NFC South: Jordan Shipley

Bucs capitalize on veteran benefit

September, 27, 2012
9/27/12
12:40
PM ET
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are a team that prides itself on building through the draft. But the Bucs stepped out of character a bit this week by signing veterans Roscoe Parrish and Jeff Charleston.

But these moves were exceptions and came due to necessity. The Bucs needed to add defensive end depth after losing Adrian Clayborn to a season-ending injury, so they went out and signed Charleston. Sammie Stroughter, who was supposed to be the punt returner, got hurt. The Bucs then signed Jordan Shipley, but he had trouble fielding punts and the Bucs released him and went out and signed Parrish.

What’s important to note here is that the Bucs didn’t panic and pay big money for short-term fill-ins. In fact, they invested as little as possible on Parrish and Charleston.

The Bucs took advantage of the veteran minimum salary benefit when signing both players to identical contracts. Officially, Parrish and Charleston signed one-year contracts worth $700,000 and no signing bonus. But subtract the first three game checks and Parrish and Charleston each will earn $576,470 over the rest of the season.

But the Bucs won’t be charged the full amount toward the salary cap. The veteran minimum benefit is designed to help keep veteran players in the league, by making the affordable under the salary cap and it allows their cap figure to be less than their actual salary.

Charleston and Parrish each will count only $444,705 toward this year’s cap.

That leaves the Bucs with $12.8 million (sixth most in the NFL) for this year. They still may have to make more moves this year. But by signing veterans like Charleston and Parrish, they’ve kept a lot of cap room available. That’s significant because the Bucs can carry some of that space over to next year and they already have a lot of money committed toward the 2013 cap.

Carolina is the only other NFC South team with a chance to carry over much money to next year’s cap. The Panthers currently are $5.25 million under this year’s cap. New Orleans is $3.2 million under and Atlanta is $1.15 million under.

Around the NFC South

September, 27, 2012
9/27/12
9:17
AM ET
Time for a team-by-team look at the Thursday morning headlines from around the division:

TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS

Dory LeBlanc writes that the Tampa Bay front four is looking for a performance similar to what it had against Dallas when it plays Washington this week. The Bucs did a good job putting pressure on Tony Romo, but they’re going to face a different style quarterback in Robert Griffin III. He’s a big-time running threat and stopping him won’t be easy, especially after losing defensive end Adrian Clayborn to a season-ending injury.

The Bucs will turn to veteran Roscoe Parrish as their third punt returner after Sammie Stroughter was injured and replacement Jordan Shipley struggled to field punts. Parrish had a lengthy and successful run in Buffalo. At this stage of his career, he might not be dynamic as he once was. But he should at least be able to field punts.

NEW ORLEANS SAINTS

With the team off to an 0-3 start, interim coach Aaron Kromer acknowledged that maybe the Saints were impacted by all the offseason distractions and didn’t prepare properly. I’m starting to think there’s some truth in that. But it’s still a bit surprising because this is a veteran team and coaching staff that should have simply been able to follow the system built by suspended coach Sean Payton.

As the regular NFL officials head back to work, New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees refused to blame the replacement officials for the team’s slow start. Brees has been critical of the replacement officials, but said they were placed in a tough spot. I don’t think the whole saga was good for anyone, but I don’t think any calls by the replacement officials cost the Saints victories. The team was responsible for creating its own problems.

CAROLINA PANTHERS

Former Carolina defensive tackle Terrell McClain has landed with New England. A third-round pick in 2011, McClain got lots of playing time as a rookie. But, in a mysterious move, McClain was cut in the preseason. I strongly suspect something was going on behind the scenes and the move was about more than football ability. The guy has some potential and New England coach Bill Belichick has had some success with reclamation projects in the past.

Linebacker Thomas Davis said the Panthers still believe they can make good on center Ryan Kalil’s promise of a Super Bowl championship. That may sound a little shaky after a 1-2 start. Carolina still has a lot of talent, but the Panthers better start turning things around soon if they’re even going to have a chance at the playoffs.

The Panthers are turning back to Kealoha Pilares as their main kickoff returner. That’s a good move because rookie Joe Adams had some issues with fumbles. Adams still has plenty of upside, but I think a little time on the sideline and some more work in practice might be the best thing for him at the moment.

ATLANTA FALCONS

Former Tampa Bay safety and current Fox analyst John Lynch says Atlanta safeties William Moore and Thomas DeCoud have gone from being “just guys’’ to taking their play to the next level. He’s right. Moore and DeCoud are off to great starts under new coordinator Mike Nolan. If they continue on their current pace, both could be candidates for the Pro Bowl.

Fullback Lousaka Polite missed Wednesday’s practice with a hamstring injury. This injury is worth keeping an eye on because the Falcons figure to test a Carolina run defense that hasn’t been very good on Sunday. If Polite is out, the Falcons likely will have to use running back Jason Snelling as a blocker in some situations.

Buccaneers switch return men

September, 25, 2012
9/25/12
6:37
PM ET
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have given up on receiver/return man Jordan Shipley -- again.

Two days after Shipley failed to handle a punt return in a loss to Dallas, the Buccaneers have waived him. They also waived Shipley at the end of the preseason, after claiming him off waivers from Cincinnati.

The Bucs filled Shipley’s roster spot by signing veteran return man/receiver Roscoe Parrish.

In the last seven seasons with Buffalo, Parrish had 135 punt returns for 1,622 yards and three touchdowns. His 12.0-yard career punt return average ranks second to Devin Hester (12.8) among current players.

Parrish also has 134 career pass receptions for 1,502 yards and seven touchdowns and has returned 29 kickoffs for 685 yards.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are in a tight game at Dallas.

The Cowboys are leading 10-7 at halftime in a game that’s been dominated by the defenses.

Tampa Bay got an early break when cornerback Aqib Talib intercepted Tony Romo. That set up the Tampa Bay offense for a quick touchdown.

But it’s not just the Cowboys who are handing out free points. The Bucs basically have handed Dallas 10 points. Late in the first quarter, quarterback Josh Freeman was intercepted. Freeman’s pass went off the hands and facemask of running back D.J. Ware, but you have to wonder if Freeman might have been better off putting a little touch on the ball, instead of throwing a Nolan Ryan fastball. DeMarco Murray quickly followed that up with a touchdown run.

The Bucs also set up a Dallas field goal when Jordan Shipley, who was re-signed a couple days ago, failed to handle a punt and Dallas recovered.

Tampa Bay’s defense is playing pretty well. But the offense hasn’t been able to put together anything on a consistent basis since the first drive. If the Bucs are going to have any shot at winning this game, they need much better production from their offense in the second half.

Feel free to share your thoughts on the Bucs in the comments section below. I'll be back with a wrap-up soon after the game ends.

More shuffling at WR for Buccaneers

September, 21, 2012
9/21/12
11:13
AM ET
The revolving door at wide receiver continues for the Buccaneers.

The team just announced it has placed receiver Sammie Stroughter on injured reserve and signed receiver Chris Owusu.

That comes in a week in which the team signed receivers Tiquan Underwood and Jordan Shipley and released Preston Parker. Stroughter was used as a backup receiver and punt returner in the first two games, but suffered a foot injury.

Owusu comes from San Diego’s practice squad after spending the preseason with San Francisco. Owusu was an undrafted free agent out of Stanford this year.

The Bucs are set with Mike Williams and Vincent Jackson as their starters and are hoping Arrelious Benn can stay healthy and be the third receiver, but the Bucs need some of the new guys to step up and provide depth.

Buccaneers shuffling wide receivers

September, 20, 2012
9/20/12
11:58
AM ET
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers continue to fiddle with their wide receiver corps.

The team just announced it has re-signed Tiquan Underwood and released Preston Parker.

That comes on the heels of the Bucs signing Jordan Shipley. Coach Greg Schiano has indicated that Sammie Stroughter’s foot injury could keep the receiver out for a substantial period.

With Underwood and Shipley, the Bucs appear to be attempting to beef up their depth behind Vincent Jackson, Mike Williams and Arrelious Benn.

Underwood, who played for Schiano at Rutgers, was with the Bucs in the preseason and gave a strong showing. Many were surprised when he was released. Underwood showed some big-play capability and the Bucs could use some of that from someone other than Jackson.

NFC South evening update

September, 19, 2012
9/19/12
6:43
PM ET
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Time for a look at the Wednesday afternoon headlines from around the NFL.

CAROLINA PANTHERS

Let’s start this one off with a fantasy-football alert. Carolina running back Jonathan Stewart could miss Thursday night’s game due to a toe injury. Stewart hasn’t practiced all week. If he can’t play, expect more carries for DeAngelo Williams and fullback Mike Tolbert also could get some time at tailback.

The Panthers may be catching a bit of a break because the Giants are banged up. The Giants said running back Ahmad Bradshaw, receiver Domenik Hixon and tackle David Diehl will not play in Thursday night’s game due to injuries. Andre Brown is expected to take over most of Bradshaw’s duties.

ATLANTA FALCONS

Running back Michael Turner apologized to ownership, coaches and fans for being charged with DUI. Turner said he expects to play Sunday against the Chargers, the team he began his career with. Turner could face discipline at some point, but I think that’s down the road, after his case moves through the legal system.

Coach Mike Smith is pleased with what he’s seen from left tackle Sam Baker so far this season. While fans were spending the offseason screaming for Baker to be released, the Falcons stood by him, saying they believe he’s a competent player when healthy. So far, he’s been healthy, so maybe the Falcons knew what they were talking about.

NEW ORLEANS SAINTS

The Saints are saying all the right things about their 0-2 start. They realize they’ve dug a hole, but keep pointing to how this team has dealt with adversity well in the past. That’s true. But if the Saints don’t win Sunday against Kansas City, this season could be over in a hurry.

You probably saw Drew Brees limping around a bit after hurting his ankle Sunday against Carolina. The Saints listed Brees on the injury report Wednesday, but the good news is it doesn’t sound like anything to worry about. Brees participated fully in Wednesday’s practice.

TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS

The Giants continue to gripe about the Bucs going all out when they were in the victory formation Sunday. The Giants have every right to voice their opinions on this, but they might be wise to move on from this. They’ve got another game coming up in just over 24 hours.

A lot of people thought the Bucs signed receiver Jordan Shipley because they were concerned about an injury to Preston Parker. As it turned out, they’re more concerned about a foot injury to receiver Sammie Stroughter. Coach Greg Schiano said Stroughter’s injury could be "long term." Parker practiced fully Wednesday.

Around the NFC South

September, 18, 2012
9/18/12
4:15
PM ET
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Temporary NFC South Blog headquarters are set up back in the Queen City, where I soon will start looking ahead to Thursday night’s game between the Panthers and Giants.

But, first, let’s take a look at the headlines from around the rest of the division:

TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS

The Bucs re-signed receiver Jordan Shipley, who briefly was with the team in the preseason. Consider that an indication that receiver Preston Parker is likely to miss some time with a foot injury. Shipley showed great promise as a slot receiver with the Bengals early in his career. But he suffered a major knee injury and the Bengals released him during the preseason and the Bucs picked him up. Shipley didn’t look like he had re-gained his full speed in the preseason. But, if he can get back to full health, he could provide a nice boost for the receiving corps.

The replacement officials are getting criticized after Monday night’s game between Atlanta and Denver. But Stephen Holder points out some missed calls might have played a role in Tampa Bay’s loss to the New York Giants on Sunday. This whole situation has gotten out of hand and the quality of the game is suffering. The NFL needs to do whatever it takes to get the regular officials back to work as soon as possible.

NEW ORLEANS SAINTS

Former New Orleans defensive coordinator Gregg Williams was at the center of the bounty drama early on, but he had seemed to fade in recent months. That now has changed. Williams has been subpoenaed in the defamation lawsuit by linebacker Jonathan Vilma against NFL commissioner Roger Goodell. If that case ever makes it to trial and Williams has to testify, things could get fascinating. Williams and Vilma were very close when they worked together, but Williams reportedly has given the NFL a statement that says Vilma offered a $10,000 bounty for anyone that knocked Minnesota quarterback Brett Favre out of the game in the 2009 postseason.

A day after Vilma met with Goodell in New York, defensive end Will Smith and former New Orleans defensive lineman Anthony Hargrove had their meetings with the commissioner. Former New Orleans linebacker Scott Fujita, now with the Cleveland Browns, also was scheduled to attend. But Fujita backed out of his meeting, saying it was more important to stay in Cleveland.

CAROLINA PANTHERS

Cornerback Captain Munnerlyn isn’t happy about losing his starting job to rookie Josh Norman. That’s understandable. Munnerlyn is a competitor and has lots of pride. But he can still turn this situation into a positive. He still is getting plenty of playing time and is only an injury away from starting again. He also is in the final year of his rookie contract. If he stays focused and performs well, he can get a shot at a starting job elsewhere next season.

Tom Sorensen writes that Carolina’s $89 million investment in contracts for running backs DeAngelo Williams, Jonathan Stewart and Mike Tolbert is worth every penny. I agree. Quarterback Cam Newton is the franchise and the passing game is very important, but Newton can be much more dangerous with good running backs behind him.

ATLANTA FALCONS

Mark Bradley writes that the Atlanta secondary might have had its finest game since the NFC Championship Game against Minnesota in the 1998 season. That’s a strong statement, but the secondary was very impressive against Denver on Monday night. The Falcons intercepted Peyton Manning three times in the first quarter. Who does that? What’s more impressive is that the Falcons did it without nickel back Christopher Owens, who missed much of the game after suffering a concussion, and were briefly without Asante Samuel, who was shaken up, but returned to the game. Backups Dominique Franks and Robert McClain stepped in and made big contributions.

Former Falcons linebacker Keith Brooking, now with Denver, did not have a good homecoming Monday. Part of it was because the Broncos lost and part of it was because Brooking drew boos from the fans. That’s understandable because Brooking taunted the Falcons after he went to play for the Dallas Cowboys and fans remember that -- at least for now. However, somewhere down the road (and it will take a few more years), Brooking, who played high school and college football in Georgia, will end up being remembered as one of the most popular Falcons ever.

Around the NFC South

August, 30, 2012
8/30/12
9:57
AM ET
Let's take a look at the top Thursday morning headlines from around the division:

ATLANTA FALCONS

D. Orlando Ledbetter takes a look at how the roster might shape up. He says undrafted rookie quarterback Dominique Davis is on the bubble and says the Falcons may try to get him on their practiced squad. Davis has had a great preseason and the Falcons would have to first waive him to get him on the practice squad. That would be dangerous because another team could scoop up Davis.

Sports Illustrated picks the Falcons to win the NFC South. Keep in mind, the magazine picked the Falcons to win the Super Bowl last season. We’ll have our season previews and predictions a bit later on Thursday. Stay tuned.

CAROLINA PANTHERS

Coach Ron Rivera would not say definitively if he plans to play his starters in Thursday’s preseason finale. You might see some of the starters play a little bit. But you also may see Rivera do the same thing Tampa Bay coach Greg Schiano did Wednesday night and hold out his starters completely.

The preseason finale could be the end of Armanti Edwards’ time in Carolina. The Panthers drafted the former Appalachian State quarterback in 2010 and the thinking was that he could make the transition and become a dynamic return man. Edwards’ first two years were hugely disappointing. He did have a good training camp this year, but he clearly is on the bubble as the Panthers debate whether to carry six or seven receivers on the roster.

NEW ORLEANS SAINTS

Nakia Hogan has the latest on Jonathan Vilma’s attempt to get his season-long suspension overturned. A hearing will be heard by an appeals board. Vilma is appealing an arbitrator’s decision that NFL commissioner Roger Goodell did not have jurisdiction to suspend Vilma and three other current or former Saints for their roles in what the league says was a three-year bounty program. U.S. District Judge Ginger Berrigan previously has said she’d feel more comfortable ruling on Vilma’s request for a temporary restraining order after the appeals process with the NFL was exhausted.

Rookie Nick Toon and Joseph Morgan could be in a battle for the final spot at receiver. Toon’s preseason has been thrown off a bit by injury. But, as long as he’s completely healthy, I think the fourth-round draft pick makes the roster.

TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS

Receiver Jordan Shipley has been with the Bucs for only a week. That’s why the team won’t go only on what it’s seen in a handful of practices and brief preseason action in deciding Shipley’s roster fate. The Bucs will look closely at Shipley’s tape from his time in Cincinnati. Shipley had a nice rookie season for the Bengals in 2010, but tore up his knee last year. The Bengals apparently didn’t believe Shipley had gotten his speed back. Now, it’s up to the Bucs to decide if Shipley’s knee is healthy enough to keep him around.

Defensive backs Sean Baker, Keith Tandy and Leonard Johnson have used the preseason to strengthen their cases for roster spots. The problem is there might be only one spot remaining at defensive back.

Countdown to Bucs' game

August, 29, 2012
8/29/12
6:11
PM ET
The final week of the preseason is about to begin.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers play at Washington on Wednesday night at 7. The Saints, Falcons and Panthers each are scheduled to play their final exhibition contest on Thursday night.

Let’s get ready for the Bucs’ game by checking out some headlines:
  • Dory LeBlanc has a list of five things to watch. She starts it off with the chemistry of the offensive line. This is a huge issue after the Bucs lost Pro Bowl guard Davin Joseph to a season-ending injury. The Bucs want to take a look at several players (Ted Larsen, Jamon Meredith and Derek Hardman are the candidates) at right guard. But it might be tough to develop much chemistry in this game because the starters aren’t expected to stay in for long.
  • Stephen Holder has a list of five players to watch in the final preseason game. Receiver Jordan Shipley is on there and it’s tough to get a read on if he’ll make the team. Shipley has been with the Bucs for only a week, after being claimed off waivers from the Bengals. Shipley had a knee injury last year and the Bucs need to get a good look at him before they cut down their roster to 53 on Friday.
  • Speaking of trimming the roster, Roy Cummings points out that cornerback Myron Lewis might be on the bubble. Lewis seems to have dropped off after getting off to a fast start in training camp.
  • Speaking of guys that might be on the bubble, Mark Cooks has a list of offensive players that might have a tough time making the team. One of them is running back Mossis Madu. He’s right on the fringe. Doug Martin and LeGarrette Blount are locks to make the team and rookie Michael Smith appears to be ahead of Madu on the depth chart. Madu’s only shot at a roster spot may come only if the Bucs decide to carry four running backs.

I’ll be back with observations on the Bucs soon after the game ends. Meantime, feel free to use the comments section below to share your thoughts on what you see out of the Bucs.
Before I start getting ready to head out to Raymond James Stadium for the preseason game between the Buccaneers and Patriots, let’s take a team-by-team look at the highlights from Friday’s NFC South chat.

ATLANTA FALCONS

Tony (Richmond, CA): How much productivity does Michael Turner have left in the tank to give the Falcons?

Pat Yasinskas: He's not washed up. He's just not going to get 300 carries. I think he'll still get somewhere around 250 carries and be an important part of the offense.

Chris (Missouri): Who appears to have the inside track on winning the Falcons left tackle job?

Pat Yasinskas: It's Baker's job. Not even a competition. Only way that changes is if he gets hurt or starts the season off really badly.

rick (Atlanta): Do you see Atlanta picking up a backup for Baker...? If so, who is out there?

Pat Yasinskas: Nobody out there right now. But could be some guys available when rosters get trimmed. Think Falcons want to see Holmes in the final two preseason games and decide if he's ready to be the backup or if they need a little insurance.

CAROLINA PANTHERS

Q Dove (greensboro nc) [via mobile]: I see that every team in the nfc south beside the panthers has had a practice with another team (new england) are we going to have a joint practice with anyone?

Pat Yasinskas: Nothing scheduled this year. Thinking back on Fox and Seifert days, I can't remember them doing it then either. Not sure on the Capers era. Don't know that Rivera and Hurney are big proponents of that concept. (Update: After I answered this, I did remember the Panthers once hosted the Detroit Lions for a joint practice. It was a long time ago. Pretty sure Barry Sanders still was with the Lions).

Andy (NC): Will Gary Barnidge be able to match the production that shockey had last year, or does it get shifted more to Olsen?

Pat Yasinskas: I don't think Barnidge will quite match Shockey's numbers. I do think Barnidge brings some positives, but I think it's more a case of Olsen's numbers rising.

Andy (NC): If the Panthers have another great offensive seaon (top 5), will Richardson & Hurney be able to hold on to coach Chud, or would it cost too much considering the head coaching offers he is likely to recieve?

Pat Yasinskas: If they have another good season on offense, Chudzinski definitely will be a head coach somewhere next season.

NEW ORLEANS SAINTS

Matt(tupelo) [via mobile]: What do you think about the saints defense? I'm amazed how people tear up lofton I think he was a great signing.

Pat Yasinskas: People are criticizing the Lofton signing? I haven't seen that. I think that might have been best move Saints made in the offseason. Think he's a very solid LB, who will be playing with a chip on his shoulder this year.

Robert (Wilmington): What happens when Kromer wants something done and the DC or OC who outrank him every week of the year except those 1st 6 this season disagree strongly? Or when Loomis divided charges have counter viewpoints? Seems like the chain of command is completely muddy. Will this become ugly if there are a couple of early loses?

Pat Yasinskas: It's far from an ideal situation, but I think they've set it up as well as they possibly could. Most of those guys have worked together for a long time and, even though Spags is new to Saints, he's a pro.

TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS

Nicolas (Parkland,FL): Do you think that Jordan Shipley or Tiquan Underwood has a chance to be the starting slot receiver?

Pat Yasinskas: Underwood maybe. Not sure what Shipley has left. There was a reason why Bengals cut him.

Macee (Michigan): How do you see Bucs LB Mason Foster this year? Seemed a tad lost last year but I got a funny feeling he's one of the top tacklers in the NFL by seasons end.

Pat Yasinskas: Think he'll be much improved with what should be better coaching. Would also help him a lot if McCoy can stay healthy.

Ashor Daniel (Chicago IL): Pat, As the Bucs I would really consider MJD in the bucs back field, in return giving back Blount and Mr trouble maker at corner. I think they would be instant playoff contenders.

Pat Yasinskas: And what makes you think Jags would want Talib and Blount?

Here’s the complete transcript of Friday’s NFC South chat.

NFC South afternoon update

August, 23, 2012
8/23/12
5:50
PM ET
It’s time for our afternoon look at what’s going on across the NFC South:

TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS

The Bucs have rearranged their locker room so that players are no longer surrounded by their position group. Coach Greg Schiano wouldn’t go into a lengthy explanation. But I think you can read between the lines with one example -- LeGarrette Blount's locker is now next to Ronde Barber's. I think it’s fair to say that Blount’s a guy that hasn’t always been completely focused, while Barber’s a veteran with a reputation for being a dedicated professional. It’s pretty obvious the Bucs are hoping some of Barber will wear off on Blount.

The first wave of roster cuts (to 75 players) don’t have to come until Monday. But the Bucs went ahead and released three of their undrafted free agents.

Although he’s only practiced three times since being claimed off waivers, receiver Jordan Shipley is expected to get some playing time in Friday night’s preseason game. The Bucs might as well throw Shipley out there and see what he’s got because they’re going to have to be making more roster decisions pretty quickly.

ATLANTA FALCONS

Mark Bradley looks at the Falcons schedule and projects how they’ll fare in the regular season. He has them going 12-4 and winning the NFC South. It’s at least possible. One thing to note -- Bradley has the Falcons going 6-0 against division opponents.

Safety Shann Schillinger will miss the preseason game with the Dolphins due to a foot injury. This is somewhat significant because Schillinger seemingly is in a battle with rookie Charles Mitchell for the final safety spot.

NEW ORLEANS SAINTS

Running back Mark Ingram said he doesn’t think that his development has been hurt as the Saints have limited his practice time during the preseason. Ingram said he still does mental reps during practices. The Saints have been cautious with Ingram because he dealt with several injuries as a rookie last year. I think the goal is to just make sure Ingram is totally healthy for the start of the season.

Special teams coordinator Greg McMahon said the kicking battle between Garrett Hartley and John Kasay will go right down to the wire. This is one of the best kicking battles I’ve ever seen because it features two guys who have made some very big kicks. Whichever one loses out in New Orleans will end up kicking for someone else this season.

CAROLINA PANTHERS

Coach Ron Rivera said receiver Steve Smith’s injured foot is improving, but the team will be cautious on when he returns to the field. That’s the only way to go on this one. Smith’s a veteran and doesn’t need preseason games to prove anything.

NFC South evening update

August, 21, 2012
8/21/12
5:40
PM ET
Time for a look at the day's top headlines from around the NFC South:

ATLANTA FALCONS

According to Daniel Cox, Atlanta cornerback Dunta Robinson believes the Falcons can have the league’s No. 1 pass defense. That’s a very lofty goal, but I do think the Falcons have the talent to be very good in the secondary. Of course, for that talent to truly excel, the Falcons could use a little more help from the pass rush.

Although the Falcons have made plenty of noise about limiting Michael Turner’s workload, coach Mike Smith reiterated Tuesday that Turner will remain an integral part of the offense and remains the No. 1 back. Forget the conspiracy theories on this one. The Falcons mean what they’re saying. Turner still is going to be their top running back, but the days of giving him more than 300 carries in a season are over. Jacquizz Rodgers will get increased carries, but he’s not going to get nearly as many as Turner.

TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS

This story is about the Jacksonville Jaguars, but Tampa Bay fans should be glad that it’s not about their team. The Jaguars have announced they’ll play one home game in London each of the next four years. It’s not at all a stretch to imagine the Jaguars eventually making their permanent home in London because that seems to be something commissioner Roger Goodell really seems to want. It wasn’t all that long ago the Bucs appeared to be the favorite for London. But the Glazer family pulled out of the London rotation, saying they had some things they wanted to try to work out their attendance issues in Tampa Bay. I’m not sure the Bucs have those attendance issues worked out, but at least they’re making an effort.

Receiver Jordan Shipley, claimed off waivers from Cincinnati by Tampa Bay on Monday, said he’s fully recovered from the knee injury he suffered last year. I’m not sure the Bengals agree with that or else they might have held onto him. The Bucs are giving Shipley a look as a slot receiver and return man.

Former Tampa Bay coach Jon Gruden will be profiled on HBO’s “Real Sports’’ on Tuesday night.


NEW ORLEANS SAINTS

Some encouraging news out of New Orleans, where middle linebacker Curtis Lofton says he’ll be ready for the regular-season opener. Lofton has a high-ankle sprain. It’s great that Lofton is so optimistic, but his type of injury sometimes can drag on longer than a player would like.

The Saints have some injury issues at wide receiver. But quarterback Drew Brees said the guys that are healthy have to pick up the slack.

Defensive end Turk McBride and running back Darren Sproles returned to practice Tuesday after missing time with injuries.

CAROLINA PANTHERS

Bryan Strickland has a column on the phenomenon that is Carolina quarterback Cam Newton. He already gets more media and fan attention than any of player in franchise history. But teammates say that Newton truly is one of the guys. That’s not just the company line. I heard the same thing repeatedly from Newton’s teammates when I visited during training camp.

Max Henson has a feature on linebacker James Anderson, who might be the forgotten man in Carolina’s linebacker corps. First-round draft pick Luke Kuechly obviously is getting a lot of attention and so are veterans Jon Beason and Thomas Davis as they return from injuries. But Anderson showed his worth last year and I think he could still be in the starting lineup this season.

NFC South evening update

August, 20, 2012
8/20/12
5:38
PM ET
Let’s make a quick swoop through some NFC South headlines on a day when much of the news involves the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
  • Tampa Bay reportedly claimed receiver Jordan Shipley off waivers from Cincinnati. The Bucs are taking a bit of a leap here. Shipley hasn’t been the same since tearing his ACL. If he can somehow get his speed back, he could be a good fit as a slot receiver. If Shipley doesn’t have anything left, it’s not like the Bucs paid a big price for him.
  • Tampa Bay left tackle Donald Penn, who had been out with a calf injury, returned to practice Monday. Coach Greg Schiano said there may have been a silver lining to Penn’s injury. I get his point. Penn is a big guy and, in past seasons, he didn’t appear to be in consistently great shape. Penn spent all of training camp working on his conditioning and that may help him hold up better in the regular season.
  • Amazingly, running back LeGarrette Blount was back at practice Monday and worked with no limitations. Blount suffered a groin injury in Friday’s preseason game. At first, the injury appeared serious, but Blount didn’t miss any time.
  • The Bucs stepped slightly out of character Monday, signing veteran cornerback Brandon McDonald. This team usually goes with youth. McDonald has some experience as a starter. I think the Bucs are set with Eric Wright and Aqib Talib as their starters, but E.J. Biggers and Anthony Gaitor have been banged up. If they’re not ready by the start of the regular season, McDonald could have a shot at a roster spot.
  • With injuries to linebackers Curtis Lofton, David Hawthorne and Chris Chamberlain, New Orleans assistant head coach Joe Vitt said the team’s pro personnel people will keep an eye on what’s available. Translation: The Saints will be signing a linebacker or two before long.
  • Carolina coach Ron Rivera said linebacker Thomas Davis could play in the next preseason game. Davis is trying to recover from his third torn ACL. Ordinarily, I’m in favor of being extremely cautious with injured players in the preseason. But Davis’ case is different. He’s had plenty of time to heal and the Panthers need to find out if he has anything left.
  • Atlanta coach Mike Smith announced backup left tackle Will Svitek will miss the season with an arm injury. That leaves rookie Lamar Holmes as the top backup behind Sam Baker. I think that means there’s a chance the Falcons could keep an eye out for backup tackles as other teams begin trimming their rosters.

Bucs need more YAC

April, 13, 2010
4/13/10
9:47
AM ET
It’s blatantly obvious the Buccaneers have a glaring need at wide receiver. Let’s go ahead and make it even more obvious.

According to our friends at ESPN Stats & Information, the Bucs ranked last in the league in yards after the catch (YAC). Just 34.3 percent of their passing yards came after the catch. The Falcons ranked No. 31 at 37 percent. The Bucs had 3,134 gross passing yards last season, but only 1,076 of them came after the catch.

After letting No. 1 receiver Antonio Bryant go through free agency, the Bucs haven’t done very much at wide receiver. They added Reggie Brown, but it’s almost certain they’ll take a receiver somewhere early in the draft.

It’s unlikely that will come with the No. 3 overall pick because the Bucs have an even greater need at defensive tackle. But the Bucs hold two second-round picks and it’s a good bet that one of them will be used on a wide receiver. They clearly need someone who can make things happen after the catch and guys like Notre Dame’s Golden Tate or Texas’ Jordan Shipley could be available in the second round.

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