NFC South: Daniel Graham

Looking at Saints' offensive snaps

February, 12, 2013
2/12/13
2:32
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Aside from right tackle, where a series of injuries forced many changes, the New Orleans Saints' offensive line was exceptionally durable in the 2012 season.

Guard Ben Grubbs and center Brian De La Puente each took part in all 1,107 of New Orleans’ offensive plays. Guard Jahri Evans missed two plays and left tackle Jermon Bushrod missed four.

Here’s the percentage breakdown of playing time for the rest of the New Orleans offense:

NFC South evening update

October, 25, 2012
10/25/12
5:33
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As we get ready for the Thursday night game between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Minnesota Vikings, let’s take a look at the news of the day from around the rest of the division.

ATLANTA FALCONS

Wide receiver Harry Douglas (knee/ankle) missed his second straight day of practice Thursday. If Douglas can’t play Sunday, the Falcons will have to turn to either Drew Davis or Kevin Cone (or a combination of the two) as their third receiver. Both are untested.

Daniel Cox makes a good point about how fast starts by the Falcons have disappeared in recent weeks. The Falcons scored on their opening drive in each of the first three games. But they haven’t done that in their last three outings.

CAROLINA PANTHERS

Veterans Jordan Gross and Steve Smith said they agree with fired general manager Marty Hurney’s assertion that the Panthers need more leaders to step up. I think those might be the last two guys on the roster Hurney was referencing. In different ways, Gross and Smith have been strong leaders for a long time. I think Hurney was talking about a lot of other players and I don’t solely mean quarterback Cam Newton.

The Panthers are shifting Byron Bell back to right tackle, after he played guard last week and plan to start Jeff Byers at guard. Joseph Person writes that may be an indication that the Panthers plan to switch to more of a power running game. Might as well try switching things up because this offense clearly has not been clicking.

Defensive end Charles Johnson left Thursday’s practice with a hip injury. But coach Ron Rivera said the injury doesn’t appear to be anything serious.

NEW ORLEANS SAINTS

Check out this photo of a New Orleans fan wearing a “Free Sean Payton’’ shirt while posing for a picture with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell. The fan unveiled the shirt at the last moment at the end of a town-hall meeting Goodell had with fans. An NFL spokesman said Goodell laughed and thought the incident was funny.

Wide receiver Joe Morgan (chest) and tight end Daniel Graham (ankle) have been declared out for Sunday’s game at Denver. The good news is it appears as if starting tight end Jimmy Graham is on the path to returning after missing a game with an ankle injury. Don’t be surprised if the Saints re-sign receiver Greg Camarillo to help fill Morgan’s spot.
TAMPA, Fla. -- The Tampa Bay Buccaneers might have caught a big break Saturday afternoon when the New Orleans Saints announced that tight end Jimmy Graham will not play in Sunday’s game at Raymond James Stadium.

Graham had been listed as questionable with an ankle injury, but the Saints sent out an email Saturday saying that he did not fly with the team to Tampa.

That’s going to make life a lot easier for Tampa Bay’s defense because Graham presents unique matchup problems for any team he faces. His size, speed and athleticism make it difficult for linebackers or defensive backs to cover him.

Backup David Thomas likely will get the start. Thomas is a versatile tight end with dependable hands, but he doesn’t have anything close to the big-play capability Graham possesses.

Third-string tight end Daniel Graham likely will get playing time as the second tight end, but he’s much more of a blocker than a receiving threat.

That should allow Tampa Bay’s linebackers and defensive backs to devote more attention to New Orleans’ wide receivers and running back Darren Sproles.
There are some pretty significant injuries around the division as the NFC South teams prepare for Sunday’s games.

Let’s start with the Carolina Panthers. Cornerback Chris Gamble (shoulder) is listed as out for Sunday’s game with Dallas. More significantly, coach Ron Rivera said Gamble will have an MRI on his labrum. If the labrum is torn, Gamble will go on injured reserve.

Losing the team’s best cornerback would be a huge blow to a defense that already is struggling. In the short term, Captain Munnerlyn is expected to start in Gamble’s place. But Munnerlyn will slide to nickel back in certain packages, and rookie Josh Thomas is likely to get plenty of playing time.

The Panthers also are listing middle linebacker Jon Beason (knee) as doubtful. But Rivera took that one step further and said Beason is “very doubtful.’’ It seems likely rookie Luke Kuechly will start at middle linebacker.

The Saints also have some significant injuries heading into Sunday’s game at Tampa Bay. Linebacker David Hawthorne (hamstring) has been declared out, but linebacker Scott Shanle, who missed the past two days with an illness, returned to practice Friday and is listed as probable. The Saints also are listing tight end Jimmy Graham (ankle) as questionable. He practiced on a limited basis Friday. If Graham can’t play, David Thomas likely would get the start with Daniel Graham getting playing time as the No. 2 tight end.

The Buccaneers appear relatively healthy. Receiver Vincent Jackson (calf) is listed as probable and practiced on a limited basis Friday. Guard Carl Nicks (foot) participated fully in practice and is listed as probable.

Saints, Panthers still banged up

October, 18, 2012
10/18/12
4:53
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It’s starting to look as if the bye week wasn’t as kind to the Carolina Panthers and New Orleans Saints as it is to most teams.

The Saints and Panthers each had a bye last week and that usually helps a team move toward getting healthy. But that formula doesn’t seem to be helping with some key injuries.

Carolina middle linebacker Jon Beason (knee) missed another day of practice. Beason also missed the game prior to the bye. Although coach Ron Rivera still held out some hope Beason might be able to play Sunday against Dallas, it’s sounding like that might be a long shot.

It also is sounding like it might be time for the Panthers to make a decision on where they want rookie linebacker Luke Kuechly to play for the long term. Kuechly, who played in the middle in college, opened the season at outside linebacker.

Kuechly moved to the middle when Beason sat out the game with Seattle before the bye. I’m thinking the Panthers may be close to moving Kuechly to the middle on a permanent basis.

Beason isn’t the only injury concern for the Panthers. Cornerback Chris Gamble was put back on the injury report and held out of Thursday’s practice. Gamble sat out the Seattle game, but returned to practice Wednesday and aggravated a shoulder injury. If Gamble can’t play against Dallas, Captain Munnerlyn likely would get the start.

The news was only slightly better in New Orleans. Tight end Jimmy Graham (ankle) returned to practice on a limited basis. Graham injured the ankle in the game against San Diego before the bye and interim coach Aaron Kromer said it still is too early to tell if he’ll be able to play Sunday at Tampa Bay. If Graham can’t go, David Thomas would get the start and Daniel Graham likely would get additional playing time. Outside linebacker David Hawthorne (hamstring) missed his eighth straight practice and it appears unlikely he'll be ready for Sunday.

NFC South afternoon update

August, 16, 2012
8/16/12
4:22
PM ET
We’re still a few hours away from the Atlanta Falcons’ preseason game with the Cincinnati Bengals, so let’s take a run through some headlines from around the rest of the division:
  • Carolina quarterback Cam Newton, who attempted just six passes in the exhibition opener, will get extended playing time in Friday night’s preseason game with Miami. Coach Ron Rivera said Newton and the other starters are expected to play the first half.
  • Rookie hazing has kind of eased up in the NFL in recent years. But veterans can still have some fun with rookies. A good example of that came when some veteran Panthers had a little fun with a Jeep owned by rookie receiver Brenton Bersin.
  • Veteran tight end Daniel Graham said he only wanted to play this season if it was with a championship contender. When the New Orleans Saints called, he pounced on the offer. You can’t question that one. Even with all the adversity the Saints have faced this offseason, they still have enough roster on their talent to be one of the league’s top teams.
  • Three of Tampa Bay’s rookies reflect on their first training camp. That stretch is over, but they still know there’s a lot of work to be done between now and the start of the regular season and the routine isn’t going to change all that much.
The New Orleans Saints announced some roster moves Saturday afternoon. They signed veteran tight end Daniel Graham, cornerback Nick Hixson and guard Paul Fenaroli. They also waived linebacker Nate Bussey, cornerback A.J. Davis and guard Andrew Tiller, a sixth-round draft pick this year.

Tiller is expected to be re-signed and placed on injured reserve if he clears waivers.

The most interesting of the additions is Graham. He’s an 11th-year player, who had 117 career starts with the New England Patriots. The Saints have been a little banged up at tight end with starter Jimmy Graham sitting out Thursday’s preseason game with what the team said was a minor injury. Veteran backup David Thomas has a history of injury problems and Daniel Graham could end up providing valuable veteran depth.

Around the NFC South

July, 21, 2012
7/21/12
10:10
AM ET
Let’s take a run through the headlines from around the NFC South.
  • D. Orlando Ledbetter reports the Falcons recently worked out veteran tight end Daniel Graham. The Falcons have a roster spot to fill after releasing linebacker Matt Hansen on Friday night.
  • John Manasso lays out five story lines for the Falcons as they get ready to start camp. He covers the big questions at middle linebacker and left tackle but also explores what the defense will look like with new coordinator Mike Nolan and how newly-acquired cornerback Asante Samuel will fit in.
  • The Times-Picayune continues its countdown of the top 25 Saints with wide receiver Marques Colston at No. 5. Mike Triplett writes that Colston may be valued more in an offense that doesn’t spread the ball around as much as the Saints. I think there’s a lot of truth in that. But Colston also was smart enough to realize he’s in a great situation with quarterback Drew Brees. That may be a big part of the reason why Colston re-signed with the Saints instead of leaving via free agency.
  • Here’s a Barry Wilner column that recites the litany of all the offseason drama the Saints have been through. Wilner writes that the Saints could have trouble overcoming all the adversity. That’s obviously a legitimate concern with coach Sean Payton suspended for the season. But I think the Saints still can have a successful season because they have a veteran roster that also happens to have plenty of talent.
  • In an answer to a question that came from many readers, Tampa Bay’s Aug. 22 and 23 workouts with the Patriots will not be open to the public. They come after training camp (and public workouts) ends. The Bucs and Patriots will play a preseason game at Raymond James Stadium on Aug. 24.
  • Bryan Strickland has an overview of Carolina’s situation at defensive end. Charles Johnson has 20.5 sacks over the past two seasons, but the rest of the team hasn’t been very productive in the pass rush. Greg Hardy is the incumbent as the other starter, but the Panthers likely will take long looks at Thomas Keiser, Antwan Applewhite and rookie Frank Alexander in the preseason.

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