Around the NFC South

September, 4, 2012
9/04/12
9:51
AM ET
Let's take a run through the Tuesday morning headlines from around the NFC South:

ATLANTA FALCONS

Although former Atlanta fullback Ovie Mughelli was released by the Rams, general manager Thomas Dimitroff made it sound like the Falcons will stick with Lousaka Polite as the only true fullback on their roster. Running back Jason Snelling also can play fullback.

Atlanta receivers coach Terry Robiskie, like many around the league, believes it takes a young wide receiver three years to fully develop. But there are strong signs that Julio Jones is ahead of the curve. He had a good rookie season, despite injuries and has been outstanding in the preseason. Of all the players I saw in my tour of NFC South training camps, none stood out more than Jones. Also, keep in mind, he had a full offseason program this year. That’s something he lacked as a rookie, due to the lockout.

CAROLINA PANTHERS

The team will practice one more time at home before turning Bank of America Stadium over to the Democratic National Convention. The Panthers will leave for Florida on Tuesday afternoon and spend the rest of the week working out at IMG Academies in Bradenton before playing the Buccaneers in Tampa Bay on Sunday.

Rookie cornerback Josh Norman was honored by Coastal Carolina on Saturday. More importantly, Norman shed some light on what his role will be with the Panthers. Norman said he’s been told he’ll play outside on passing situations. That means the team will be able to move Captain Munnerlyn inside on passing situations, which is what the coaching staff has wanted to do all along.

NEW ORLEANS SAINTS

Middle linebacker Curtis Lofton, who has been out with an injury, said he’ll be ready to play Sunday against Washington. Same for wide receiver Adrian Arrington. Linebacker David Hawthorne, who had surgery to fix a torn meniscus, wasn’t so sure. He said that decision will be up to the trainers. I’m thinking Hawthorne may have to sit an extra week or two. But if the Saints have Lofton on the field for opening day, their linebacker corps will be a lot better than it was in the final weeks of the preseason.

More good news for the Saints on the injury front. Cornerback Jabari Greer, who had surgery to fix a sports hernia in August, said he’ll be ready to go Sunday.

Rookie receiver Nick Toon, who already was placed on injured reserve, is expected to have surgery on his left foot. That’s the same foot Toon had surgery on before his final season at Wisconsin.

TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS

Defensive tackle Amobi Okoye who was released by the Bucs on Friday and signed by the Bears, said he left questioning the character of coach Greg Schiano. Okoye implied he was told his injured knee would be allowed to heal and, when it wasn’t coming along quickly enough, he was pushed to the door.

Newly-acquired running back D.J. Ware thinks Tampa Bay’s Mike Sullivan is ready to be a successful offensive coordinator. The two were together with the New York Giants and won two Super Bowls.

Pat Yasinskas | email

ESPN Tampa Bay Buccaneers reporter

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