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Tuesday, August 11, 2009
Injuries piling up around NFC South

By Pat Yasinskas
ESPN.com

Posted by ESPN.com's Pat Yasinskas

The second week of training camp in the NFC South is shaping up to be even more dangerous than the first.

Last week, the Panthers lost Maake Kemoeatu and the Falcons lost Harry Douglas for the season. In the last 24 hours, there's been a rash of injuries, including some to very prominent players. None of them is season-ending, but they're all going to hurt.

Carolina coach John Fox never puts timetables on how long injured players will be out. But the agent for Steve Smith said the receiver will be out at least two weeks. Smith may be the best player in the NFC South and injuries are never a good thing. But, if Smith is only out two weeks, this isn't all negative. Smith is a veteran and knows the offensive system well. As long as he's healthy for the regular season, the Panthers will be fine. The side benefit to this one is it will give third-year pro Dwayne Jarrett a lot of work with the first team and that could help him clinch the No. 3 receiver spot.

The injury to Antonio Bryant potentially has much bigger consequences for Tampa Bay's receiving corps. Bryant's going to miss the entire preseason and you have to be a little concerned that it could spill over into the regular season. Michael Clayton, the other starting receiver, also is banged up. Yes, this provides some opportunities for guys like Maurice Stovall and Sammie Stroughter, but the Bucs are probably going to have to make a roster move to get an experienced receiver. They've sniffed around a bunch of big names previously, but it might be time to make a move for someone like a Marvin Harrison. Also, keep an eye on the Plaxico Burress situation because the Bucs sure are.

New Orleans linebacker Mark Simoneau has a torn triceps muscle and is going to be out for several weeks. That cuts into the depth at linebacker, where the Saints already lost Dan Morgan to retirement and rookie Stanley Arnoux to injury. Once again, go ahead and start the cries for the Saints to sign Derrick Brooks. But I still don't think that's going to happen.

Tampa Bay kicker Matt Bryant, who missed some time with a leg injury last week, reportedly appeared to aggravate the condition in Tuesday morning's practice. Missing more time isn't going to help Bryant in his battle with Mike Nugent.