NFC South: Sean Mahan

When choosing the best draft class in the history of the NFC South (history starts in 2002, when the NFC South started), it was easy to pick the 2006 group brought in by the New Orleans Saints. Guys like Reggie Bush, Jahri Evans, Marques Colston and Roman Harper were big reasons why the Saints won the Super Bowl last season.

But 2007 also was a memorable draft for the Buccaneers and Falcons -- for all the wrong reasons. In fact, I had to have a lengthy debate with myself on if Atlanta or Tampa Bay had the worst class in division history that year.

1. 2007 by Tampa Bay. As I debated the demerits of what Atlanta and Tampa Bay did in this draft, it really came down to the fact that the Bucs hit the trifecta with their first three picks. They took Gaines Adams, Arron Sears and Sabby Piscitelli. You can’t really argue with that. Adams was a non-factor before the Bucs traded him to Chicago, Sears couldn’t play last year because of personal issues and Piscitelli showed last year that he can’t play. Safety Tanard Jackson, a fourth-round pick, has been a bright spot, but not enough to pull the Bucs out of the top spot.

2. 2007 by Atlanta. When the Bucs took Adams, they passed over Jamaal Anderson and the Falcons pounced on him with the No. 8 overall pick. If you don’t hit on a top-10 pick, you’ve got a problem. The Falcons have gotten nothing out of Anderson. They did get a solid starter in guard Justin Blalock in the second round and fourth-round pick Stephen Nicholas became a starter at linebacker last year. But Bobby Petrino and Rich McKay also gave the Falcons cornerback Chris Houston in the second round and receiver Laurent Robinson in the third. Houston started a lot of games for the Falcons, but the current Atlanta regime was thrilled to trade him to Detroit this year. Robinson never came close to being a factor.

3. 2003 by Tampa Bay. Speaking of Petrino, he played a major role in building what almost was the third-worst draft class in NFC South history. I gave very strong consideration to Carolina’s class of 2005. Louisville products Eric Shelton and Stefan LeFors were tremendous busts. Atiyyah Ellison and Jovan Haye showed they can play in the league, but only after they left the Panthers. But I couldn’t quite put Carolina in this slot because first-round pick Thomas Davis has worked out. If you want to see a class that truly flopped from top to bottom look back at the 2003 Bucs. They were without a first-round pick because it was used to help get coach Jon Gruden out of Oakland. But the Bucs jumped in after that and gave you this collection of draft picks -- Dewayne White, Chris Simms, Lance Nimmo, Austin King, Sean Mahan and Torrie Cox. Sad part is Cox, the last pick of the bunch, probably did the most of this group.

Bucs make more roster moves

October, 27, 2009
10/27/09
3:04
PM ET
Posted by ESPN.com’s Pat Yasinskas

The Buccaneers continue to be the most active team in the NFC South when it comes to roster moves. They made several more Tuesday.

They promoted offensive tackle James Lee from the practice squad, while releasing guard Marcus Johnson and center Sean Mahan. Those moves came only hours after Johnson was charged with driving under the influence.

The Bucs also signed linebacker Lee Robinson to the practice squad and released linebacker Eric Bakhtiari from the practice squad.

Bucs add guard Murphy off waivers

October, 21, 2009
10/21/09
5:23
PM ET
Posted by ESPN.com’s Pat Yasinskas

The Bucs just announced they have claimed guard Shawn Murphy off waivers from the Miami Dolphins.

Not much to read into here. The Bucs simply are taking a shot on a guy who was a fourth-round draft pick by Miami last year. They’re sticking with Davin Joseph and Jeremy Zuttah as their starters and they’ve got an experienced interior lineman backing them up in Sean Mahan.

Basically, this means two things: The Bucs aren’t counting on Arron Sears, who’s been away from the team for months while dealing with a private matter, returning. It also means Murphy gets a free trip to London this weekend.

Posted by ESPN.com’s Pat Yasinskas


A bit of good news for the Buccaneers on the injury front. Center Jeff Faine expects to play this week.

Faine has missed four games due to a triceps injury, and Sean Mahan has filled in. There’s a big drop-off from Faine to Mahan, and that could be part of the reason Tampa Bay’s running game hasn’t produced a great deal.

Posted by ESPN.com’s Pat Yasinskas


We’ll take a quick trip through the injuries that matter most in the NFC South.

Saints. Tackle Jermon Bushrod (knee/ankle) and cornerback Malcolm Jenkins (ankle) did not practice Wednesday. Bushrod had to leave Sunday’s game against Buffalo and that gave Zach Strief some work at left tackle. Indications are Bushrod’s injury could keep him out against the Jets and the team will prepare Strief to start. Jenkins, the first-round pick, also was injured against Buffalo. The Saints have good depth at cornerback, but are hoping Jenkins can go against the Jets because he’s become a mainstay on special teams.

Buccaneers. Center Jeff Faine (triceps) looks like he’ll miss another game as he sat out practice. Sean Mahan continues to work in his spot. Defensive end Gaines Adams (groin) sat out practice. Adams’ health, combined with a lack of production, could push Stylez G. White into the starting lineup. Running back Derrick Ward (knee) sat out practice and that could put Cadillac Williams back into a starting role.

Falcons. Atlanta isn’t required to provide an injury report because of this week’s bye, but D. Orlando Ledbetter reports running back Jerious Norwood returned to practice after suffering a concussion in the Sept. 20 game against Carolina.

Panthers. Like the Falcons, the Panthers aren’t required to provide an injury report in their bye week and you can be darn sure John Fox isn’t going to reveal something he doesn’t have to.

Mailbag: Tampa Bay Buccaneers edition

September, 26, 2009
9/26/09
2:15
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com’s Pat Yasinskas


Time for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in our continuing series of team-by-team mailbags:

Tony in Spring Hill, Fla., writes: I'm actually one of a few Bucs fans who was happy with the Glazers firing Gruden and hiring Morris, who seems like he has got something planned beyond the next 14 games. My question is, beyond some sort of miracle this season, what do Bucs fans look forward to in order to get more people in the seats? Do you see Freeman coming in before the bye week if Leftwich becomes interception prone?

Pat Yasinskas: Tony, I’m glad you can see the bigger picture. A lot of my neighbors and friends here in Tampa are freaking out about the Bucs starting 0-2. Did you really expect anything different? I mean, it’s been pretty clear since Raheem Morris was hired and started making moves that this was going to be a rebuilding season. It’s a lot like when Tony Dungy came here in 1996. Dungy, very slowly, changed things around and got his system to work. Morris may or may not have the same success, but you need to look beyond the short term at this situation. This season will be a success if the Bucs show progress later in the year, especially if Josh Freeman gets on the field and plays well. That will generate plenty of excitement. My guess is you’ll see Freeman starting after the Bucs return from their trip to London.


Carlos in Panama City writes: Pat, any news on the Arron Sears front, or do you still have to keep quiet on that one? Simply asking because Sears would allow Zuttah to move to center; Both would be a much better upgrade of the other (Sears is better than Zuttah and Zuttah is better than Mahan).

Pat Yasinskas: All I can say on that one is that Sears is dealing with a personal issue and we won’t say anything more about it unless Sears or the team wants to go into more detail. It’s a sensitive situation and I wish Sears all the best. But I don’t think you’ll see him returning to the Bucs anytime soon and they’re not counting on it. They’re going to stick with Sean Mahan as their starting center until Jeff Faine gets back.


Nelson in Tampa writes: I'm not hitting the panic button on my Bucs just yet, I'll give Raheem some time. But I'm looking to next year if we do have an awful season. What do you think are chances are at Tebow if that happens?

Pat Yasinskas: Ah, the Tim Tebow question. Knew that one would be coming before long. My short answer is he won’t land in Tampa Bay because the Bucs just invested a first-round draft pick in a quarterback with Freeman and they’ve made it very clear he’s the future of the franchise. If the Bucs have an early pick in the draft, I’d be stunned if they used it on Tebow, even if every Gators fan from Brooksville to Apopka was waving orange and blue flags on Dale Mabry Highway. That would be steering away from whatever plan Morris and general manager Mark Dominik have. That said, I know the talk last year was that Tebow couldn’t play quarterback in the NFL and would have to move to tight end. I disagree with that. The more I see of Tebow, the more I believe he’ll be able to do whatever it takes to be an NFL quarterback. But it won’t be in Tampa.


JR in Tampa writes: I was surprised to see that on your piece about Rising and Falling stars in the south, you only pointed out bad in Tampa. I mean, yes, they are looking very bad and as predicted. But on the Rising section, I can't believe you wouldn't give any praise to the bright spots here. I mean Cadillac has done this miracle from having rubber band ligaments and the overall offense being ranked in the top five in the NFL.

Pat Yasinskas: Your point is taken. But our weekly Stock Watch is limited to three players in each category and I’m usually going to put players from winning teams into the rising category. I think I might have put Cadillac Williams in the rising category in Week 1. Either way, let’s again give Cadillac his props for coming back from a second major knee injury. Also, I do recognize Tampa Bay’s offense is playing very well. That’s rare for this territory. But the Bucs have to do something about that defense before we can really raise their stock.

Posted by ESPN.com’s Pat Yasinskas


As we do each Wednesday, let’s look at the key injuries around the NFC South.

We’ll check in on New Orleans, Tampa Bay and Atlanta, but we’ll wait a day on Carolina. That’s because the Panthers aren’t playing until Monday night, so they’re a day behind everyone else and won’t issue an injury report until Thursday.

Saints. Coach Sean Payton already ruled offensive tackle Jammal Brown out and that’s no surprise. He’s missed the first two games and probably will miss some time beyond Sunday’s game. The more pertinent injury situations are running back Mike Bell, receiver Lance Moore and a trio of defensive linemen – Kendrick Clancy, Bobby McCray and Charles Grant. Bell has a sprained knee and didn’t practice. That probably means a healthy dose of Pierre Thomas against Buffalo. Moore has a hamstring injury and there still is optimism he might be ready, but receiver is New Orleans’ deepest position. Clancy and McCray didn’t practice and Grant was limited. We’ll see how those three injuries play out as the week goes on, but this situation has the potential to cut into the depth on the defensive line. Tackle Anthony Hargrove could get more time in the middle and the Saints will have Jeff Charleston ready if McCray and/or Grant can’t go.

Buccaneers. Center Jeff Faine isn’t going to play for a few more weeks and Sean Mahan will continue to start in his place. There are a couple of others to keep an eye on. Rookie defensive tackle Roy Miller sat out practice with an ankle injury and that’s a potential problem. Miller has been working in a rotation with starters Chris Hovan and Ryan Sims. Miller’s been one of the few defensive bright spots. If he can’t play Sunday, there’s not much depth behind him and Hovan and Sims need to stay fresh to be effective. Receiver Antonio Bryant (knee) returned to practice on a limited basis and coach Raheem Morris said he’s hopeful Bryant can play Sunday. That would be nice because Maurice Stovall, who started in Bryant’s place last week, did not practice because of a knee injury.

Falcons. Running back/return man Jerious Norwood was held out of practice after suffering a head injury Sunday. Nobody’s termed this a concussion, but nobody has said that’s not the case. Norwood took a pretty good shot against Carolina and I think there’s a decent chance he could miss some time. Jason Snelling looked good as a backup running back against the Panthers and Eric Weems picked up Norwood’s return duties. I’m thinking we could see more of the same against the Patriots.

Stovall, Mahan to start for Bucs

September, 20, 2009
9/20/09
2:56
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Pat Yasinskas


The Bucs will have two new starters on offense at Buffalo today. They just announced that Sean Mahan will start at center and Maurice Stovall at wide receiver.

Mahan, who was re-signed Monday, will start in place of the injured Jeff Faine. Stovall gets the nod in place of the injured Antonio Bryant. I'm a bit surprised by that one. I thought rookie Sammie Stroughter would draw the start, but I think we still will see a lot of Stroughter.

Bucs re-shuffle roster

September, 14, 2009
9/14/09
6:24
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com’s Pat Yasinskas


The Bucs just announced a few minor roster adjustments.

As expected, they’ve signed offensive lineman Sean Mahan. They also signed defensive end Tim Crowder while releasing cornerback Kyle Arrington and defensive end Maurice Evans. They also released punter A.J. Trapasso from the practice squad.

The Mahan signing is the most significant. He had been with the team in the preseason, but was released, partly because he was a backup with a relatively high salary. But the triceps injury that will sideline center Jeff Faine for several weeks left the Bucs very short on depth on the offensive line.

Mahan possibly could step straight into the starting lineup at center or guard. Left guard Jeremy Zuttah also can play center and could switch over to that spot.

Tampa Bay's Faine out for several weeks

September, 14, 2009
9/14/09
12:54
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com’s Pat Yasinskas


Reports from the four Monday press conferences by NFC South coaches are starting to come in and the early news out of Tampa isn’t good.

Center Jeff Faine has a triceps injury and will miss several weeks, Raheem Morris said. The Bucs could just insert backup center Jonathan Compass into the starting lineup, but that might not be their best option. Guard Jeremy Zuttah also can play center. The Bucs also could consider bringing back Sean Mahan, who they cut in the preseason.

On a positive note, receiver Antonio Bryant’s knee injury doesn’t appear to be serious and he should be able to play Sunday at Buffalo.

Posted by ESPN.com's Pat Yasinskas

We'll really get into breaking down the crucial Monday night game between Tampa Bay and Carolina on Thursday when both teams return to practice. But it's not too early to start talking about the biggest game of the year (so far) in the NFC South.

There's been bickering all season between Tampa Bay and Carolina fans about who has the better offensive line. That's always a tough call to make and there aren't a lot of stats for offensive linemen to go by.

But, with a little help from STATS, we're going to compare the two lines by looking at penalties and sacks allowed. I'm going to use the top seven offensive linemen for each team because both have had to play backups because of injuries.

Carolina Panthers
Pos.PlayerPenaltiesPenalty yardsSacks allowedYards
LT Jordan Gross 6 40 3 22
LG Travelle Wharton 1 5 2.5 17
C Ryan Kalil 2 10 0 0
RG Keydrick Vincent 3 15 2 16
RT Jeff Otah 5 29 4 20
C/G Geoff Hangartner 0 0 2 10.5
T Jeremy Bridges 1 5 0 0
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Pos.PlayerPenaltiesPenalty yardsSacks allowedYards
LT Donald Penn 3 21 5 32
LG Davin Joseph 3 35 1 2
C Jeff Faine 2 20 1 5
RG Arron Sears 4 30 1 8
RT Jeremy Trueblood 8 75 3 15
G Jeremy Zuttah 3 20 0 0
G Sean Mahan 0 0 0 0

Posted by ESPN.com's Pat Yasinskas

BuenningMahan

Busy afternoon for the Bucs. In essence, they just traded offensive lineman Dan Buenning for offensive lineman Sean Mahan. But, in reality, it was more complicated than that.

First, the Bucs traded a seventh-round pick in 2009 to the Steelers for Mahan. Then, they turned around and traded Buenning to Chicago for a 2009 seventh-round pick. (Officially, the Bucs are saying both trades involve an undisclosed draft pick. But league sources said each trade involves a 2009 seventh-round pick.)

Mahan, who previously played for Tampa Bay, was expendable after losing his starting center job to Justin Hartwig. Mahan can play guard or center and the Bucs were thin on interior depth with starting guard Davin Joseph likely out for at least a month with a broken foot.

Rookie Jeremy Zuttah is expected to start in Joseph's place, but Mahan will give the Bucs a solid backup and flexibility on the interior.

SPONSORED HEADLINES