Time for a run through the top headlines of the day from around the NFC South.
The agent for backup center/guard Joe Hawley said his client’s four-game suspension is due to using the prescription drug Adderall in September without filling out the proper paperwork with the NFL. It’s unclear if Hawley had a prescription. But NFL rules are very clear that it is a banned substance unless it’s use is approved by the league in individual cases. The agent also said Hawley is not appealing the suspension.
Although cornerback Asante Samuel, receiver Julio Jones and defensive tackle Peria Jerry all were banged up Sunday, coach Mike Smith said Monday he feels comfortable with his team’s injury situation.
Coach Ron Rivera said he’s had several recent conversations with owner Jerry Richardson and knows his future is uncertain in Carolina. It’s good that Rivera recognizes that because it’s pretty obvious to the entire world that he’s on the hot seat. Rivera’s a great guy and I think he could be a successful head coach in the right situation. But, unless the Panthers have some sort of dramatic turnaround in the coming weeks, I don’t see any scenario where Rivera remains as their coach next season.
Defensive end Charles Johnson took to Twitter to imply that some of his teammates are not working hard enough after Carolina’s defense collapsed late in Sunday’s loss to Tampa Bay. It’s good that someone is asking for accountability. But I’m not sure Twitter is the best means to accomplish that. Maybe former general manager Marty Hurney had a point when, on the day he was fired, he said the team didn’t have enough leaders stepping forward. Johnson’s message might carry a little more weight if he delivered it in the locker room instead of on the computer.
NEW ORLEANS SAINTS
After sitting out the first six weeks of the season while recovering from knee problems, Jonathan Vilma is starting to get more playing time at weak-side linebacker. He played on 74 percent of the defensive snaps in Sunday’s victory at Oakland. New Orleans’ maligned defense has started to play better recently and I don’t think that it’s just a coincidence that things have started to turn as Vilma gets more playing time.
Interim head coach Joe Vitt said the knee injury to right tackle Charles Brown still is being evaluated. Brown had been starting in place of Zach Strief, who has been out with a groin injury. Rookie Bryce Harris filled in after Brown’s injury Sunday and Vitt did not rule out the possibility of the Saints signing another tackle for the short term.
TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS
Stephen Holder writes that cornerback Aqib Talib’s debut with the Patriots was pretty similar to what he did during his time with the Bucs. Talib had an interception and returned it for a touchdown Sunday, but he also gave up two touchdowns. It’s all or nothing with Talib. He’s talented, but consistency never has been his strong point. The Patriots are finding that out quickly. We’ll see if they also get to find out that Talib has a tendency to find problems off the field.
Speaking of Tampa Bay and the situation at cornerback, Eric Wright sounded a little ominous when he said “we might have to make a decision’’. Wright has been dealing with a linger injury to his Achilles tendon and he at list left the impression that going on injured reserve is a possibility. Beyond Wright, the Bucs don’t have much depth at cornerback.