NFC South: Andre Neblett

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers made a series of moves Monday afternoon that don’t look like much on the surface.

But there’s one transaction in the bunch that could be significant for the Bucs. They signed free-agent defensive tackle Andre Neblett, who spent the last three seasons with the Carolina Panthers. Neblett made the Panthers as an undrafted free agent in 2010 and worked his way into the rotation in 2011. But Neblett was suspended the first four games of last season and didn’t get much playing time once he returned.

A fresh start, however, could be good for Neblett and the Bucs. Neblett is a run-stuffing defensive tackle and the Bucs have a little uncertainty at the position next to Pro Bowler Gerald McCoy. There’s hope that fourth-round pick Akeem Spence can develop quickly and that Derek Landri, another free-agent pickup, can contribute.

It makes sense to bring in a guy like Neblett. He isn’t going to suddenly turn into a Pro Bowler, but Neblett can at least compete for a spot in the rotation with Spence and Landri.

In other moves, the Bucs signed North Carolina receiver Jheranie Boyd, Northern Michigan offensive tackle Jace Daniels, Mount Union receiver Chris Denton and Rutgers linebacker Ka’lial Glaud after they made good impressions in the weekend minicamp.

The team also waived defensive tackle Richard Clebert, receiver D.J. Monroe and running back Akeem Shavers, while terminating the contracts of guard Roger Allen and defensive end George Selvie.

Reviewing NFC South free agents

March, 7, 2013
3/07/13
10:42
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We’ve shown you the lists of potential NFC South free agents before. But let’s do it again because there have been some minor moves and the free-agency period is getting ready to start Tuesday.

Here’s the list of potential free agents for all four NFC South teams:

Atlanta Falcons. Tony Gonzalez, Brent Grimes, Sam Baker, William Moore, Will Svitek, Mike Cox, Todd McClure, Luke McCown, Christopher Owens, Mike Peterson, Garrett Reynolds, Lawrence Sidbury and Vance Walker all can become unrestricted free agents. Michael Palmer can become a restricted free agent.

Carolina Panthers. The potential unrestricted free agents are Derek Anderson, Antwan Applewhite, Gary Barnidge, Dwan Edwards, Ben Hartsock, Sherrod Martin, Captain Munnerlyn, Louis Murphy and Mike Pollak. Richie Brockel can become an exclusive-rights free agent. Andre Neblett, Nate Ness and Jason Phillips are scheduled to become restricted free agents.

New Orleans Saints. Jermon Bushrod, Jonathan Casillas, Chase Daniel, Sedrick Ellis, Devery Henderson, Ramon Humber, Elbert Mack, Turk McBride, Will Robinson, Courtney Roby and Scott Shanle can become unrestricted free agents. Brian De La Puente, Justin Drescher, Junior Galette and Chris Ivory are scheduled to become restricted free agents. Eric Olsen and Michael Higgins can become exclusive-rights free agents.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Ronde Barber, Dallas Clark, Michael Bennett, E.J. Biggers, Andrew Economos, Roy Miller, Roscoe Parrish, Sammie Stroughter and Jeremy Trueblood can become unrestricted free agents. LeGarrette Blount, Jacob Cutrera, Corvey Irvin and Daniel Te’o-Nesheim are scheduled to become restricted free agents.

Looking at Panthers' defensive snaps

February, 12, 2013
2/12/13
12:07
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As I’ve been running through playing-time numbers for the 2012 season, I’ve been highlighting the guys who played huge amounts. But, in this post about Carolina’s defense, we’re going to go in the opposite direction.

Injuries were a big story for Carolina, which had 1,051 defensive snaps. But the Panthers were without some key components for most of those snaps. Due to injuries, linebacker Jon Beason was limited to 24.93 percent of the snaps, cornerback Chris Gamble participated in only 26.64 percent of the snaps and defensive tackle Ron Edwards was limited to 29.97 percent.

Here’s the complete breakdown of playing-time percentage for Carolina’s defense:

Looking at Carolina's free agents

February, 11, 2013
2/11/13
11:18
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Let’s continue our look at the NFC South’s potential free agents with the Carolina Panthers.

The bad news is the Panthers don’t have the salary-cap room to re-sign many of their own free agents. The good news is it’s unlikely they’ll have a strong desire to keep many of those guys.

Their potential unrestricted free agents are quarterback Derek Anderson, defensive end Antwan Applewhite, tight end Gary Barnidge, defensive tackle Dwan Edwards, tight end Ben Hartsock, safety Sherrod Martin, cornerback Captain Munnerlyn, receiver Louis Murphy, guard Mike Pollak and linebacker Jordan Senn. Fullback/tight end Richie Brockel can become an exclusive-rights frree agent and defensive tackle Andre Neblett, safety Nate Ness and linebacker Jason Phillips are scheduled to become restricted free agents.

There’s not a single name on that list that the Panthers have to keep, although there are several role players that could have increased because the team is going to have to part with several veteran starters to get under the salary cap.

Applewhite, Edwards and Munnerlyn are likely to be the top targets for retention. But Munnerlyn, who the Panthers prefer to use only against slot receivers, believes he can be an every-down corner and may try to find a team that will use him as a full-time starter.

Martin is a former starter, but his career might be better off with a fresh start elsewhere. Anderson has been a veteran backup for Cam Newton the last two years, but I don’t think re-signing him is a high priority. The Panthers also have Jimmy Clausen under contract and, by now, he should know the offense as well as Anderson.

NFC South evening update

October, 8, 2012
10/08/12
5:39
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I just arrived back at NFC South Blog headquarters, so let’s take a spin through the afternoon’s top stories from around the division:

ATLANTA FALCONS

Jeff Schultz writes the Falcons’ win over the Redskins was the highlight of a bad sports weekend for Atlanta (see the Braves, Georgia Tech and Georgia).

In his weekly report card, D. Orlando Ledbetter gives the offensive line an "A" for its outing against Washington. That’s at least three or four letter grades higher than the Falcons got most of last year.

CAROLINA PANTHERS

Coach Ron Rivera said quarterback Cam Newton is pressing too much. Of course he is. It’s pretty obvious Newton is going overboard to try to carry his team. The coaching staff needs to get Newton settled down. More importantly, those same coaches need to start taking better advantage of all the talent around Newton, so he doesn’t feel like he has to do it all himself.

The Panthers just announced they have re-signed defensive tackle Andre Neblett to the 53-man roster and waived cornerback Ron Parker.

NEW ORLEANS SAINTS

The Saints were in much better spirits Monday, after getting their first win. They have a bye week and then a game at Tampa Bay, so you can at least see the outline of how they could get started on a bit of a run. But it’s going to have to turn into a very big run if this team is going to have a shot at the playoffs.

Jeff Duncan points out that the Saints have allowed 2,280 yards of total offense. That’s the second-highest five-game total in NFL history. Think it’s safe to say the Saints will spend some of their bye week working on their defense.

Interim head coach Aaron Kromer didn’t have much in the way of updates on injuries to cornerback Jabari Greer (ankle) and tight end Jimmy Graham (groin). With the bye week, the Saints have a little time to get them health, but there’s a big drop off to their backups if Greer or Graham has to miss time after the bye.

TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS

Coach Greg Schiano continues to hint there could be a change coming at right guard, where Ted Larsen has started since Davin Joseph went down with a season-ending injury in the preseason. Jeremy Trueblood, who lost his starting job at right tackle, seems to be a candidate to take over at right guard.

Although their run defense has been a bright spot, the Bucs are bracing for Sunday, when they face Jamaal Charles, the NFL’s leading rusher.

NFC South afternoon roundup

July, 24, 2012
7/24/12
3:37
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We’ll hear more from the New Orleans Saints later on Tuesday. They’re the first NFC South team reporting to camp and interim coach Joe Vitt, quarterback Drew Brees and safety Roman Harper are scheduled to talk to the media Tuesday evening. We’ll check in on the highlights of that later on. Meantime, let’s take a run through some other NFC South notes.
  • Jeremy Shockey’s name is starting to pop up around the league. That’s probably exactly how the veteran tight end, who spent last season with Carolina, has planned it. Shockey already could have signed with Carolina or another team. But he’s the kind of name player that could have more value once teams get into training camp and some of them realize they still have a need at tight end. I think the door is still open in Carolina. But I don’t think Shockey returns there unless the Panthers suddenly become willing to pay more than the veteran minimum. I think Shockey is waiting for something to come open in a place he views as a better destination. I’m still not ready to completely rule out a return to the NFC South for a guy that played for the Saints before joining the Panthers, but I think there’s at least a chance Shockey could land in an NFC South port he hasn’t been in before -- if there is room for him.
  • Carolina defensive tackle Andre Neblett said a dietary supplement caused his four-game suspension for violating the NFL’s policy on performance-enhancing substances. Neblett can still go through camp and the preseason with the team. But he’ll need to make a really strong impression -- and beat out Frank Kearse -- to have a chance to get back on the roster when his suspension ends.
  • Pete Prisco predicts the record for every NFL team in the 2012 season. Fans of the Buccaneers, Saints and Panthers aren’t going to like what he has to say, but Atlanta fans would be pretty happy if the season plays out the way Prisco sees it.
  • Tampa Bay defensive end Da'Quan Bowers, defensive tackle Amobi Okoye and linebacker Adam Hayward will begin the preseason on the physically-unable-to-perform list (PUP). Players can come off the PUP at any time during the preseason and I think that’s the hope for Okoye (knee) and Hayward (foot). But Bowers suffered a torn Achilles tendon in the offseason and is likely to miss significant time. If a player starts the regular season on PUP, he has to sit out at least the first six games.
  • Falcons owner Arthur Blank will talk about how he built his empire at an upcoming business leadership seminar.

Around the NFC South

July, 19, 2012
7/19/12
10:03
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Let's take a look at the morning's top headlines from around the NFC South.
  • The Times-Picayune continues its series of the top 25 Saints with defensive end Will Smith at No. 7. My first thought is that seems a little high for a guy that’s been a bit inconsistent in recent years and is facing a four-game suspension to start the season. But Smith still is the biggest pass-rushing threat the Saints have on the defensive line and that’s important in Steve Spagnuolo’s defense. He could justify that ranking or even improve it with a season of double-digit sacks.
  • In a related matter, Bradley Handwerger wonders if the defensive line will be revitalized under Spagnuolo. It remains to be seen where the pass rush will come from. Defensive end Martez Wilson, who is making the move from linebacker, is one possibility. But I think the arrival of defensive tackle Brodrick Bunkley should provide a nice upgrade in the middle of the defensive line.
  • D. Orlando Ledbetter has an overview of Atlanta’s safeties. Thomas DeCoud and William Moore have been solid starters. With the Falcons suddenly loaded at cornerback, the safeties have a chance to come up with more big plays and perhaps take their game to the next level. The Falcons also added veteran Chris Hope as a backup, which could end up being important because there previously was little depth after DeCoud and Moore.
  • Joseph Person reports that Carolina’s Andre Neblett will lose $135,000 in salary while he’s suspended for the first four games for violating the league’s policy on performance-enhancing substances. Also, there’s no guarantee Neblett will have a job when he’s eligible to return. The Panthers liked what they saw out of Frank Kearse at the end of last season and he could take over Neblett’s spot in the rotation.
  • Manchester United, the soccer team owned by the Glazer family that owns the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, reportedly will start selling its stock as soon as next week. The report also says the initial public offering is designed to raise $300 million and not the $500 million that had been previously reported.
Since last week’s signing of New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees, it’s been a pretty quiet few days around the NFC South. Well, that just changed.

The NFL just announced that Carolina defensive tackle Andre Neblett will be suspended without pay for the season’s first four games for violating league policy on performance-enhancing substances.

Neblett made Carolina’s roster as an undrafted free agent in 2010. He has appeared in 19 career games and got four starts last season when the Panthers were devastated by injuries at defensive tackle.

With Ron Edwards, Sione Fua and Terrell McClain all returning from injuries, Neblett would have gone to training camp with a chance to compete for a backup job. He still will go to training camp because his suspension doesn’t start until the beginning of the regular season, but the Panthers could look at other candidates (particularly Frank Kearse) to replace him. Neblett will be eligible to return to Carolina’s active roster Oct. 1, following a Sept. 30 game against Atlanta.
The NFC South is a division without a dominant defensive tackle.

But I think it’s fair to say Atlanta’s Corey Peters and Jonathan Babineaux, New Orleans’ Sedrick Ellis and Tampa Bay’s Brian Price were the best the NFC South had to offer in 2011. Apparently, their coaches agreed.

According to playing-time numbers obtained by ESPN.com, Ellis led all NFC South tackles by taking part in 66.3 percent of New Orleans’ 1,061 defensive plays. That percentage ranked Ellis No. 16 in the NFL and he was the only NFC South player in the top 20.

Peters was next at 60.4 percent, which ranked No. 23 in the league. Babineaux was No. 30 at 54.1 percent. Price, who was somewhat limited by injuries and was sent home early from one game by former coach Raheem Morris, took part in 47.1 percent of Tampa Bay’s defensive plays. That tied him at No. 37 in the league with teammate Roy Miller.

Carolina rookie Terrell McClain was one spot behind them, taking part in 46 percent of his team’s defensive plays. After that, there was a big drop off among the rest of the division’s tackles and we should note that Tampa Bay’s Gerald McCoy probably would have finished in the top four or five in the NFC South if he hadn’t suffered a season-ending injury.

Let’s take a look at the percentage of playing time for the rest of the NFC South defensive tackles:

Checking the injuries that matter most

December, 30, 2011
12/30/11
4:49
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The final injury reports are out for Sunday’s games, so let’s take a look at the most significant injuries around the NFC South.

The Falcons are listing linebacker Stephen Nicholas (toe) and receiver Kerry Meier (groin) as doubtful. The Falcons have been getting linebacker Spencer Adkins ready to start this week. Defensive end Ray Edwards (knee) and cornerback Brent Grimes (knee) are questionable. Edwards participated in practice on a limited basis Friday, but Grimes did not. Backup quarterback Chris Redman also is listed as questionable.

The Buccaneers have ruled right tackle Jeremy Trueblood out with a concussion. Receiver Arrelious Benn (neck), defensive end Michael Bennett (toe), defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth (knee) and defensive tackle Brian Price (ankle) are listed as questionable. Benn and Haynesworth did not practice Friday while Price and Bennett participated fully.

The Panthers have ruled receiver Legedu Naanee (foot), defensive tackle Andre Neblett (concussion) and safety Jordan Pugh (concussion) out for Sunday. Defensive end Charles Johnson (back) is listed as doubtful and did not practice all week.

The Saints said running back Mark Ingram (toe) and receiver Lance Moore (hamstring) will be out Sunday. Linebacker Jonathan Vilma (knee) and safety Malcolm Jenkins (neck) are questionable and practiced on a limited basis.

Mark Ingram suffers setback

December, 29, 2011
12/29/11
4:23
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We’ve got some very significant injury news out of New Orleans and updates on other injuries of note all around the NFC South.

New Orleans running back Mark Ingram, who has missed the past three games with a toe injury, suffered what coach Sean Payton called a setback in his recovery. Ingram aggravated the injury when he returned to practice Wednesday and did not practice Thursday. Receiver Lance Moore (hamstring) missed his second straight day of practice. On the bright side, safety Malcolm Jenkins (neck) and linebacker Jonathan Vilma returned to practice on a limited basis after sitting out Wednesday.

The Buccaneers are pretty banged up. Receiver Arrelious Benn (neck), defensive end Michael Bennett (toe), defensive tackle Brian Price (ankle) and right tackle Jeremy Trueblood (concussion) each missed their second straight day of practice. Defensive end Adrian Clayborn (hamstring) also was held out of Thursday’s practice.

Atlanta’s also got some significant injuries. Defensive end Ray Edwards (knee) and linebacker Stephen Nicholas (toe) each missed their second straight day of practice. If Edwards can’t play, Kroy Biermann and Lawrence Sidbury likely would get increased playing time. With Nicholas injured and Mike Peterson on injured reserve, the Falcons are getting Spencer Adkins ready to start at outside linebacker.

Carolina’s defensive line has some big injury problems. Defensive end Charles Johnson (back) and defensive tackle Andre Neblett (head) each missed practice for the second straight day.

Around the NFC South

December, 8, 2011
12/08/11
10:26
AM ET
Time for a look at Thursday morning's top headlines from around the NFC South.

Atlanta linebacker Sean Weatherspoon is starting to make some big plays. Apparently, Weatherspoon also is a flashy dresser.

The Panthers are ready to turn to Andre Neblett and Frank Kearse as their starting defensive tackles, after losing Sione Fua and Terrell McClain to season-ending injuries.

The last time the Saints faced Tennessee quarterback Matt Hasselbeck was when he was playing for Seattle. That was in a playoff game the Saints lost last season. The Saints will face Hasselbeck again Sunday.

Tampa Bay cornerback Aqib Talib has been playing through a hamstring injury most of the season. He hasn’t missed a game. But Talib was sent to have some tests Wednesday to see if the injury has worsened.
Just when it didn’t seem like things could get any worse for the Carolina Panthers’ defense, they have.

Rookie starting defensive tackles Terrell McClain and Sione Fua reportedly will be placed on injured reserve. That would leave Andre Neblett and Frank Kearse as the only defensive tackles on the roster. Update: The Panthers just officially announced McClain and Fua have been placed on injured reserve.

To replace them on the roster, the Panthers have signed Ogemdi Nwagbuo as a free agent and promoted Jason Shirley from the practice squad. The Panthers also added defensive tackle Demario Pressley to the practice squad.

Defensive tackle was a problem spot for the Panthers even in the last years of coach John Fox’s regime. When Ron Rivera took over, the Panthers tried to solidify things in the middle of their defensive line.

Besides drafting McClain and Fua, the Panthers made one of their biggest free-agency moves by signing Ron Edwards. The former Kansas City player was supposed to instantly become the anchor of the interior line and the plan was to let McClain and Fua grow up alongside Edwards.

But that plan went awry in training camp, when Edwards suffered a season-ending injury. The Panthers have gone through a bunch of defensive tackles in the meantime.

The only bright side to all this is Fua and McClain got experience this year. Bring them back healthy next year and put them next to a healthy Edwards and the Panthers might be all right at defensive tackle for the first time in a long time.

Panthers put Ron Edwards on I.R.

August, 11, 2011
8/11/11
6:21
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We knew this was probably coming, but it still is a harsh reminder that the Carolina Panthers lost one of their top free agents for the season.

Edwards
Edwards
The team just officially announced defensive tackle Ron Edwards has been placed on the injured-reserve list. Edwards, who was signed from Kansas City and was expected to start immediately, suffered a torn triceps muscle early in camp.

The Panthers filled his roster spot by signing DelJuan Robinson. Unless Robinson does something really surprising, Carolina could be looking at starting two rookie defensive tackles.

Terrell McClain and Sione Fua both were drafted in the third round and the initial plan was to pair McClain with Edwards in the starting lineup. The front office and coaching staff believe McClain can make a significant impact right away, but believe Fua might take a little more time to develop.

Fua’s timetable could be moved up now. Robinson was a backup with the Houston Texans in 2008 and ’09 and has made only three career starts. The other defensive tackles on Carolina’s roster are Corvey Irvin, Nick Hayden, Louis Ellis, Andre Neblett and Tommie Duhart.

Irvin and Hayden have some experience and could be in the mix to start. But the team might decide to bring in another veteran later in the preseason.

Carolina inactives and lineup changes

October, 10, 2010
10/10/10
11:40
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- As expected, the Panthers will be without injured receiver Steve Smith, safety Sherrod Martin and offensive tackle Jeff Otah.

Those three highlight Carolina’s list of inactives, which also includes running back Tyrell Sutton, linebacker Jamar Williams, center Chris Morris and defensive tackle Andre Neblett.

David Gettis will start in Smith’s place and Geoff Schwartz will start for Otah. The Panthers have not announced who will start in Martin’s spot at free safety, but it’s likely to be rookie Jordan Pugh.

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