- Pat Yasinskas, ESPN Staff Writer
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Time for a run through the Tuesday morning headlines from around the NFC South:
Outside linebacker Stephen Nicholas suffered an ankle injury at Washington and his status for Sunday’s Oakland game remains unclear. Nicholas and fellow outside linebacker Sean Weatherspoon have been getting the majority of the playing time. But the Falcons have been leaving middle linebacker Akeem Dent on the field a little more in recent games. Robert James and veteran Mike Peterson also can play the outside.
Defensive tackle Corey Peters has been on the physically unable to perform list with an injury to his foot. The window for him to be eligible to begin practicing comes open next week. Once Peters begins practicing, the Falcons have a three-week window to decide if they want to activate him. Peria Jerry opened the season in Peters’ place and played well at first. But the Falcons have turned more to Vance Walker in recent weeks.
Even Cecil Newton Sr., the father of quarterback Cam Newton, said his son needs to change his demeanor when dealing with adversity. The father agrees that Cam may be pressing too hard, but says he’ll be back strong after the bye.
Jon Beason said he plans to return to middle linebacker after the bye. Rookie Luke Kuechly played well in the middle while Beason was out with an injury in Sunday’s loss to Seattle. Kuechly played the first four games on the outside, but played in the middle in college.
Here’s a new one: Running back DeAngelo Williams took to Twitter to fire back at fantasy owners that are upset with his lack of production. First off, I’m more than a little amazed that, as a professional athlete, Williams has the time to sit around and read what people are saying about him on Twitter. Doesn’t he have more important things to do with his time? Second, I wouldn’t put the blame on Williams for not putting up major numbers. I’d place it on Carolina’s coaching staff, which seems to have no idea how to get maximum production out of its talented backfield.
NEW ORLEANS SAINTS
Veteran linebacker Barrett Ruud was released and cornerback Elbert Mack was re-signed. Ruud, who once was a very productive player in Tampa Bay, was added at the end of the preseason when the Saints had a bunch of injuries at linebacker. But Ruud, who has been slowed by injuries and age in recent years, never made an impact and was limited to duty on special teams.
Bradley Handwerger writes that the Saints got some of their swagger back in Sunday night’s victory. Steve Spagnuolo’s defense suddenly became more aggressive. The defense needs to keep playing that way and the swagger needs to stay if the Saints are going to have any chance of climbing back into the playoff picture.
TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS
Cornerback Anthony Gaitor, who missed the first four games with an injury, has returned to practice. Gaitor’s return could make it difficult for Myron Lewis or Leonard Johnson to stay on the roster.
Dory LeBlanc writes that recently-acquired Nate Byham could give the Bucs a true blocking tight end. That’s not the strength of Dallas Clark and Luke Stocker and Byham’s presence could help open holes in a running game that hasn’t been very explosive so far.