Hitting the NFC South links

A quick trip through the Thursday morning headlines around the NFC South.

The injury list for the Saints continues to grow. Sixteen players missed Wednesday night’s practice.

New Orleans linebacker Jonathan Vilma said he’s focused on playing for the Saints and not on recent allegations that a booster paid improper benefits to former University of Miami players.

The Falcons will hold cornerback Dunta Robinson and center Todd McClure out of Friday night’s game at Jacksonville. Robinson has a hamstring injury and the veteran McClure simply is being given some rest. As long as both players are ready to go for the regular season, this could be a plus. With Robinson out, Christopher Owens and Dominique Franks will get more playing time and they’re in a battle for the job at nickelback. Second-year pro Joe Hawley likely will get most of the work in McClure’s absence.

Carolina linebacker Thomas Davis is anxious to get into a game for the first time in 21 months after going through two major knee injuries. That will come in Friday night’s exhibition at Miami.

Bradley Handwerger writes that New Orleans rookie linebacker Nate Bussey is showing some promise on the practice field.

I’ll be back in a bit with things to watch in tonight’s game between the Buccaneers and Patriots.