Time for a Monday evening look at the biggest headlines from around the NFC South.
Coach Mike Smith said backup tight end Michael Palmer will miss Sunday’s game with Carolina due to a shoulder injury. The Falcons have starter Tony Gonzalez, but don’t like to overload him with blocking duties. Tommy Gallarda is likely to take on a role as a blocker. The Falcons also may consider activating Chase Coffman off their practice squad.
Coach Ron Rivera said he wished wide receiver Steve Smith had not told the media about getting on Cam Newton when the quarterback was sulking at the end of Thursday night’s loss to the Giants. I understand that what happens between teammates should stay between them. But I don’t have any big problem with Smith acting as a veteran leader. Newton made a big deal in the offseason about saying he wanted to be a better teammate. Smith has had his own ups and downs, but he’s dealt with them. If Smith sees a quarterback with his head wrapped in a towel in the final minutes, he has every right to get on him.
NEW ORLEANS SAINTS
Defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo said rookie defensive tackle Akiem Hicks will start to get more playing time. Not a bad idea. Hicks has looked good in limited action and I don’t know that Sedrick Ellis has a real bright future with the Saints.
Quarterback Drew Brees insists the Saints will turn their season around after an 0-3 start. That’s still possible, but the Saints have very little margin for error if they want to make a serious bid for the playoffs.
TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS
With defensive end Adrian Clayborn done for the season after suffering a knee injury Sunday, there still is some hope Da’Quan Bowers could return later this season. Bowers tore his Achilles tendon in the offseason and is on the physically unable to perform list. Bowers spoke briefly to the media on Monday and talked about his rehabilitation without going into any detail about a time line for his return. But team officials previously have expressed optimism that Bowers might be able to start practicing when he’s eligible in Week 6.