Time for a Monday morning look at the headlines from around the NFC South:
Through two preseason games, Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan has yet to be sacked. That’s highly encouraging because improving the pass blocking has been one of the most important goals of the offseason. Ryan was pressured too much last year and often did not have enough time to make the down-field throws the Falcons wanted.
The Falcons have ended the training camp portion of their preseason. They’ll remain on a similar practice schedule for the remainder of the preseason, but players get to go home at night.
Little by little we keep finding out about all the plans the Panthers have for fullback/running back Mike Tolbert. In addition to have him blocking, running and catching passes out of the backfield, coach Ron Rivera said Tolbert can do some of the same things that tight end Jeremy Shockey did last season. Shockey has not been re-signed. I’m not sure you’ll see Tolbert lined up at tight end a lot, but I think you could see him picking up some of Shockey’s blocking duties to make the load a little lighter for tight end Greg Olsen.
After starters Steve Smith and Brandon LaFell, the competition for the backup receiver jobs remains strong. Louis Murphy, Seyi Ajirotutu and Kealoha Pilares all looked good in Friday night’s preseason game. The Panthers also are hoping David Gettis can get healthy and be a factor.
NEW ORLEANS SAINTS
After running into all sorts of injury troubles at wide receiver, the New Orleans Saints reportedly have added veteran receiver Greg Camarillo. Nick Toon, Adrian Arrington and Andy Tanner, who were in contention for the final roster spots at receiver, have been injured.
Jeff Duncan writes that offensive line coach Aaron Kromer is the favorite to take over as the temporary coach when Joe Vitt begins his six-game suspension at the start of the season. I agree that’s the logical choice. Defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo or offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael also could do the job, but it makes the most sense to elevate Kromer and let the two coordinators continue to focus on their side of the ball.
TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS
Apparently the Bucs are using a rose-colored lens in their projector because coach Greg Schiano said he saw some positives in Friday’s 30-7 preseason loss to Tennessee.
Defensive tackle Roy Miller may be in the best shape of his career from a physical standpoint. He’s healthy after dealing with injuries last year. More importantly, the Bucs might be using him properly. Miller will be used as a tilted nose tackle, which should allow him to maximize his strength. This is a huge year for Miller and fellow defensive tackle Gerald McCoy. If they can play well, the interior of Tampa Bay’s defensive line could turn into a strength.