NFC South: Lousaka Polite

Looking at Falcons' offensive snaps

February, 12, 2013
Considering injuries played such a big part in holding him back the first four years of his career, Atlanta tackle Sam Baker reached a remarkable milestone in the 2012 season. The left tackle did not miss a single snap.

Baker participated in all of Atlanta’s 1,060 offensive plays. So did guard Justin Blalock.

Let’s take a look at the rest of the playing time percentages for the rest of Atlanta’s offense.

Can the Falcons make the Super Bowl?

November, 15, 2012
NFC: Giants | 49ers | Packers | Falcons AFC: Patriots | Broncos | Ravens | Texans

After a loss to New Orleans on Sunday, a lot of people started to write off Atlanta as “the same old Falcons."

You know, the team that can’t win the big one. The team that hasn’t won a single playoff game since the arrivals of coach Mike Smith and quarterback Matt Ryan in 2008.

I’m not jumping on that bandwagon because, despite what happened Sunday, I think this is a different Atlanta team. I think the Falcons are going to the Super Bowl.

That belief doesn’t stem simply from the fact that I have to pick one NFC South team to reach the Super Bowl for this post. I honestly believe the Falcons will reach the Super Bowl, and I think what happened against the Saints will help get them there.

The close loss to their biggest rival might be just what the Falcons needed to start moving toward their full potential. That’s something they hadn’t done in their first eight games. They came into New Orleans undefeated, but too many of those victories were close calls against inferior teams.

The Falcons might be the most talented team in football, but they’ve put together only a couple of complete games this season. For a bit, that had me wondering whether they really were the same old Falcons. I was starting to wonder whether Smith was the second coming of Tony Dungy in Tampa Bay just over a decade ago -- too nice of a guy to be able to win the big ones.

But I like the way Smith reacted to the loss in New Orleans. On Monday, the Falcons released highly paid but underachieving defensive end Ray Edwards. They did the same sort of thing the week before when they released starting fullback Lousaka Polite.

Edwards and Polite simply weren’t getting the job done. In the past, Smith might have turned a blind eye. But this isn’t last year.

Much has been made about how new coordinators Dirk Koetter and Mike Nolan have brought a new attitude on both sides of the ball. There’s some truth to that.

But the biggest change of all is Smith. In a league where nice guys finish last, or at least lose in the playoffs, Smith is taking a tougher approach.

That’s sending a clear message to the Falcons that the status quo isn’t good enough. Smith knows it and the players know it, and that’s why the Falcons will reach the Super Bowl.

Saints and Falcons have 'the drops'

October, 10, 2012
The Atlanta Falcons and New Orleans Saints have one thing in common.

They lead the NFL in dropped passes, according to ESPN Stats & Information. The Falcons and Saints each have 15 drops.

That hasn’t been a problem for the Buccaneers and Panthers, who each have six drops.

Let’s take a little closer look at what’s going wrong for the Falcons and Saints in this department.

Atlanta’s Julio Jones is second in the league with five drops, only one behind Dallas’ Jason Witten. Jones easily has been the biggest culprit for the Falcons. Tony Gonzalez and Michael Turner each have two drops. Roddy White, who led the league with 15 drops last season, has only one. Same for Harry Douglas, Jacquizz Rodgers and Lousaka Polite.

But here’s the one that really jumped out at me about the Falcons. Joe Hawley has dropped the two passes he’s been thrown, which begs one question -- why are the Falcons throwing to Joe Hawley? I know he’s had to play a little at fullback and tight end due to some injuries. But Hawley’s an offensive lineman. I don’t care if he’s wide open, you don’t even throw the ball in his direction.

The Saints are getting their drops mostly from strength in numbers. Jimmy Graham and Marques Colston each have four drops, which ties them with a bunch of other players for third in the league. Darren Sproles and Lance Moore each have three drops. Joseph Morgan has New Orleans’ other drop.

LANDOVER, Md. -- Thoughts on the Atlanta Falcons’ 24-17 victory against the Washington Redskins at FedEx Field on Sunday.

What it means: The Falcons are 5-0 for the first time in franchise history. They’re also high atop the NFC South standings. This was not a particularly pretty game, but there’s a nice trend developing. The Falcons, who many view as a “dome team," have won three outdoor games already this season. This one came on a day that was cool and rainy.

Play of the day: With the Redskins driving, cornerback Dunta Robinson saved the game for the Falcons with an interception with 1:53 remaining.

Hit of the day: Linebacker Sean Weatherspoon knocked Washington quarterback Robert Griffin III out of the game with a big hit in the third quarter. The Redskins said Griffin was “shaken up," and he did not return to the game. He was replaced by Kirk Cousins, who threw two fourth-quarter interceptions.

One thing I never want to see again: Joe Hawley attempting to catch a pass. With fullback Lousaka Polite out with an injury, the Falcons sometimes used Hawley as a blocking back. But with 5:50 left in the third quarter, the Falcons tried to throw a pass to Hawley. He was wide open, but the ball went right off his hands. When you have the talent at the skill positions that the Falcons have, Hawley should never be thrown the ball.

He never gets old: Atlanta tight end Tony Gonzalez has said he’s 95 percent sure he’ll retire after this season. He might want to rethink that. Gonzalez had a huge day, catching 13 passes for 123 yards.

What’s next: The Falcons host the Oakland Raiders next Sunday.

Polite, Palmer out for Falcons

October, 7, 2012
LANDOVER, Md. -- The Atlanta Falcons will be without starting fullback Lousaka Polite and reserve tight end Michael Palmer in Sunday’s game against the Washington Redskins.

Polite is sidelined with a hamstring injury and Palmer has been bothered by a shoulder injury. The Falcons can use running back Jason Snelling as a fullback. When Palmer and Polite were injured last week, the Falcons also used offensive linemen Mike Johnson and Joe Hawley at tight end and fullback.

The other inactives for the Falcons are quarterback Dominique Davis, cornerback Terrence Johnson, offensive tackle Lamar Holmes, defensive end Jonathan Massaquoi and defensive end Cliff Matthews.

Checking injuries that matter most

October, 5, 2012
The Friday injury reports for Sunday’s games are out, so let’s take a look at the most significant injuries around the NFC South.

Atlanta is listing safety William Moore (hip), center Todd McClure (pectoral) and fullback Lousaka Polite (hamstring) as questionable. If Moore can’t go, veteran Chris Hope likely would get the start. If McClure is out, the Falcons could go with either Joe Hawley or Peter Konz. If Polite sits out, I’d expect to see some of Jason Snelling at fullback, but I’d also expect to see the Falcons do the same thing they did last week and use some reserve offensive linemen at fullback.

The Carolina Panthers could be without two key defensive players as they play Seattle. Middle linebacker Jon Beason (knee) and cornerback Chris Gamble (shoulder) did not practice Friday and are listed as doubtful. The Panthers could play it safe and start Jason Phillips in the middle. Or they could take a chance and move outside linebacker Luke Kuechly to the middle, where he played in college. Kuechly isn’t off to a great start and switching positions could make things more difficult for him. Second-year pro Josh Thomas is the likely alternative if Gamble can’t go.

Receiver Lance Moore and linebacker David Hawthorne have been ruled out for Sunday night’s game with San Diego. With Moore out, veteran Greg Camarillo, who was re-signed this week, should get some playing time. Hawthorne missed last week’s game and so did his backup, Jonathan Casillas. But Casillas is expected to play this week, so the Saints will have to choose between him and Will Herring.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have a bye, so there is no injury report for them.

Jon Beason to play against Falcons

September, 30, 2012
ATLANTA -- Carolina Panthers middle linebacker Jon Beason, who was listed as questionable with knee and shoulder injuries, will be active for Sunday’s game with the Atlanta Falcons.

The biggest item of note on Carolina’s list of inactives is that rookie receiver/return man Joe Adams will not play. Adams muffed a punt and fumbled on a kickoff return last week. Kealoha Pilares is expected to handle kickoff returns and Armanti Edwards is likely to handle punt returns.

Carolina’s other inactives are Jimmy Clausen, D.J. Campbell, Bruce Campbell, Mike Pollak, Antwan Applewhite and Frank Kearse.

As expected, Atlanta fullback Lousaka Polite, cornerback Chris Owens, tight end Michael Palmer and running back Antone Smith are inactive due to injuries. The other inactives for the Falcons are Dominique Davis, Lamar Holmes and Jonathan Massaquoi.

Checking the injuries that matter most

September, 28, 2012
The final injury reports are in for Sunday’s game, so let’s take a look at the most significant injuries around the division.

The news isn’t good for a New Orleans defense that already was struggling. Linebackers David Hawthorne and Jonathan Casillas and defensive end Turk McBride have been declared out for Sunday’s game at Green Bay. Casillas had been backing up Hawthorne. With both of them out, Will Herring appears likely to get the start.

Carolina middle linebacker Jon Beason (knee and shoulder) practiced Friday. Coach Ron Rivera said the team will see how sore Beason is Sunday before making a decision on his status. If Beason can’t play against Atlanta, Jason Phillips is expected to start in the middle. Running back Jonathan Stewart is listed as probable and expected to play for just the second time this season.

The Falcons have declared tight end Michael Palmer, cornerback Christopher Owens, running back Antone Smith and fullback Lousaka Polite out for Sunday. That means Dominique Franks likely will be used as the nickel back and running back Jason Snelling probably will get some time at fullback. Tommy Gallarda is expected to take Palmer’s place as the backup tight end.

The Buccaneers are relatively healthy compared to the other three teams. Reserve cornerback Anthony Gaitor is out for Sunday, but everyone else (including guard Carl Nicks and cornerback E.J. Biggers) is no worse than probable.

Around the NFC South

September, 27, 2012
Time for a team-by-team look at the Thursday morning headlines from around the division:


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.


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.


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.


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.
I just went through the playing time figures for all NFC South running backs through the first three games and spotted some very telling trends.

Let’s take a team-by-team look at how many snaps each running back has played.

Atlanta Falcons: Michael Turner remains the starter, but there’s no question the Falcons are following through on their promise to lighten his load. In fact, in the Week 3 victory against San Diego, Jacquizz Rodgers got slightly more playing time than Turner. Rodgers was on the field for 34 of Atlanta’s 72 plays, while Turner participated in 32. On the season, the Falcons have had 194 offensive plays. Turner has been on the field for 101 plays, while Rodgers has participated in 83 plays. Reserve running back Jason Snelling has been on the field for 36 plays. Fullback Lousaka Polite has participated in 46 plays.

Carolina Panthers: This one is a little out of sorts because Jonathan Stewart has played in only one game due to injuries. Stewart played in Week 2 against New Orleans and the split of playing time with DeAngelo Williams was pretty balanced. Stewart took part in 23 of 63 offensive plays, while Williams was on the field for 25 plays. Fullback/running back Mike Tolbert took part in 18 plays in the New Orleans game. On the season, Carolina has had 171 offensive plays and it turns out Tolbert has been the most-used back. He’s taken part in 85 plays, while Williams has participated in 76.

New Orleans Saints: Although he’s not getting a lot of carries, Darren Sproles has been on the field more than any New Orleans running back. Sproles, who sometimes lines up as a receiver has been on the field for 109 of the Saints’ 210 offensive plays. Pierre Thomas who has been the main ball carrier, has participated in 73 plays. Mark Ingram, a first-round draft pick, is clearly No. 3 on the depth chart. Ingram has been on the field for 42 plays. Fullback Jed Collins has participated in 63 plays.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Rookie Doug Martin clearly is getting the most playing time of Tampa Bay’s running backs. Martin has been in the game for 140 of Tampa Bay’s 177 offensive plays. D.J. Ware has participated in 28 plays and former starter LeGarrette Blount has only been on the field for 12 plays. Fullback Erik Lorig has participated in 77 plays.

Guess who isn't dropped-passes leader?

September, 12, 2012
Watching Roddy White rack up dropped passes last year was kind of like watching a guy chasing a home-run record.

It seemed White was putting one (sometimes more than one) on the ground every game and running away with the league lead in dropped passes. He finished with 14 and we pretty much kept weekly tabs on his count in this blog.

But I just got the list of drops from Week 1 from ESPN Stats & Information and White’s not in his usual spot at the top of the list. In fact, he’s not even on the list.

The top spot belongs to Victor Cruz of the Giants, who dropped three passes in his opening game. If Cruz continues on that pace, he’ll shatter White’s mark.

Two of White’s teammates -- receiver Julio Jones and fullback Lousaka Polite -- had drops in Week 1. But the only other NFC South receiver to drop a pass was New Orleans’ Marques Colston.

In his drop-free opener, White had six catches for 87 yards.

Around the NFC South

September, 4, 2012
Let's take a run through the Tuesday morning headlines from around the NFC South:


Although former Atlanta fullback Ovie Mughelli was released by the Rams, general manager Thomas Dimitroff made it sound like the Falcons will stick with Lousaka Polite as the only true fullback on their roster. Running back Jason Snelling also can play fullback.

Atlanta receivers coach Terry Robiskie, like many around the league, believes it takes a young wide receiver three years to fully develop. But there are strong signs that Julio Jones is ahead of the curve. He had a good rookie season, despite injuries and has been outstanding in the preseason. Of all the players I saw in my tour of NFC South training camps, none stood out more than Jones. Also, keep in mind, he had a full offseason program this year. That’s something he lacked as a rookie, due to the lockout.


The team will practice one more time at home before turning Bank of America Stadium over to the Democratic National Convention. The Panthers will leave for Florida on Tuesday afternoon and spend the rest of the week working out at IMG Academies in Bradenton before playing the Buccaneers in Tampa Bay on Sunday.

Rookie cornerback Josh Norman was honored by Coastal Carolina on Saturday. More importantly, Norman shed some light on what his role will be with the Panthers. Norman said he’s been told he’ll play outside on passing situations. That means the team will be able to move Captain Munnerlyn inside on passing situations, which is what the coaching staff has wanted to do all along.


Middle linebacker Curtis Lofton, who has been out with an injury, said he’ll be ready to play Sunday against Washington. Same for wide receiver Adrian Arrington. Linebacker David Hawthorne, who had surgery to fix a torn meniscus, wasn’t so sure. He said that decision will be up to the trainers. I’m thinking Hawthorne may have to sit an extra week or two. But if the Saints have Lofton on the field for opening day, their linebacker corps will be a lot better than it was in the final weeks of the preseason.

More good news for the Saints on the injury front. Cornerback Jabari Greer, who had surgery to fix a sports hernia in August, said he’ll be ready to go Sunday.

Rookie receiver Nick Toon, who already was placed on injured reserve, is expected to have surgery on his left foot. That’s the same foot Toon had surgery on before his final season at Wisconsin.


Defensive tackle Amobi Okoye who was released by the Bucs on Friday and signed by the Bears, said he left questioning the character of coach Greg Schiano. Okoye implied he was told his injured knee would be allowed to heal and, when it wasn’t coming along quickly enough, he was pushed to the door.

Newly-acquired running back D.J. Ware thinks Tampa Bay’s Mike Sullivan is ready to be a successful offensive coordinator. The two were together with the New York Giants and won two Super Bowls.

Atlanta Falcons cut-down analysis

August, 31, 2012
Click here for the complete list of Atlanta Falcons roster moves.

Most significant move: In yet the latest sign that they’re going to become more of a passing team, the Falcons are going with Lousaka Polite as the only true fullback on their roster. They released Mike Cox, who became the starter last season after Ovie Mughelli suffered a major injury. Throughout Mike Mularkey’s tenure as offensive coordinator, the Falcons used Mughelli extensively as a lead blocker for Michael Turner. Polite’s a solid veteran, but I think the fact the Falcons are going without a true backup fullback says a lot. Tailback Jason Snelling can play fullback if needed, but I think this is an indication that new coordinator Dirk Koetter doesn’t plan on using fullbacks as much as this team did in recent years.

Onward and upward: More than any other franchise in the NFC South, the Falcons pride themselves on keeping their team together. That’s why I’m fairly surprised that third-year cornerback Dominique Franks was waived. He seemed to be in the lead for the job as the punt returner and he also made several nice plays as a cornerback in the preseason. Take this as a sign that the Falcons think more highly of fourth-year corner Chris Owens, who they also drafted and have developed. Owens will be the fourth corner after Brent Grimes, Dunta Robinson and Asante Samuel. There is some mileage on the guys ahead of him, so Owens could end up in a bigger role as the season goes on. Also, this pretty much means the Falcons plan to use wide receiver Harry Douglas as their main punt returner. Franks shouldn’t have a problem landing on another roster.

What’s next: Quarterback Matt Ryan is “the franchise’’ in Atlanta. I know fans aren’t sold on left tackle Sam Baker. But I’m a little more concerned that all the Falcons have behind Baker, who has had injury problems in the past, is rookie Lamar Holmes, who missed a chunk of the preseason with an injury. I think the Falcons need to find a bit of insurance with a left tackle that’s had a little experience in the NFL. Until Holmes has a little more time to get coached up, this team is one Baker injury away from disaster.

Observation deck: Falcons-Bengals

August, 16, 2012
I saw some signs the Atlanta Falcons can be the team they want to be in Thursday night’s 24-19 preseason loss to Cincinnati.

There were some explosive plays on offense, a turnover created by the first-team defense, some steady pressure by defensive end Ray Edwards and even a few screen passes.

Quarterback Matt Ryan played until midway through the second quarter and the rest of the starters were done by halftime when the Falcons led 13-10. Not much mattered after that, but there were lots of encouraging signs from the starters. Let’s run through some observations:
  • Ryan’s numbers (18-of-21 for 174 yards and a touchdown) look spectacular and he completed his first 11 pass attempts. But that doesn’t tell the whole story. Ryan’s first eight passes were mostly short ones and he didn’t have a long completion until connecting with Roddy White for a 24-yard gain on his ninth pass. He followed that with a 21-yard pass to Tony Gonzalez and later had a downfield completion in traffic to Julio Jones. Ryan seemed under pressure early, but the offensive line seemed to settle down as time went on. Ryan also missed slightly on a deep throw for Jones. The ball was well thrown, but it went off Jones’ fingertips.
  • In his first two preseason games, Ryan has completed 27 of 34 passes for 329 yards and two touchdowns.
  • Speaking of the offensive line, Garrett Reynolds got another start at right guard and it looks like he could remain there. There had been thought that rookie Peter Konz would overtake him. But Konz went down with an apparent leg injury in the third quarter. Konz did return to the game, but it remains to be seen if he'll be healthy enough to play in the third preseason game. If Konz doesn't start in the third preseason game, then the starting job likely belongs to Reynolds.
  • Ewards, who played hurt and wasn’t productive last year, was a definite factor against the Bengals. I saw him get good pressure on Andy Dalton once and he also chased down a ball carrier in the backfield.
  • Speaking of maligned defensive linemen, former first-round pick Peria Jerry continues to play well. He’s starting in place of the injured Corey Peters. Jerry had a sack on Dalton, although he did get called for a late hit two plays earlier. Still, it was nice to see Jerry show some of the skills that made him a first-round pick. If he keeps playing the way he has been, he might have a chance to move ahead of Peters or at least get significant time in the rotation.
  • Jerry wasn’t the only interior lineman producing pressure. Jonathan Babineaux sacked Dalton, but the play was nullified when Babineaux was called for a face-mask penalty. I watched the replay several times and saw no indication that Babineaux’s hand ever got close to Dalton’s face mask. I think the replacement refs botched that call.
  • Thomas DeCoud and William Moore have made some noise that they believe they can be one of the best safety tandems in the league this year. That seems like a long shot, if you go simply by what they’ve done in the past. But there was a moment against the Bengals when it looked like that could become a reality. Moore stripped the ball from running back Brian Leonard and DeCoud quickly pounced on the fumble.
  • The Falcons appear to be very serious about throwing more to their running backs. Michael Turner, Jacquizz Rodgers and Lousaka Polite each caught passes. Polite, who recently was signed to provide depth at fullback, caught a short touchdown pass. I’m not sure I want to see too many passes to Turner and Polite in the regular season because I don’t see either of the making big plays after the catch. But I think Rodgers has the skill to do that and he should be targeted often. Also, Rodgers had a very nice run between the tackles in the second quarter. A lot of people think Rodgers can’t run between the tackles because he’s short. But the Falcons believe Rodgers is thick enough to run up the middle and I think you’ll see a fair amount of that this year.
  • Speaking of Rodgers, he also got a long look at punt returner and kickoff returner. The highlight was a 29-yard punt returner, before giving way to Dominique Franks, who is competing for the job as the punt returner. Rodgers is competing for the kickoff return job with his brother, James.
  • I saw some good and bad things out of cornerback Asante Samuel. He did a nice job going up with A.J. Green for a pass and breaking it up. But Samuel also got beat badly by Green on a 55-yard touchdown pass. Samuel sat on a short route, looking like he thought he could jump in and intercept. But Green took off downfield and left Samuels to chase him.
  • I keep liking what I see out of undrafted rookie quarterback Dominique Davis. He throws well and is athletic. He might be raw, but I think the Falcons could develop him into something if they keep him around. I think Davis could be an upgrade over No. 3 quarterback John Parker Wilson. Davis looked great with the fourth team. The Falcons might be wise to give him a look with the second or third team in the final two preseason games.

NFC South evening update

August, 11, 2012
I’m getting ready to watch the preseason game between the Carolina Panthers and Houston Texans. I’ll be back with observations on the Panthers soon after the game ends.

If you want to discuss the Panthers as the game is going on, hit the comments section below.

Meantime, here are a few headlines to bring you up to speed on what’s happening around the NFC South:
  • Coach Mike Smith said the Falcons are following NFL protocol with middle linebacker Akeem Dent, who suffered a concussion Thursday night. Smith said it's unclear if Dent will be able to play in the next preseason game.
  • With rookie Bradie Ewing out for the season, it doesn’t look as though the Atlanta Falcons simply are going to hand the starting fullback job to Mike Cox. They went out and got someone with extensive experience Saturday afternoon, signing Lousaka Polite as they placed Ewing on injured reserve. In a career that began in 2004, Polite has spent time with the Cowboys, Bears, Dolphins and Patriots. The Falcons also signed tight end Chase Coffman, who recently was released by Tampa Bay. The Falcons have also waived tight end Adam Nissley and punter Dawson Zimmerman.
  • The Bucs got a healthy dose of Miami’s no-huddle offense on Friday night. They handled it pretty well. Chalk it up as good experience because the Bucs are likely to see more of it in the regular season, particularly from the Falcons.
  • Guard Travelle Wharton, who was released by the Panthers after last season and quickly signed by the Bengals, suffered a season-ending knee injury, John Clayton reports. Carolina was ahead of the curve on this one. The Panthers let Wharton go for salary-cap reasons and because they felt age was catching up to him.