

LOL at Michael Thomas. Homeboy didn’t do jack squat in that game. 40 yards total receiving. GTFO out of here clown.

1 year ago

I’m still upset over that shellacking we took from the Saints. But at least we now know who the best team is in our division….Unquestionably. Go get’em Raheem! Always like the guy. He is truly making the best of his 2nd chance. If he can get the falcons to 8-8, He might…. stay as HC. Bucs better be ready this week. Teams are now figuring all brady needs is a little pressure and he breaks down. He can’t run or scramble. So once our O line misses an assignment, its open season on him. Huge key to teams beating us.… Read more »

Reply to  twspin
1 year ago

There’s a monumental difference between “a little pressure”, and a 50% pressure rate with the opponent rushing just 4 all game. Brady can handle “a little pressure”. Let’s get real

Reply to  Dave
1 year ago

Then why couldn’t he handle the pressure against the Saints. Nice try but no biscuit in your rationale. Keep it real and be truefull… SIR!

1 year ago

I’m pulling for Raheem. Always liked him and felt it was just too much, too soon with the Bucs. Just wish he’d get a HC gig in the AFC! LOL

1 year ago

Of course I wish Raheem well…….just not against us. I thought it was pretty bad when folks here mocked him, when in reality, he should have been commended for even being a NFL head coach at 32 years old. Most of us at that age are still in the “fake it until you make it” stage of our careers. I’m sure the chest thumping Saints are riding pretty high about now after “eating that W” with Jameis. But the fact remains, Brees, in spite of his success against the Bucs, just doesn’t look right. Not every opponent is going to… Read more »

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