- Pat Yasinskas, ESPN Staff Writer
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As we get ready for the Thursday night game between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Minnesota Vikings, let’s take a look at the news of the day from around the rest of the division.
Wide receiver Harry Douglas (knee/ankle) missed his second straight day of practice Thursday. If Douglas can’t play Sunday, the Falcons will have to turn to either Drew Davis or Kevin Cone (or a combination of the two) as their third receiver. Both are untested.
Daniel Cox makes a good point about how fast starts by the Falcons have disappeared in recent weeks. The Falcons scored on their opening drive in each of the first three games. But they haven’t done that in their last three outings.
Veterans Jordan Gross and Steve Smith said they agree with fired general manager Marty Hurney’s assertion that the Panthers need more leaders to step up. I think those might be the last two guys on the roster Hurney was referencing. In different ways, Gross and Smith have been strong leaders for a long time. I think Hurney was talking about a lot of other players and I don’t solely mean quarterback Cam Newton.
The Panthers are shifting Byron Bell back to right tackle, after he played guard last week and plan to start Jeff Byers at guard. Joseph Person writes that may be an indication that the Panthers plan to switch to more of a power running game. Might as well try switching things up because this offense clearly has not been clicking.
Defensive end Charles Johnson left Thursday’s practice with a hip injury. But coach Ron Rivera said the injury doesn’t appear to be anything serious.
NEW ORLEANS SAINTS
Check out this photo of a New Orleans fan wearing a “Free Sean Payton’’ shirt while posing for a picture with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell. The fan unveiled the shirt at the last moment at the end of a town-hall meeting Goodell had with fans. An NFL spokesman said Goodell laughed and thought the incident was funny.
Wide receiver Joe Morgan (chest) and tight end Daniel Graham (ankle) have been declared out for Sunday’s game at Denver. The good news is it appears as if starting tight end Jimmy Graham is on the path to returning after missing a game with an ankle injury. Don’t be surprised if the Saints re-sign receiver Greg Camarillo to help fill Morgan’s spot.