- Pat Yasinskas, ESPN Staff Writer
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Time for a Wednesday morning run through the headlines from around the NFC South:
Outside linebacker Sean Weatherspoon had some praise for second-year middle linebacker Akeem Dent. In the game before the bye, a win against Oakland, Dent participated in every play. Prior to that, Dent had been used only as a part-time player. But an injury to Stephen Nicholas prompted the Falcons to pair Dent with Weatherspoon as every-down linebackers. I think the move was only temporary and Nicholas should be back in the lineup Sunday. Dent wasn’t perfect against the Raiders, but he did some good things and got some valuable experience.
With general manager Marty Hurney gone, it doesn’t sound like the Panthers will have a successor in place anytime soon. Coach Ron Rivera will have final say on personnel matters in the meantime. But I think it’s pretty obvious there will be a lot more changes in the management structure in Carolina after the season and Rivera is clearly on the hot seat.
NEW ORLEANS SAINTS
In his weekly film study, Mike Triplett breaks down the performance of Drew Brees against Tampa Bay. There’s no doubt Brees was masterful. But it’s important to note that New Orleans’ offensive line did a great job giving the quarterback time to throw. Well, that and the fact that Tampa Bay used a lot of three-man rushes, which resulted in almost no pressure on Brees.
TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS
With a Thursday night game at Minnesota, the Bucs have made major alterations to their schedule. They barely practiced because there wasn’t much time for it. That’s not ideal, but it comes with the territory when you’ve got a short week. Besides, practice isn’t the most important thing this time of year. The Bucs put in time watching the Vikings on film and having meetings to go over the game plan. Under the circumstances, the Bucs probably accomplished more in the meeting rooms than they could have on the practice field.
General manager Mark Dominik said he spoke with the NFL’s director of officials about the unsportsmanlike-conduct penalty as New Orleans lined up for a field goal. Dominik said he was told Tampa Bay’s defensive shift and movement by Mason Foster were legal, but he said he was told the penalty was called because an official said he heard members of the Bucs verbally attempting to simulate the snap count.