NFC South: Christopher Owens

Reviewing NFC South free agents

March, 7, 2013
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 Falcons' defensive snaps

February, 12, 2013
I’ve got complete playing-time numbers for the Atlanta Falcons defense (we’ll have numbers on their offense and the offenses and defenses for the rest of the NFC South teams later).

The Falcons had 1,022 defensive plays and safety Thomas DeCoud was on the field for 1,021 of them, which put him at a team-high 99.9 percent.

Let’s take a look at the playing time percentages for the rest of Atlanta’s defenders:
  • Cornerback Christopher Owens 16.63

Looking at Atlanta's free agents

February, 11, 2013
We still have a little more than a month left before the start of free agency, but let’s start taking a look at who the potential free agents are for each NFC South team. Let’s start with the Atlanta Falcons.

Their potential unrestricted free agents are tight end Tony Gonzalez, cornerback Brent Grimes, tackle Sam Baker, safety William Moore, tackle Will Svitek, fullback Mike Cox, center Todd McClure, quarterback Luke McCown, cornerback Christopher Owens, linebacker Mike Peterson, tackle Garrett Reynolds, defensive end Lawrence Sidbury and defensive tackle Vance Walker. Running back Antone Smith and tight end Michael Palmer are potential restricted free agents.

This is a group that’s heavy at the top. Gonzalez, Moore, Baker and Grimes all are starters and potentially expensive. McClure might be near the end of the line, but he started last season and brings valuable leadership.

The Falcons are pleading heavily with Gonzalez to return for one more season. If he decides to retire, they’ll have to make major changes to their offensive scheme because you just don’t find another tight end with the same skill set.

The Falcons have limited salary-cap space, but, much like last offseason, they’ll make a strong effort to keep their team together.

Moore has turned into a Pro Bowler and Baker had a very solid 2012 season. The beauty of Moore is that he’s a safety and the market price shouldn’t be that high at that position. Left tackles are more expensive, but the Falcons have built a level of trust with Baker and they might be able to keep him at a reasonable rate. Besides, it would be difficult and expensive to go out and find a new left tackle in free agency or the draft.

Grimes is likely to be the biggest challenge in this free-agency class. Although he is undersized and coming off a major injury, Grimes is likely to command big money on the open market. The Falcons also have decent money tied up in Dunta Robinson and Asante Samuel, and Robert McClain showed strong signs he can be a solid No. 3 or No. 2 corner. The Falcons are likely to treat Grimes the same way they did linebacker Curtis Lofton last year. They’ll draw a line in the sand as far as what they’re willing to pay and won’t go over it if he gets a bigger offer elsewhere.

The Falcons have invested a fair amount of draft picks on the interior of the offensive line in recent years, so I can’t see them paying more than the minimum to bring McClure back. They also should be able to retain McCown and Cox for the minimum or close to it. Sidbury, Reynolds and Owens have had plenty of chances, but haven’t developed into impact players. If they get decent offers elsewhere, I don’t see the Falcons making a big effort to keep them. Peterson is a veteran who could come back for one more year at the minimum to provide some linebacker depth.

Walker is a solid role player on the defensive line. But he could get more money elsewhere and I don’t see the Falcons going out of their way to keep him.

Atlanta Falcons injury report

January, 18, 2013
The Atlanta Falcons are listing defensive end John Abraham (ankle) and defensive tackle Jonathan Babineaux (shoulder) as questionable for Sunday’s NFC Championship Game against San Francisco.

But both took part in Friday’s practice on a limited basis, so I think it’s safe to assume Babineaux and Abraham will be playing Sunday.

The Falcons also are listing safety William Moore (hand), linebacker Stephen Nicholas (foot) and cornerback Christopher Owens (hamstring) as probable. All three participated fully in Friday’s practice.

Checking on Falcons' injuries

January, 17, 2013
The Atlanta Falcons appear to be about as healthy as possible as they get ready for Sunday’s NFC Championship Game against the San Francisco 49ers.

Defensive end John Abraham practiced on a limited basis for the second straight day. Abraham aggravated an ankle injury in the win against Seattle in the divisional playoffs. The Falcons continue to express optimism that he’ll be able to play Sunday and I doubt you’ll see Abraham sit this one out. The Falcons need their top pass-rusher and backups Cliff Matthews and Jonathan Massaquoi aren’t nearly on Abraham’s level.

Defensive tackle Jonathan Babineaux (shoulder) and cornerback Christopher Owens (hamstring) also participated in practice on a limited basis.

Safety William Moore (hand) and linebacker Stephen Nicholas (foot) are listed on the injury report but both of them participated fully in practice for the second straight day.

Quick hits from Mike Smith

January, 16, 2013
Atlanta coach Mike Smith just finished his Wednesday news conference. There was no earth-shattering news, but let’s run through a bunch of little nuggets.
  • Smith said defensive end John Abraham, who aggravated an ankle injury in Sunday’s win against Seattle, practiced on a limited basis. Defensive tackle Jonathan Babineaux also was limited and cornerback Christopher Owens (hamstring) did not practice. Safety William Moore fully participated in practice, but is on the injury report with a hand injury.
  • As is his custom, Smith had plenty of praise for the opponent. He said San Francisco has the best offensive line and linebacker corps the Falcons have gone against this season.
  • Last week, Smith compared Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson to Fran Tarkenton. On Wednesday, he compared San Francisco’s Colin Kaepernick to a current player -- Carolina’s Cam Newton. Smith said Kaepernick has size and agility comparable to Newton.
  • Smith said that in studying the 49ers, they’ve been allowing Kaepernick do more things every week since he took over as the starter.
  • The Falcons moved their practice indoors Wednesday due to inclement weather. Smith said the only thing the Falcons weren’t able to work on was their punting game.

Inactives for the Atlanta Falcons

January, 13, 2013
ATLANTA -- The Falcons just announced their inactives for Sunday’s game with Seattle and there are no surprises.

As expected, injured cornerback Christopher Owens is out.

The other inactives are quarterback Dominique Davis, receiver Tim Toone, guard Phillipkeith Manley, guard Harland Gunn, tackle Lamar Holmes and defensive end Lawrence Sidbury.

Falcons' injury report

January, 11, 2013
The Atlanta Falcons just released their final injury report for Sunday’s game against Seattle, and it doesn’t contain any major surprises.

Defensive end John Abraham (ankle) is listed as questionable, but he participated in practice on a limited basis. I’d be shocked if Abraham isn’t able to play. Reserve safety Charles Mitchell (calf) also is questionable. As expected, cornerback Christopher Owens (hamstring) has been declared out for Sunday.

Cornerback Dunta Robinson (concussion) and safety William Moore (hamstring) are both listed as probable, and both participated fully in Friday’s practice.

Atlanta's defensive playing time

January, 8, 2013
One thing I always like to do after the season is look back at playing time for all the players in the NFC South.

We’ll get to the Buccaneers, Panthers and Saints at some point in the coming days or weeks. But we’re going to take a look at the Atlanta Falcons now since they’re in the playoffs.

Let’s start with Atlanta’s defense. The Falcons had 1,041 defensive snaps. Here’s a list of how man plays each player was on the field for, followed by my thoughts on things that stand out: My thoughts: Having the 34-year-old Abraham on the field for almost 72 percent of the plays seems excessive. But, after Edwards flamed out and was released, the Falcons really didn’t have much depth at defensive end. … Babineaux was on the field for 82 percent of the plays. That’s a huge number for a defensive tackle and it makes you wonder if he might be a little worn down. … Technically, Dent is Atlanta’s starting middle linebacker. But he only took part in 48 percent of the plays and some of that came while he was filling in for an injured Weatherspoon. The Falcons used their nickel defense more often than their 4-3 base. But I think you might see a fair amount of Dent on Sunday against Seattle because the Falcons need to slow Marshawn Lynch and the running game. … That’s not a misprint that Jones, a Pro Bowl wide receiver, was on the field for one defensive play. The Falcons threw him out there as a safety, the same way they used to do with Brian Finneran, at the end of one game.

Around the NFC South

December, 29, 2012
Time for a look at the top Saturday morning headlines from around the division:


Safety Thomas DeCoud won the Good Guy Award from the local chapter of the Pro Football Writers of America. Good choice. DeCoud is one of the best interviews in the NFC South.

The Falcons have declared safety William Moore (hamstring) and cornerback Christopher Owens (hamstring) out for Sunday’s game with Tampa Bay. Defensive tackle Jonathan Babineaux (ribs), receiver Roddy White (knee), defensive tackle Corey Peters (knee) and defensive end Cliff Matthews (hamstring) are listed as questionable. Since the Falcons already have clinched all there is to clinch, I’d expect coach Mike Smith to be very cautious with the guys that are questionable.


Quarterback Cam Newton was fined $31,000 for kicking an opponent and making physical contact with an official during Sunday’s win against Oakland. Defensive end Greg Hardy was fined $25,000 for hitting quarterback Carson Palmer with his helmet. Safety Charles Godfrey was fined $21,000 for hitting a receiver in the head.

Center Geoff Hangartner, running back Jonathan Stewart and linebacker James Anderson all are listed as questionable for Sunday’s game with New Orleans.


Mike Triplett writes that it’s a good thing the Saints and coach Sean Payton agreed to a contract extension when they did. If this situation had dragged into next week when other teams start firing coaches, things could have gotten ugly. Payton could have been at the center of a bidding war and the Saints could have permanently lost their coach, which would have been catastrophic.

Running back Pierre Thomas, defensive tackle Akiem Hicks and cornerback Jabari Greer have all been declared out for the final game because of injuries.


Stephen Holder speculates that the Bucs might hold cornerback Eric Wright, who just returned from a suspension, out of Sunday’s game with Atlanta. It makes perfect sense to hold Wright out to avoid injury, if the Bucs are planning to release him after the season. I think that’s a good possibility. I think it’s highly unlikely the Bucs will pay Wright $7.75 million in base salary when they can free up the exact same amount in salary-cap space by releasing him. The only way I see Wright staying with the Bucs is if he takes a pay cut. Wright’s first season with the Bucs was plagued by injuries and the suspension and, when he was on the field, he didn’t do anything special.

Tampa Bay's defensive backfield has taken lots of criticism, but here's an article that praises the play of the front seven.

NFC South afternoon update

December, 27, 2012
Let's take a quick run through some odds and ends from around the division:


Safety William Moore, cornerback Christopher Owens and defensive end Cliff Matthews each missed Thursday’s practice with hamstring injuries. Receiver Roddy White also missed practice with a knee injury. Even though coach Mike Smith has said he’s keeping his foot on the gas pedal with home-field advantage already clinched, I would expect him to be very cautious about playing any of the injured players on Sunday.


Coach Ron Rivera is unhappy that his players were overlooked for the Pro Bowl. Defensive ends Charles Johnson and Greg Hardy and linebacker Luke Kuechly might have been the strongest candidates. But the reality is you’re not going to get a lot of recognition when you aren’t winning.


Fullback Jed Collins (knee) returned to practice Thursday. But running back Pierre Thomas (knee) and cornerback Jabari Greer (concussion) missed practice.


Tight end Dallas Clark was noncommittal about his future with the Bucs. The veteran signed only a one-year contract. Clark has been reasonably productive, but he hasn’t been a huge part of the offense. I expect the Bucs to at least look at younger alternatives at tight end, but re-signing Clark could be a fallback option.

Final Word: NFC South

December, 21, 2012
NFC Final Word: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

Five nuggets of knowledge about the Week 16 games:

[+] EnlargeMatt Ryan
AP Photo/John AmisQuick starts have been the norm over the years for Matt Ryan and the Falcons.
It’s how you start: Starting fast, like they did with an interception and a quick touchdown last week against the Giants, has become a trademark of the Atlanta Falcons. Since coach Mike Smith and quarterback Matt Ryan arrived in 2008, the Falcons have scored more points (224) on their opening drive than any other team in the league.

Nickel and dime: Look for the Falcons to keep extra defensive backs on the field for almost the entire game with Detroit. The Lions have called for a designed pass on 67.2 percent of their offensive plays, most in the NFL. Reserve defensive backs Robert McClain, Christopher Owens and Dominique Franks all could see increased playing time.

Padding the résumé: New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees probably already has done enough to make himself a first-ballot Hall of Famer. But he can add another impressive line to his bio against the Dallas Cowboys. Brees needs 165 passing yards to reach 4,500 for the season. If he gets there, Brees will become the first player in NFL history with three consecutive seasons of at least 4,500 passing yards.

On a roll: Carolina quarterback Cam Newton has been hot in recent weeks. In the past four games, Newton has been responsible for 12 touchdowns (passing and rushing). That’s the highest total of any player in the same span. Newton also has accounted for 1,309 yards of offense in those four games, the third-highest total in the league.

Closing in on history: The Bucs are leading the league by allowing an average of 310.6 passing yards per game. That puts them on pace to finish the season with 4,970 passing yards allowed. That would shatter the NFL record (4,796 yards, set by Green Bay last season).
The final injury reports are out, so let’s take a look at the latest on the most significant injuries from around the division:

The Atlanta Falcons continued to hold safety William Moore (hamstring) and cornerback Asante Samuel (shoulder) out of practice and that means there’s a good chance both will sit out Sunday against Carolina. Chris Hope is the likely replacement if Moore can’t play. If Samuel is out, that likely means more playing time for Robert McClain and Christopher Owens.

The Panthers are listing running back Jonathan Stewart (ankle) as doubtful. That means DeAngelo Williams will be the main running back. Receiver Brandon LaFell (toe) is questionable and Louis Murphy likely would start if LaFell can’t play. Defensive tackle Dwan Edwards (wrist) and linebacker James Anderson (back) didn’t practice and are listed as questionable, but coach Ron Rivera indicated there is hope they’ll be able to play.

Tampa Bay defensive tackle Roy Miller was cleared to practice after sitting out the previous two days due to a head injury. Coach Greg Schiano said the Bucs will be cautious with Miller. If he can’t play, Gary Gibson and Corvey Irvin likely would take on an increased work load. Cornerback Anthony Gaitor officially was moved to the 53-man roster from injured reserve Friday afternoon.

The New Orleans Saints are relatively healthy. Only reserve offensive tackle Charles Brown (knee) and backup cornerback Corey White (knee) have been ruled out for Sunday’s game with the Giants. All the other Saints that have been listed on the injury report this week are probable.

Checking injuries that matter most

December, 6, 2012
The Thursday injury reports are out and there are some significant developments from all around the division. Let’s take a look:

The Carolina Panthers have the division’s most extensive injury list. Linebacker James Anderson (back), offensive lineman Jeff Byers (back), defensive tackle Dwan Edwards (wrist), safety Charles Godfrey (back), receiver Brandon LaFell (toe) and running back Jonathan Stewart (ankle) all were held out of Thursday’s practice. It looks like the Panthers will continue their trend of using a lot of young players.

The Atlanta Falcons secondary remains a question mark. Safety William Moore (hamstring) and cornerback Asante Samuel (shoulder) each missed a second straight day of practice. If Moore can’t play, Chris Hope likely would move into his place. If Samuel is out, it would mean more playing time for Robert McClain and Christopher Owens.

The New Orleans Saints are getting healthy. Offensive tackle Charles Brown (knee) and cornerback Corey White (knee) were the only two players to be held out of Thursday’s practice. Safety Roman Harper (ribs) participated fully after being limited Wednesday.

Tampa Bay’s got an issue that could be significant with Philadelphia running back Bryce Brown coming to town. Coach Greg Schiano said defensive tackle Roy Miller will miss Sunday’s game due to a head injury. That could mean more playing time for Gary Gibson, Corvey Irvin and Matthew Masifilo.

NFC South afternoon update

December, 5, 2012
The practice reports are coming in very fast from all around the division this Wednesday afternoon. So let's run quickly through a bunch of news and notes from all precincts.


It appears as if cornerback Anthony Gaitor, who had been sidelined by a hamstring injury, will make his season debut Sunday against Philadelphia. That couldn’t come at a better time for the Buccaneers because Eric Wright is serving a suspension and LeQuan Lewis has a knee injury that could hold him out. Gaitor could get instant playing time behind starters E.J. Biggers and Leonard Johnson.

Offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan said an ESPN report that he pursued the coaching job at Boston College was inaccurate. But there also are rumblings that Tampa Bay special assistant Butch Davis could be a candidate for the job at Florida International University. The Boston College job already has been filled, so that’s not even an issue for Sullivan and the Bucs. But Davis, who has been a head coach on the college level and has ties to South Florida, certainly seems like a logical option for Florida International.


Defensive end Junior Galette, who missed four games with an ankle injury, practiced Wednesday. If Galette is able to play Sunday, he could provide a boost for a pass rush that’s been pretty ordinary.

Defensive coordinator Steve Spagnoulo said he admires MetLife Stadium, but said it doesn’t mean as much to him as Giants Stadium. Spagnuolo had a couple of years as a New York assistant, including the 2008 season in which the Giants went on to win the Super Bowl.


Quarterback Cam Newton said Wednesday that no job (not even his own) is safe right now. I think that’s true for just about every other member of the Panthers. But Newton’s job is safe going forward. The team has a lot invested in him and whoever the team ends up hiring as the new general manager likely will have to convince owner Jerry Richardson he can win with Newton.


On the same day Atlanta safety William Moore was named the NFC Defensive Player of the Week, he missed practice with a hamstring injury. The Falcons could have their depth tested in the secondary as cornerback Asante Samuel also missed practice with a shoulder injury. The Falcons can turn to Robert McClain and Christopher Owens if Samuel is unable to play Sunday. Chris Hope would be the likely replacement if Moore has to miss any time.