NFC South afternoon update

August, 23, 2012
8/23/12
5:50
PM ET
It’s time for our afternoon look at what’s going on across the NFC South:

TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS

The Bucs have rearranged their locker room so that players are no longer surrounded by their position group. Coach Greg Schiano wouldn’t go into a lengthy explanation. But I think you can read between the lines with one example -- LeGarrette Blount's locker is now next to Ronde Barber's. I think it’s fair to say that Blount’s a guy that hasn’t always been completely focused, while Barber’s a veteran with a reputation for being a dedicated professional. It’s pretty obvious the Bucs are hoping some of Barber will wear off on Blount.

The first wave of roster cuts (to 75 players) don’t have to come until Monday. But the Bucs went ahead and released three of their undrafted free agents.

Although he’s only practiced three times since being claimed off waivers, receiver Jordan Shipley is expected to get some playing time in Friday night’s preseason game. The Bucs might as well throw Shipley out there and see what he’s got because they’re going to have to be making more roster decisions pretty quickly.

ATLANTA FALCONS

Mark Bradley looks at the Falcons schedule and projects how they’ll fare in the regular season. He has them going 12-4 and winning the NFC South. It’s at least possible. One thing to note -- Bradley has the Falcons going 6-0 against division opponents.

Safety Shann Schillinger will miss the preseason game with the Dolphins due to a foot injury. This is somewhat significant because Schillinger seemingly is in a battle with rookie Charles Mitchell for the final safety spot.

NEW ORLEANS SAINTS

Running back Mark Ingram said he doesn’t think that his development has been hurt as the Saints have limited his practice time during the preseason. Ingram said he still does mental reps during practices. The Saints have been cautious with Ingram because he dealt with several injuries as a rookie last year. I think the goal is to just make sure Ingram is totally healthy for the start of the season.

Special teams coordinator Greg McMahon said the kicking battle between Garrett Hartley and John Kasay will go right down to the wire. This is one of the best kicking battles I’ve ever seen because it features two guys who have made some very big kicks. Whichever one loses out in New Orleans will end up kicking for someone else this season.

CAROLINA PANTHERS

Coach Ron Rivera said receiver Steve Smith’s injured foot is improving, but the team will be cautious on when he returns to the field. That’s the only way to go on this one. Smith’s a veteran and doesn’t need preseason games to prove anything.

Pat Yasinskas | email

ESPN Tampa Bay Buccaneers reporter

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