- Pat Yasinskas, ESPN Staff Writer
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I just got settled back into NFC South Blog headquarters, so let’s take a run through the top headlines from around the division:
Veteran center Todd McClure said the woes in the running game aren’t all due to the five offensive linemen. He’s got a point and I don’t think McClure is pointing fingers at the tight ends. Tailback Michael Turner clearly doesn’t have the quickness he had a year or two ago. Although I really like what new offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter has done for the passing game, I don’t think he has come anywhere close to figuring out what he wants out of the running game. I don’t know what the answer there is, but Koetter better make a decision on that before the season gets too far along.
In response to some recent reports that the Panthers could be a candidate to move to Los Angeles, owner Jerry Richardson issued a statement saying that’s not going to happen and points to his deep roots in the Carolinas. Like I’ve said many times before I have a tough time letting this team leave a region he loves. But, more and more, I can’t help but wonder if Richardson, who is 76, has had health issues and fired his two sons from executive roles a few years back, wants to stay in this and own a team for the long haul.
The Panthers fired special-teams coordinator Brian Murphy on Monday. There’s no doubt the Panthers have had issues on special teams since Murphy arrived last year. But this move seems like another in a series of insulation removal. The Panthers previously fired general manager Marty Hurney. With Murphy taking the fall, offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski and defensive coordinator Sean McDermott are the only layers remaining for head coach Ron Rivera. Then again, the layers don’t mean much in this case. Unless the Panthers turn things around dramatically in a hurry, Rivera and his entire staff won’t be around after this season.
NEW ORLEANS SAINTS
The war of words between the Falcons and Saints only continues to get better. New Orleans veteran linebacker Scott Shanle said the Falcons are “like our little brothers’’. He has a point. New Orleans has won 11 of the last 13 meetings between the two teams. But Shanle’s words might have carried a little more weight if he had been active for Sunday’s game.
Interim head coach Joe Vitt was very vague about the injury cornerback Corey White sustained in Sunday’s game. The team said Sunday White suffered an injury to his left leg, but Vitt wouldn’t elaborate on if the damage is to White’s thigh or knee Monday. We probably won’t get a real read on how serious the injury is until the Saints resume practicing Wednesday. But losing White would be a blow to a New Orleans defense that has struggled all season. A fifth-round pick, White has been one of the few pleasant surprises on the defense.
TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS
Coach Greg Schiano said early indications are that linebacker Quincy Black did not suffer serious damage to his spine after a helmet-to-helmet hit in Sunday’s victory against San Diego. But Schiano did say Black could miss substantial time due to the injury. Adam Hayward filled in for Black after the injury. But Schiano said rookie Najee Goode and Jacob Cutrera also could be possibilities at strong-side linebacker.
Cornerback Eric Wright tweaked an injury to his Achilles tendon that had caused him some problems in the past. It’s unclear at this point if the injury will cost Wright any playing time. There also have been previous reports that Wright soon could face a suspension for violating the league’s policy on performance-enhancing substances. Either way, the Bucs already are thin on depth at cornerback, although LeQuan Lewis and Leonard Johnson did come up with interceptions Sunday.