Let's take a run through the top headlines from around the division:
Running back Josh Vaughn has been signed to the practice squad. He’s sort of an NFC South veteran, having previously spent time with Carolina and Tampa Bay. To make room for Vaughn, the Falcons released safety Mark LeGree from the practice squad.
The Falcons worked out defensive backs Marlin Jackson and Syd’quan Thompson on Tuesday. Neither was signed. The Falcons, like a lot of other teams, like to do their homework and take a look at players at various positions to keep an emergency list of who is available.
As we pointed out earlier, the Falcons lead the NFL in points scored on first possessions this season (and since 2008). But there’s a flip side to this that’s not a good omen for the Panthers. Carolina is the only team in the league to allow the opposing offense to score a touchdown on its opening drive in each game this season.
Lots of NFL players have spoken out about the replacement officials. Now, here’s a twist. NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. has weighed in on the topic. He tells Scott Fowler the damage at the start of the season has been irreparable and it’s time to bring back the regular officials.
NEW ORLEANS SAINTS
Veteran receiver Greg Camarillo has been released to clear a roster spot for linebacker Ramon Humber, who served a three-game suspension for violating the NFL’s substance-abuse policy.
Running back Pierre Thomas said the Saints have to forget the past three games and start over. That’s not a bad idea. The Saints still have plenty of talent and you have to believe the swagger they’ve played with the last few seasons is still somewhere in their locker room. If they want to save their season, they better find it quickly.
TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS
Scott Reynolds points out that rookie running back Doug Martin has yet to break off any long runs. Maybe part of the blame for this falls on Martin. But I think this might have more to do with the fact the Bucs are breaking in two new starters (Demar Dotson and Ted Larsen) on the offensive line and the play calling hasn’t shown many creative ways to get Martin outside and into space, where he can use his quickness.
With defensive end Adrian Clayborn lost to injury for the season, the two leading candidates to take over his starting job are George Johnson and Daniel Te’o-Neshiem, who have combined for two NFL starts and one sack. The Bucs also could sign another defensive end for depth.