Fitzpatrick’s final stand in Tampa?
Atlanta Falcons: Injuries are denting the depth chart of the Falcons, and wide receiver Julio Jones was the latest casualty. Jones missed Wednesday’s practice with a calf injury, but the injury is not considered serious. Head coach Dan Quinn called Jones day-to-day, and of more concern are the potential absences against the New Orleans Saints of running back Devonta Freeman (knee) and defensive ends Takk McKinley and Derrick Shelby (groin injuries). Already down multiple starters due to injury, the latest role player to be thrust into a starting role, guard Wes Schweitzer, is stepping in for Andy Levitre, who was placed on injured reserve Monday with a triceps injury.
Carolina Panthers: Linebacker Luke Keuchly grew up 25 miles from Cinergy Field — formerly home of the Cincinnati Bengals — and dreamed of wearing a tiger-striped helmet. In high school, he was a lacrosse rival of Bengals coach Marvin Lewis’ son, Marcus. On Sunday, he’ll play a professional game against the Bengals for the second time. The previous game was a 37-37 tie in Cincinnati in 2014, and Kuechly led all players with 13 tackles. “I was a Bengals fan,” Kuechly said, recalling a game in which Corey Dillon rushed for nearly 200 yards against the Browns. Lewis said the Bengals are “still trying to clone guys like Luke Kuechly around here.”
New Orleans Saints: Lamenting a stagnant running game and other issues with his typically potent offense was not a high priority for Sean Payton on Wednesday, but he has made a call for more playmaking from Saints tight ends. Veteran Benjamin Watson has been the primary tight end this season with Josh Hill playing about 20 percent of offensive snaps. Watson has seven catches in two games. “I can play better, definitely, make more plays, do more,” Watson said. “That’s the goal. The goal is always to get better, so I definitely feel like I can get better.” Drew Brees uncharacteristically missed a wide open Watson in the end zone in the first quarter on Sunday.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Ryan Fitzpatrick is guaranteed only one more start before Jameis Winston’s suspension ends. Buccaneers coach Dirk Koetter is not planning to commit to either one until he’s required to do so; Winston can be activated Tuesday, one day after Tampa hosts the Pittsburgh Steelers on “Monday Night Football.” Fitzpatrick has nine of the team’s 10 touchdowns (one rushing) in two games and completed 78.7 percent of his passes entering Week 3, good for a passer rating of 151.5. A third stellar showing against a Steelers defense lit up for 42 points by second-year quarterback Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs last week could shift the impending decision. “Right now we’re going to start working on Pittsburgh, and that’s all that matters right now,” Koetter said. “Everything else is in the future because it could all change just like that.”
–Field Level Media
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