NFC South: Mitch King
But I think it’s fair to say Atlanta’s Corey Peters and Jonathan Babineaux, New Orleans’ Sedrick Ellis and Tampa Bay’s Brian Price were the best the NFC South had to offer in 2011. Apparently, their coaches agreed.
According to playing-time numbers obtained by ESPN.com, Ellis led all NFC South tackles by taking part in 66.3 percent of New Orleans’ 1,061 defensive plays. That percentage ranked Ellis No. 16 in the NFL and he was the only NFC South player in the top 20.
Peters was next at 60.4 percent, which ranked No. 23 in the league. Babineaux was No. 30 at 54.1 percent. Price, who was somewhat limited by injuries and was sent home early from one game by former coach Raheem Morris, took part in 47.1 percent of Tampa Bay’s defensive plays. That tied him at No. 37 in the league with teammate Roy Miller.
Carolina rookie Terrell McClain was one spot behind them, taking part in 46 percent of his team’s defensive plays. After that, there was a big drop off among the rest of the division’s tackles and we should note that Tampa Bay’s Gerald McCoy probably would have finished in the top four or five in the NFC South if he hadn’t suffered a season-ending injury.
Let’s take a look at the percentage of playing time for the rest of the NFC South defensive tackles:
- Sione Fua, Panthers, 39.7
- Vance Walker, Falcons, 36.85
- Andre Neblett, Panthers, 36.2
- Albert Haynesworth, Buccaneers, 35.8 (included time with Patriots)
- Peria Jerry, Falcons, 35.6
- Tom Johnson, Saints, 30.1
- Shaun Rogers, Saints, 29.7
- Frank Okam, Buccaneers, 28.2
- Aubrayo Franklin, Saints, 27.3
- Gerald McCoy, Buccaneers, 20.8
- Frank Kearse, Panthers, 16.5
- Ogemdi Nwagbuo, Panthers, 15.6
- Ronald Fields, Panthers, 13.9
- Mitch King, Saints, 4.8
- Carlton Powell, Falcons, 3.8
- DeMario Pressley, Panthers, 3.8
- Jovan Haye, Buccaneers, 2.8
They have signed defensive tackle Mitch King, cornerback Kmaal McIlwain, receiver Andy Tanner, running back Chris Taylor, offensive tackle Phil Trautwein and offensive tackle Fenuki Tupou.
All of them spent at least a part of 2011 on the Saints’ practice squad. King was on the active roster for the first three games and spent the remainder of the year on the team’s practice squad.
Carolina rookie quarterback Cam Newton understands that Sunday’s game with Chicago has special meaning for coach Ron Rivera who previously played and coached for the Bears.
Chicago coach Lovie Smith said his decision not to renew Rivera’s contract was nothing personal. He said the Bears just wanted to move in a different direction.
The Saints shook up their practice squad a bit, bringing back defensive lineman Mitch King, who was on the regular roster for the first three games.
Former New Orleans offensive tackle Willie Roaf and former Carolina and New Orleans linebacker Sam Mills are once again on the ballot for the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Atlanta safety William Moore was fined $7,500 for his hit on Tampa Bay quarterback Josh Freeman in Sunday’s game.
Posted by ESPN.com's Pat Yasinskas
Let's preface this by saying we don't usually speculate about guys already on a roster landing with another team. But the case of the Carolina Panthers and their defensive tackle situation is of such intrigue that we're going to look at all scenarios.
That's because the Panthers are probably doing the very same thing. As we pointed out earlier, Shaun Smith, who was cut by Cleveland, could be a possibility after the season-ending loss of Maake Kemoeatu. Then again, the Smith thing might not happen and that would mean the Panthers would have to keep exploring.
It's a pretty safe bet the Tennessee Titans, who have an abundance of defensive tackles, are going to have to cut a player they like. If -- and I emphasize the word "if'' -- the Titans cut Kevin Vickerson, be ready for the Panthers to pounce on him. He's got good size, a little bit of experience and still has plenty of upside. One other Tennessee defensive tackle to keep an eye on is undrafted rookie Mitch King. He's having a nice camp, but could be a victim of numbers.