Behind Enemy Lines is a weekly look at Tampa Bay’s NFC South foes every Tuesday. Let’s spy on the Bucs’ division rivals, shall we?
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• The Falcons recently revealed their captains for the 2020 season, with quarterback Matt Ryan, receiver Julio Jones and center Alex Mack getting the honor on the offensive side of the ball. Defensive tackle Grady Jarrett, linebacker Deion Jones and safety Ricardo Allen were named defensive captains for the upcoming year.
Falcons QB Matt Ryan and Bucs OLB Shaq Barrett – Photo by: Mary Holt/PR
• The Falcons, like all teams, had until Saturday to get down to 53 players for their active roster, and while they didn’t have many surprising cuts, they did part ways with a former first-round pick when they released ex-Vikings receiver Laquon Treadwell. After four unproductive years in Minnesota, Treadwell had hoped to revive his career with the Falcons.
• Figuring out the right pitch count for new running back Todd Gurley is still a work-in-progress, but head coach Dan Quinn has been impressed by what he has seen from the former Ram and Georgia Bulldog.
“That was part of learning him and us as well,” Quinn said. “What’s the best plan for him? We are pleased with where we are at. We think we’ve got a good plan in place of how we’d do the right thing by him to make sure that he’s at his best on game days.
“The speed was the thing. He out-ran the leverage on one play. On another one, he got to the edge and made a big play. I felt his speed for certain.”
Gurley has been hampered by knee issues dating back to his college days, which limited his effectiveness over the last couple of years in Los Angeles.
• Everyone knew the Panthers defense was going to be young and inexperienced in 2020, but after the first depth chart was recently released, you see just how young they will be. The Panthers listed four rookies as starters on the defensive side of the ball.
Former Panthers CB James Bradberry – Photo by Mary Holt
First-round defensive tackle Derrick Brown and second-round defensive end Yetur Gross-Matos will be joined by second-round safety Jeremy Chinn who is listed as co-starter at outside linebacker. Rounding out the rookie starters is fourth-round pick cornerback Troy Pride Jr.
Carolina parted ways with veteran players like James Bradberry, Gerald McCoy and several others on their roster this offseason as they rebuild under new head coach Matt Rhule.
• One of the players the Panthers hoped would be able to step in and lead their young defense will have to wait a little while to get on the field.
Carolina placed cornerback Eli Apple on injured reserve Monday after Apple dealt with ankle, foot and hamstring injuries during much of training camp. Apple will have to miss at least the first three weeks of the regular season.
• The Panthers held a scrimmage last Friday, and new head coach Matt Rhule was far from pleased with the effort.
“We did not play like a team that was excited to be out there,” Rhule told the Charlotte Observer. “It was not the energy level needed to play at a high level. That’s something we’ll have to learn from. When you see us play, you don’t want it to be, ‘Hey, they’re winning or losing by a lot just by watching them. You want it to be like, ‘You can’t tell if they’re winning or losing by 20 when you see us play. We just want to go out there and be the same guy every day.”
Carolina will get a chance to up their effort level a week from Sunday when the Las Vegas Raiders head to Charlotte to open the season.
New Orleans Saints
• The Saints and disgruntled running back Alvin Kamara are close to a new contract to keep their top running back in town for a few more years. According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter the deal is expected to be finalized in the next couple of days.
Saints and Pro-Bowl RB Alvin Kamara are “extremely close” to a lucrative new extension that the two sides are hoping to finalize in the next few days, per sources. The deal would silence any recent trade speculation and keep Kamara in New Orleans during the prime of his career.
• The first depth charts were revealed by teams recently and the Saints have listed former Bucs first round pick quarterback Jameis Winston as No. 3 behind starter Drew Brees and backup Taysom Hill. Winston was signed this past offseason to a modest one-year deal and the Saints also re-signed Hill to a two-year deal with $16 million in guaranteed money this offseason.
• The Saints surprised many on Day 3 of this past year’s draft when they traded a future sixth-round pick to the Raiders to get back in the draft to take Mississippi State QB Tommy Stevens. The Saints viewed Stevens as a Taysom Hill-like project player, but ended up waiving Stevens last Saturday. Stevens switched to tight end once he arrived in New Orleans, but didn’t impress enough to stick to the active roster – at least for now. Stevens was added to the Saints practice squad on Sunday.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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