Let's take a run through some of the latest headlines from around the division:
Linebacker Sean Weatherspoon did not practice Wednesday. But, in this radio interview, Weatherspoon said his injured ankle is progressing. That’s encouraging for the Falcons, who will need the guy that’s probably their best defensive player if they’re going to stay undefeated when they play Dallas on Sunday night.
Coach Mike Smith talked about the importance of having a good locker room and players having fun. There’s little doubt Atlanta’s locker room is a happy place with the Falcons undefeated. Ironically, I’ll have a column Thursday that talks about how this hasn’t been a fun season across most of the rest of the NFC South and how chemistry might be playing some role in that.
Running back DeAngelo Williams, who has been at the center of a lot of speculation with the trade deadline coming Thursday, said he’s never thought about leaving the Panthers. Coach Ron Rivera said the team isn’t actively shopping anyone, but didn’t rule out the possibility of trading any player. I still think it’s a long shot that another team will want to take on Williams’ contract, but it would take only one team desperate for help at running back to change that.
NEW ORLEANS SAINTS
Philadelphia coach Andy Reid said Michael Vick will remain Philadelphia’s starting quarterback when the Eagles play the Saints on Monday night. If going against the New Orleans defense doesn’t make Vick look better than he has in recent games, nothing will.
TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS
Coach Greg Schiano said the Bucs are exploring all possibilities as they try to replace left guard Carl Nicks, who went on injured reserve Tuesday. The Bucs have a number of options, including backup guard Ted Larsen and backup tackle Jeremy Trueblood, who opened the season as starters. It’s also possible the Bucs could use Larsen or Cody Wallace at center and slide Jeremy Zuttah back to guard, a position he played earlier in his career.
Schiano also explained why the Bucs reached the decision to end Nicks’ season. Nicks had a toe injury that kept getting worse in recent weeks and Schiano said it reached a point where it became “unsafe." It’s a brutal blow to the Bucs to lose Nicks for the rest of the season, but it’s better for the franchise in the long run if Nicks has surgery now and returns at full strength next season.