NFC South evening update

September, 26, 2012
9/26/12
6:43
PM ET
Let's take a look at the day's biggest headlines from around the NFC South:

TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS

Coach Greg Schiano said he wants to have more of a 1-2 punch with running backs Doug Martin and LeGarrette Blount. As we pointed out Tuesday, Martin has been on the field for 140 of Tampa Bay’s 177 offensive plays, while Blount, the starter most of the last two seasons, has participated in only 12 plays. Martin’s not about to lose the starting job, but it does make sense to get Blount more involved. He’s a big, physical back and rotating him in from time to time could cause some matchup issues for defenses.

With defensive end Adrian Clayborn lost with a season-ending injury, Daniel Te’o-Nesheim said he embraces a chance at a starting role. He should. This was a guy that was a third-round pick by Philadelphia in 2010 and now is his chance to prove he wasn’t a bust.

NEW ORLEANS SAINTS

This news doesn’t bode well for the Saints as they prepare to head to Lambeau Field. Their defense is banged up. Linebackers David Hawthorne and Jonathan Casillas and defensive end Turk McBride were held out of practice due to injuries on Wednesday.

The Saints have talked a fair amount about how it’s going to take time to master coordinator Steve Spagnuolo’s defensive system. Gerry V asks if it’s really necessary to make a defense so complicated. I’m not so sure Spagnuolo’s defense really is that complicated. I think the bigger problem is that the Saints don’t have the type of personnel in the front four to really make this defensive scheme work. That’s something that should have been addressed in the offseason.

CAROLINA PANTHERS

There’s been a lot of hoopla about wide receiver Steve Smith saying he “lit into’’ Cam Newton when the quarterback was sulking on the sideline near the end of last week’s loss to the New York Giants. On Wednesday, Newton said he has no problem with Smith and looks upon the receiver as a “big brother." That’s a good thing. Newton could use a little guidance right now. Say what you want about Smith, but the man wants to win and he wants Newton to help accomplish that.

Smith, on the other hand, says he regrets telling the media about the incident. I don’t see anything wrong with what Smith making it public. But, then again, I’m part of the media, so I’m all for open-door policies.

ATLANTA FALCONS

Zeke Trezevant explains what sparked tight end Tony Gonzalez’s big day in San Diego. It’s pretty simple. The Falcons were using their safeties on receivers Roddy White and Julio Jones much of the game. That left linebackers trying to cover Gonzalez and that’s a mismatch.

Mike Sando has Matt Ryan at the top of his MVP Watch. Can’t argue with that. It’s only three weeks into the season, but I don’t see anyone else in the league that’s started off as well as Ryan.

Pat Yasinskas | email

ESPN Tampa Bay Buccaneers reporter

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