Panthers coach Rhule: Falcons are ‘buying in’ under Morris

Carolina coach Matt Rhule has the Panthers off to a surprising start and third place in the NFC South.

The Falcons (1-6) play the Panthers (3-4) at 8:20 p.m. Thursday at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte.

Here’s what Rhule had to say to the Atlanta media on Tuesday:

Q: In studying the Falcons, have they been doing anything differently in the past two games under coach Raheem Morris?

A: “I think obviously a lot of the DNA is the same. I think they are doing some different things. I think obviously with Julio playing, we think he’s played great. We know it’s going to be a heck of battle and coach Morris, he’s putting his stamp on it. It looks like the guys are buying in and doing a great job.”

Q: Any update on All-Pro running back Christian McCaffrey?

A: “He got out there and practiced today. So, we’re hopeful that he’ll be able to play soon. They’ll look at him and see how he feels tomorrow and see if it’s this week that we can get him out there.”

Q: How has wide receiver D.J. Moore developed as a big playmaker? He had a long one against the Falcons and a 74-yard touchdown reception last week against the Saints.

A: “D.J. is doing a great job. He’s got elite speed and he’s got great ball skills. I think the thing that is happening is that Robby (Anderson) is having a great year. Curtis Samuels is doing a great job. Really, those three guys compliment each other. For Teddy (Bridgewater) to add the deep ball to his game is something that will really help us.”

Q: Did you and (offensive coordinator) Joe Brady sense that there was another level to Teddy’s game that he could reach?

A: “We brought Teddy here because we believed that he’s the quarterback that everybody sees and more. We watched the tape. We went back to Minnesota. We talked about who he is as a person. We were convinced that he was the right guy. So, none of this is surprising us one bit.”

Q: Brian Burns had another sack. He had a big play against Atlanta. What have you seen from his development coming off the edge for you guys?

A: “He’s becoming a dominant pass rusher. The thing that I love is that he’s also trying to turn himself into an every-down player. I think that’s the secret sauce there. When you can be a great pass rusher and still play the run, you can be one of the special ones. Brian has all of the tools. He’s got the right mindset. He’s seeing some of the fruits of his labor right now.”

Q: When you are preparing for a team for a second time, do you generally try to follow the same blueprint that led to success in general terms? Or, is there some new wrinkles that you save for the second meeting?

A: “I think it’s a mixture of both. I think in the first game there are probably plays each side of the ball probably didn’t get to. I think you come out of the game and you say, ‘hey, I would do this the same. I would do this differently.’ You also recognize that their team is evolving. We’re evolving. So, it’s a mixture of what we did the first time. What happened in the game and the two games for each team since.”

Falcons' next four games

Falcons at Panthers at 8:20 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 29

Broncos at Falcons at 1 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 8

Bye Week

Falcons at Saints at 1 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 22

Las Vegas Raiders at Falcons at 1 p.m., Sunday, Nov. 29

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