NFL training camp 2019: NFC South preview

By Sports Desk July 17, 2019

The NFC South had its fair share of issues and controversies last season, which could be the chips on shoulders to drive teams to fight for a Super Bowl this time around.

Clearly, the New Orleans Saints are still stinging from that no-call against the Los Angeles Rams in the NFC Championship. But also, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers lacked discipline, the Carolina Panthers imploded in the middle of the season and the Atlanta Falcons' litany of injuries caused them to finish the year as average as a dry toast.

However, it's a new campaign and NFC South teams have the talent to get far in the playoffs. Drew Brees looks as healthy as ever at 40 and has a steady offense under him in New Orleans, while the Bucs have a new coach in Bruce Arians to freshen things up.

The Falcons have to be healthier this year and can count on the return of safeties Keanu Neal and Ricardo Allen, while the Panthers' receiving corps should be solid with a refreshed Greg Olsen and free agent acquisition Chris Hogan.

Here is what to expect from the NFC South in 2019:



Atlanta Falcons

Last season was a disaster for the Falcons. The team was plagued by injuries, especially along the offensive line, which made quarterback Matt Ryan an easy target (he was sacked a whopping 42 times).

This season, most of the injured starters are back, and if the team can remain healthy, they can match the pace the Saints have set in the division.

On the defensive side of the ball, Grady Jarrett just came to terms on a new deal and Deion Jones has returned from a foot injury. The Falcons also re-signed Adrian Clayborn, who sacked Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott six times in 2017 but spent last season with the New England Patriots.

Barring any injury setbacks, a healthy Falcons team could get back to their 2016 level, when they won the NFC.


Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Yeah, yeah. This one seems too easy. Despite getting an elite coach in Arians, there are still some issues with the Bucs that are too much to overlook.

Quarterback Jameis Winston is a key factor – the 25-year-old has been plagued with off-field issues and inconsistent play that saw him benched last season for Ryan Fitzpatrick.

Many think Arians can fix Winston, but Winston has barely improved during his time in the league.

Combined with poor defensive play and subpar safeties, Arians might need a couple of years to rebuild this team.


Erik McCoy, C, Saints: New Orleans traded up to get McCoy in the second round of the draft, with the team wanting to bolster an offensive line that was top-tier last season. Unless McCoy struggles in training camp and preseason or gets injured, he's expected to be a starter and make an immediate impact. He's already impressed at OTAs and received a lot of first-team reps. He could anchor a line that will make it difficult for any defense to get to Brees.

Devin White, LB, Buccaneers: White was selected with the fifth overall pick, and the Bucs hope he can help begin to solve their defensive woes (27th overall in 2018). White has speed and agility, evidenced during his time at LSU. Could he hold the key to making the Bucs a formidable defense? He will work under Todd Bowles, who joined Tampa Bay as the defensive coordinator and is known for his love of blitzing. The Buccaneers will likely hit the ground running with White and use his talents starting in Week 1.


Christian McCaffrey

McCaffrey impressed in his second NFL season (1,098 yards rushing, 867 yards receiving, 13 TDs), and there's no reason he won't be poised for success again this year. He has also become the team's primary back, with Cameron Artis-Payne and Elijah Hood being re-signed as cover and the team drafting Jordan Scarlett and signing the undrafted Elijah Holyfield. McCaffrey will need his backups' help to ensure his health, but expect him to surpass 2,000 combined yards this season.


Cam Newton, shoulder: The Panthers quarterback was shut down at the end of last year because of a nagging shoulder injury and underwent surgery in the offseason. He's altered how he throws to keep his shoulder healthy and hasn't participated in minicamps as he continues rehab. Will Newton look like his old self by the end of training camp, when the regular season rolls around?

Marcus Davenport, toe: The Saints defensive end's rookie season was derailed by a toe injury, and he later admitted he never fully recovered. Flash forward to 2019. Davenport is expected to complement Cam Jordan in the Saints' pass-rush scheme. He's had a full offseason for his toe to recover from a procedure and the heat is on for him to help turn the Saints defense, 14th overall in 2018, into something more formidable.

Related items

  • Saints deny trying to hide e-mails to New Orleans Archdiocese in relation to abuse claims Saints deny trying to hide e-mails to New Orleans Archdiocese in relation to abuse claims

    The New Orleans Saints accept they offered advice to the city's Archdiocese on how best to handle public relations for litigation on claims of sexual abuse made against members of its clergy, but refute suggestions they have tried to conceal information. 

    Reports emerged on Friday that attorneys for around two dozen men suing the church accused the NFL franchise of aiding the Archdiocese of New Orleans to conceal alleged crimes from members of its clergy.

    The Saints responded to those accusations via a team statement, insisting they are "offended, disappointed and repulsed by the actions of certain past clergy" and explained they advised the Archdiocese to be transparent in its approach.

    "While there is current litigation relative to the New Orleans Archdiocese and clergy sex abuse, our comments are limited only to the scope of our involvement," the statement read. 

    "The New Orleans Saints organisation has always had a very strong relationship with the Archdiocese. 

    "The Archdiocese reached out to a number of community and civic minded leaders seeking counsel on handling the pending media attention that would come with the release of the clergy names in November of 2018. 

    "Greg Bensel, senior vice president of communications for the New Orleans Saints, was contacted and offered input on how to work with the media. The advice was simple and never wavering. Be direct, open and fully transparent, while making sure that all law enforcement agencies were alerted. 

    "The New Orleans Saints, Greg Bensel and (owner) Mrs. Gayle Benson were and remain offended, disappointed and repulsed by the actions of certain past clergy. We remain steadfast in support of the victims who have suffered and pray for their continued healing."

    The reports claimed the Saints are trying to take action to shield more than 200 e-mails, but the team insisted they are not attempting to conceal information.

    "Further, the Saints have no interest in concealing information from the press or public," the statement added. 

    "At the current discovery stage in the case of Doe v. Archdiocese, the Saints, through their counsel, have merely requested the court to apply the normal rules of civil discovery to the documents that the Saints produced and delivered to Mr. Doe's counsel. 

    "Until the documents are admitted into evidence at a public trial or hearing in the context of relevant testimony by persons having knowledge of the documents and the events to which they pertain, the use of the documents should be limited to the parties to the case and their attorneys. 

    "If admitted into evidence of the case, the documents and the testimony pertaining to them will become part of the public record of the trial of the case."

  • It was important for me to bow out as a Giant - Manning 'at peace' with retirement decision It was important for me to bow out as a Giant - Manning 'at peace' with retirement decision

    Eli Manning says he is "at peace" with his decision to retire as he had no plans to represent anyone other than the New York Giants.

    The Giants confirmed on Wednesday that the two-time Super Bowl-winning quarterback would retire from the NFL, ending a 16-year spell with the team.

    Manning joined the Giants in a controversial draft-day trade after being selected by the San Diego Chargers in 2004 and led them to Super Bowl success in 2007 and 2011, both victories coming against the New England Patriots.

    Plans are in place to retire Manning's number 10 jersey and the 39-year-old has not ruled out returning to the MetLife Stadium in a coaching capacity, but first he wants time to reflect on his career.

    "I'll take some time just to figure out how I want to spend these next years first," he said at Friday's retirement press conference.

    "This sport has very few real farewells. It's impossible to explain the satisfaction, and actually the joy, I've experienced being a Giant.

    "From the very first moment, I did it my way. I couldn't be someone other than who I am. 

    "Undoubtedly I would've made the fans, the media and even the front office more comfortable if I was a more rah-rah guy. 

    "But that's not me. Ultimately I choose to believe that my team-mates and the fans learned to appreciate that. They knew what they got was pure unadulterated Eli."

    Manning split opinion throughout his career and bows out with 57,023 passing yards, 366 touchdowns and 244 interceptions.

    Asked why now was the right time to announce his retirement, he added: "It was important for me to retire as a Giant. It was the right decision. 

    "I know it is and I'm at peace with it. I think that's what has made this day a little bit easier.

    "Wellington Mara used to say, 'Once a Giant, always a Giant.' For me, it's only a giant."

    Giants co-owner John Mara also spoke at Friday's ceremony and confirmed Manning will be inducted into their Ring of Honor next season.

    "This is certainly a day of very mixed emotions for us," he said. "It's sad in one sense because we're seeing the end of an incredible playing career and saying goodbye to someone who has been everything you could ask a player to be both on and off the field for the last 16 years. 

    "Yet we're also very happy to that we get to be here to celebrate that incredible career and we're also able to witness one of the greatest players in franchise history be able to leave the game on his own terms, having played his whole career with the Giants, something that doesn't always happen in this business.

    "If anybody deserved that opportunity it's Eli Manning. The last 16 years Eli has meant so much to all of us here with the giants and our fans. 

    "We all know about the two Super Bowl MVPs and all of the great performances on the field, but just as important was the way he conducted himself on and off the field as the consummate professional, always with dignity always with class."

  • Arrest warrant issued for Antonio Brown Arrest warrant issued for Antonio Brown

    Antonio Brown remained wanted by police in the United States on Thursday on charges of burglary with battery and criminal mischief.

    The former NFL star, who has been without a team since his release by the New England Patriots in September last year, was being sought after allegations made against him late on Tuesday.

    The Florida-based Hollywood Police Department issued a statement that said: "On January 21, 2020 at approximately 9:30pm, an arrest warrant was issued for Mr Antonio Brown who has been charged with one count of burglary with battery, one count burglary of an unoccupied conveyance, and one count of criminal mischief less than $1,000.

    "On January 21, 2020, at approximately 2:00 pm, officers of the Hollywood Police Department received a 911 call for a possible disturbance which occurred at 3600 Estate Oak Circle. When officers arrived on scene they made contact with the alleged victim who stated he was battered by Mr Antonio Brown and Mr Brown’s trainer, Mr Glenn Holt.

    "While on scene, officers made contact with Mr Holt who was subsequently taken into custody without incident. Mr Holt was charged with one count of burglary with battery. Officers attempted to make contact with Mr Brown but were unsuccessful."

    Wide receiver Brown has not yet commented on the allegations. CNN and other media said the property in question is 31-year-old Brown's home in South Florida.

    Police have not detailed the nature of the incident. CNN said it involved a dispute over the delivery of items to Brown's house.

    Brown, a seven-time Pro Bowler, left the Patriots amid allegations of sexual assault and rape, which he strenuously denies.

    He was traded from the Pittsburgh Steelers to the Oakland Raiders in March 2019 after a tumultuous 2018 campaign; however, Brown did not play a game for the Raiders before moving on to his brief stint with the Patriots.

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.