With two big NFC South games -- Carolina at Atlanta and Tampa Bay at New Orleans -- coming up Sunday, let's take a look at the injuries of significance.
Buccaneers. Although Tampa Bay has a slew of guys on injured reserve, the current roster is relatively healthy. Fullback Earnest Graham (neck) was the only player not participating fully in Thursday’s practice, and I wouldn’t expect to see him in Sunday’s game. Right tackle James Lee (ankle) participated fully for the second straight day, and the Bucs likely will have to choose between a healthy Lee and a healthy Jeremy Trueblood as the starter. Lee moved into the lineup earlier in the year when Trueblood was injured. He played well and wound up starting ahead of Trueblood until Lee was injured.
Saints. New Orleans listed 12 guys on the injury report, but we’ll knock the number down a bit. Receiver Courtney Roby was placed on injured reserve Thursday and six of the other guys on the list participate fully in Thursday’s practice. So let’s just focus on the five guys who didn’t practice at all – wide receiver Marques Colston (knee), defensive tackle Anthony Hargrove (knee), tight end Jeremy Shockey (groin), tight end David Thomas (knee) and linebacker Anthony Waters (ankle). The most significant thing here is that coach Sean Payton said Colston had arthroscopic surgery Tuesday to clean out some “loose bodies’’ in his knee. Payton said he’s not ruling Colston out for Sunday. As strange as that might sound, it’s not out of the realm of possibility. There have been many cases of athletes returning within days of minor surgery. But you have to think the Saints, who already have clinched a playoff berth, might rest Colston just to be safe. They’re very deep at receiver, and they activated receiver Adrian Arrington off the practice squad today.
Falcons. Defensive tackle Jonathan Babineaux (shoulder) might be the most significant name on the list. Babineaux did not participate in Thursday’s practice. Receiver Roddy White (knee), center Todd McClure (ankle) and linebacker Curtis Lofton (knee) also sat out, but it’s not been unusual in recent weeks for any of those three to get a day off from practice. Defensive end John Abraham (groin) was limited in practice, but the veteran often gets days off or practices where he goes lightly.
Panthers. Fullback Tony Fiammetta (ankle) and cornerback Chris Gamble (ankle) were the most significant players who did not practice. Receiver Steve Smith was added to the report with a calf strain and took part in practice on a limited basis.