Wednesday, October 17, 2012
Comeback day in the NFC South
By Pat Yasinskas
It’s been a day for comebacks (or at least the start of them) in the NFC South.
We already told you about Tampa Bay defensive end Da'Quan Bowers practicing for the first time this season. He’s not the only one. This is the first week that players from the physically unable to perform list are eligible to practice and that was happening elsewhere.
New Orleans linebacker Jonathan Vilma and Carolina receiver David Gettis also practiced for the first time. If Atlanta wasn’t off for its bye week, I think you might have seen defensive tackle Corey Peters practicing for the Falcons.
As we told you, the plan with Bowers is to take things slowly and there’s almost no way the Bucs would consider playing him Sunday against the Saints. Once players on the PUP begin practicing, teams have a three-week window in which to activate them.
It sounds like Carolina has a plan for Gettis similar to Tampa Bay’s plan for Bowers and it’s unlikely he’ll be ready for game action for at least another week.
The one player from the PUP list that has a chance of playing this week is Vilma. Interim coach Aaron Kromer said Vilma looked good in practice. Although this was Vilma’s first practice in coordinator Steve Spagnuolo’s defensive scheme, the veteran has been sitting in on meetings and it shouldn’t be difficult for him to adapt.
Vilma could get some playing time Sunday at Tampa Bay, but it remains to be seen if he would play in the middle or the outside. Vilma previously was New Orleans’ starting middle linebacker.
But the Saints signed Curtis Lofton as a free agent and he’s been solid in the middle so far this season. The Saints have had some issues at the outside linebacker spots, so it’s possible Vilma could slide to the outside.
I don’t know if Vilma is ready to play an entire game, but I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see him get some playing time against Tampa Bay.