- Pat Yasinskas, ESPN Staff Writer
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METAIRIE, La. – I’m about to head over to the Saints’ facility to get ready for the first practice of training camp.
It doesn’t start until 5 p.m. ET, but I’m expecting a packed media room and want to make sure I get enough space to plug in my computer. Meantime, we’ve got lots of stuff going on around the NFC South as teams get ready for camps. Let’s take a quick look.
A hearing on an injunction to stop the season-long suspension of New Orleans linebacker Jonathan Vilma is going on right now. Vilma is done testifying and strongly denied he ever took part in a pay-to-injure program. Some of his current and former teammates are expected to testify as the hearing continues.
D. Orlando Ledbetter has his updated depth chart for the Falcons. He’s got Akeem Dent as the No. 1 middle linebacker, now that Lofa Tatupu has been released after suffering a season-ending injury. I think the way he lists the first-team offensive line is accurate as camp starts, but I think there could be multiple changes as the preseason goes on. I think there’s a good chance rookie guard Peter Konz is in the starting lineup by opening day.
The Panthers have released running back Armand Smith and are expected to fill his roster spot with linebacker David Nixon. Makes sense because the Panthers already have more than enough depth at running back. They could use a little more depth at linebacker and a body for special teams. Nixon has experience at both linebacker and on special teams.
Tampa Bay left tackle Donald Penn is expected to miss several weeks of camp with a strained calf muscle. This is an important camp for all the Bucs because they have a new coaching staff and are installing new offensive and defensive schemes. But I don’t think it’s catastrophic that Penn will miss a few weeks. He’s a veteran guy and should already have a good idea from offseason workouts about any changes in the blocking schemes. As long as Penn is fully healthy for the start of the regular season, this shouldn’t be a big deal.