Behind Enemy Lines is a weekly look at Tampa Bay’s NFC South enemies every Wednesday. Let’s spy on Bucs’ division competitors, shall we?
• There is still talk of the effects of the huge trade in the former star-studded receiver Julio Jones to the Titans. New Falcons head coach Arthur Smith commented on the deal this week and shared his thoughts with Cris Collinsworth on his podcast.
“We knew the problem with the cap, and then the cap naturally fell this year and came out of the bizarre year of the pandemic when the cap actually fell,” Smith said. “So we knew there were going to be some big decisions we had to make to get up. That’s how everything works, we’re fine. We feel it was a win-win. With the pay ceiling, and Julio going to Tennessee, and we’ll be able to solve our short-term ceiling problem right now. ”
The Falcons received a 2022-round draft from Tennessee in the trade, saving $ 15.3 million in crop space with the deal.
The Falcons announced that safety Richie Grant has signed his four-year rookie deal with the team, leaving only Kyle Pitts in the first round as the only 2021 draft not signed.
Grant, the 40th overall pick in April last year, had 290 tackles, 10 interceptions, 11.5 tackles for losses, one sack. five forced fumbles, four fumble recoveries and one interception return for a touchdown in four seasons with UCF and will be counted on as part of a modernized Atlanta secondary.
• The NFL wants teams to reach a vaccination rate of 85 percent as a goal, and Falcons head coach Arthur Smith, although he does not reveal the team’s percentage, appears to be happy with the direction it is heading.
• Most teams shoot for a joint practice with another opponent during the preseason, but in the case of the Panthers, they will scrimmage with two teams during training camp.
Carolina travels to Indianapolis to practice against the Colts on August 12 and 13 before playing a preseason game on August 15. Then, after returning home, they plan to host the Ravens for two days before their preseason match on August 21st..
• Count star Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey as one who has been impressed with new quarterback Sam Darnold since the former Jets first-round pick joined the team in a trade last spring.
“I think I’ve seen him grow in many ways,” McCaffrey told ESPN. “He is a guy who approaches exactly the same thing every day and continues to strive to get better. But when you make a statement day 1 like Sam did, I think it’s hard – you just expect it from here on out. So someone like him comes every single day and always tries to get better. As a leader, he textes guys late at night and asks about plays and gives us what he sees on certain plays. And you can just tell he’s called.
“So every day, every throw, as a leader, as a player, just kind of evolving in the offense and learning the playbook and getting everything down, he has just been very consistent. So I think when you stack a lot of consecutive days on top of each other, it will ultimately create a lot of growth. And that’s what he’s done. ”
• The replacement of the Panthers front office continued this week with a number of moves.
Carolina announced the promotion of Pat Stewart to vice president of player staff and also hired Cole Spencer as director of college scouts coming over from the Washington Football Team. Internally, EJ Barthel was moved to a pro scouting role from his previous position as a coaching assistant, and Jeff Morrow was also promoted to a senior personnel manager from his previous scouting role. according to the team’s website.
New Orleans Saints
• The Saints surprised many in April when they selected rookie quarterback Ian Book out of Notre Dame in the fourth round. Despite control from some fans and national media, the former Irish standout loves his time in New Orleans and tries his best to learn from the veterans as he faces the challenge of joining the team.
“It’s been great,” Book said after the Saints minicamp. “It has been a dream come true, to be out here, and I just adapt and try to be a mushroom as much as I can, and on the weekends I see the city a bit and just adapt to this new city. Really love it, and in fact the food down here is great, the team’s good, coaches have been good – that’s just all I have wanted. ”
Book talked a lot about the quarterback space, of which he is now a part.
“I do not know about a particular moment – but every day just the quarterback team with Jameis and Taysom and Trevor,” said Book. “Only I am an adult and have seen them all play before. And just to be in the room with them, it’s a special group of guys who really help me learn. ”
• ESPN’s Marcus Spears is one Jameis Winston believer.
Spears recently said he believes the Saints will be a playoff team with Winston, Bucs’ former No. 1 pick in 2015, at the center.
“I expect the Saints to get to the playoffs and I expect him not to turn the ball around much.”
Spears believes the year Drew Brees observes will pay dividends for Winston in 2021.
“He just needed to digest the game without having to play it,” Spears said. “When you are first taken together and have to play right away, you learn on the go and never get to sit back and learn the game the right way.”