NFC South: Shawne Merriman

NFC South afternoon update

July, 29, 2013
SPARTANBURG, S.C. – I’m wrapping up my time at Carolina’s training camp. But I still have plenty of stuff for the coming days on the Panthers. Their Camp Confidential profile is scheduled to run Wednesday.

I have to make my way up to Charlotte to catch a flight home to NFC South Blog headquarters tonight. I’ll get out to see the Tampa Bay Buccaneers later this week and I’ll head to New Orleans to see the Saints next week.

Before I travel, I’ll leave you with some quick news and notes from around the division:


Although pass-rusher Shawne Merriman took to Twitter to lobby the Falcons to sign him, D. Orlando Ledbetter writes that it’s unlikely Merriman will end up with Atlanta. I know fans get worked up about Merriman and other veterans. But the fact is the Falcons have high hopes for a lot of their young players. Their plan is to go with what they already have on their roster. The only way I see the Falcons adding any veterans is if they have some injuries.


Jonathan Jones writes that free-agent pickup Mike Mitchell has been making some noise at strong safety so far in camp. I saw Mitchell make several nice plays Monday morning. Mitchell’s main competitor appears to be D.J. Campbell.


Outside linebacker Martez Wilson had to leave practice with an elbow injury. Coach Sean Payton said the injury didn’t appear to be serious. But the Saints are a little thin at outside linebacker if Wilson has to miss any practice time. They already have lost Victor Butler to a season-ending injury. If Wilson is out for any extended period, rookie Rufus Johnson could get more work behind Will Smith and Junior Galette.


Cornerback Darrelle Revis got a planned day off as he continues his comeback from knee surgery. Receiver Mike Williams limped off the field with an apparent leg injury, but coach Greg Schiano indicated it was nothing serious.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers mailbag

November, 4, 2010
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are up to bat in today’s series of team-by-team mailbags.

Tyler in Lewiston, Pa., writes: Saw that Tampa Bay put in a waiver claim for Shawne Merriman...what's that all about? Isn't he a 3-4 OLB? Would he even be of any use to Tampa in a 4-3?

Pat Yasinskas: Well, it’s kind of a moot point since he ended up with Buffalo. But it was interesting that the Bucs put in a claim. Yeah, Merriman is a 3-4 linebacker and really wouldn’t fit in the system the Bucs use. But their pass rush has been so non-existent that I think they were willing to take a shot to improve it any way possible. They probably would have used Merriman as a situational pass rusher. It didn’t happen and I don’t think the Bucs are going to find a complete answer for their pass rush until they get to the next college draft and free agency in the spring.

Dylan in Las Vegas writes: I know people don't respect the wins the Bucs have to date because of who they were against. But that being said, why is it that Josh Freeman isn't even mentioned as someone to consider in MVP voting? The Bucs’ record is as good or better than those of the players Mike Sando is pushing in his latest column, and correct me if I am wrong, but it doesn't seem like many of these "candidates" have been more clutch for their teams than Freeman. There is no doubt that the other guys have great individual numbers, but isn't MVP supposed to be about value to the "team"? Help me understand.

Pat Yasinskas: All valid points and I might have to put a “bug’’ in Sando’s ear. Not saying this is my point of view, but just pointing out reality. Freeman and the Bucs are still viewed as the new kids on the block, and a lot of people aren’t sure what to make of them. If they keep winning and Freeman keeps doing his thing, then, the accolades will start to flow.

Robert in Dallas, Texas writes: Keep up the great work! Do you think Mike Williams could be Offensive Rookie of the Year if he keeps playing the way he has all year?

Pat Yasinskas: I’d say it’s a real possibility. Williams has been good from the start, and he’s coming off his first 100-yard receiving game. I think he only will continue to get better. Again, if the Bucs keep winning, the honors and the attention will follow.

Jim in Orlando writes: Was looking for some info on this Al Woods guy. Since he was drafted by the Saints, did you write anything on him? It seems like this was a good grab.

Pat Yasinskas: I wouldn’t get too excited about Woods or expect him to come right in and dominate. But I think he was worth a shot after the Bucs had to put rookie Brian Price on injured reserve. Woods was a fourth-round pick out of LSU and didn’t get a lot of playing time until his final college season. He didn’t have big production, but the Saints took a shot because they saw potential. Woods dropped some weight to try to add quickness, and that ended up working against him. He got pushed around too easily in training camp and the preseason, and that’s why the Saints cut him. But there still is potential there and Tampa Bay’s defensive line remains a work in progress. Woods might be able to carve out a niche with the Bucs.

Ricky in Los Angeles writes: Hey Pat, I was curious about your thoughts on Gerald McCoy and how he has been doing thus far?

Pat Yasinskas: Glad you asked that question, because I think McCoy has been too critical of himself and some Tampa Bay fans are suggesting he’s a bust because he has not put up big numbers. I talked to someone close to this situation very recently and the word is McCoy has been grading out well each game and the coaching staff is pleased with his play. Sure, there’s room for improvement, but this guy is only seven games into his career. Too many people expected McCoy to come in and instantly be the second coming of Warren Sapp in his prime. Those people forget that Sapp was barely even a factor his rookie year. McCoy’s progressing, and that will continue. Everybody wants to see some sacks from McCoy, and he wants that, too. It hasn’t happened yet, but I think it will come at some point.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers mailbag

October, 14, 2010
It’s time to turn to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in today’s series of team-by-team mailbags.

William in Newport Beach, Calif., writes: Do you think the Buccaneers will take a flyer on pass-rush OLB Shawne Merriman? I personally think if the Bucs put him at DE he would be killer in their 4-3 scheme. What are your thoughts?

Pat Yasinskas: Absolutely not. There was a time when the Bucs might have been all over a player like Merriman. But those days are over. It’s pretty obvious the Bucs are committed to building with youth. That’s starting to show some signs of being a wise idea. Yes, the Bucs definitely could use help in the pass rush, but they aren’t in a mode where they’re looking for short-term fixes these days.

Josh in Toronto writes: Hey Pat, great job on the blog. I love reading about how the Bucs are growing up quickly and the potential Josh Freeman and the team has, having built a solid foundation. Can you see the Bucs being a perennial playoff team in the near future and possibly winning a Super Bowl in the next five years?

Pat Yasinskas: I don’t want to get too far ahead of the game. But what we’ve seen out of the Bucs this year has been very encouraging. It’s becoming obvious Freeman has the potential to be a top-notch quarterback, and that’s a great start. There are some other young guys who are looking like they can be core players. If the Bucs can continue to add to that core, anything is possible. Like I said, with Freeman on board, they already have the most important piece.

Grant in Palm Harbor, Fla., writes: What do you think is the Buc's greatest weakness right now? And do you think the Bucs will do anything about the weakness this season (sign a free agent, trade, etc.), or do you think they'll wait until this years' draft to find a solution?

Pat Yasinskas: We touched on the pass rush above and that is a weakness. But for the sake of variety, I’ll say the running game. Freeman is having a lot of success and he’s doing it without a consistent running game. I’m not ready to write off Cadillac Williams, and I don’t think his light production this season is totally his fault. I think the Bucs need to improve their run blocking. Again, I don’t see any short-term fixes coming this season. You might see a bit more of Kareem Huggins and LeGarrette Blount going forward. Maybe they’ll ignite the running game or maybe Williams will bounce back. If not, then I think you can expect the Bucs to draft a running back pretty early next year.

Matt in Streator, Ill., writes: Why is it that no one else will give the Bucs credit for the comeback win over the Bengals? All I've heard is the Bengals collapsed and lost the game. The Bucs came back and took that game with timely defensive plays, a rookie WR making highlight catches, and a 2nd year QB playing like a 10-year vet in a high-pressure situation. In the past they have never had enough talent on offense to make that kind of comeback even with great defensive play. It's time to give credit where credit is due.

Pat Yasinskas: Not sure who it is that you think is selling the Bucs short. But I salute Tampa Bay for winning against Cincinnati. Yeah, the Bengals aren’t the greatest team in the world. But this is the NFL. When you go on the road, fall behind and come back and win, that’s a major accomplishment. And I agree with what you’re saying about how the Bucs won that game. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, it’s looking like Freeman gives the Bucs the first quarterback in franchise history who truly can go out and win a game.

Carolina Panthers mailbag

October, 14, 2010
The Carolina Panthers are next in our tour of team-by-team mailbags.

Rob in Houston writes: Do you think the Panthers can actually win a game coming off of the bye week? I'm worried we may not actually win a game all season. On the plus side, if there is actually a draft next year, we may get the #1 pick.

Pat Yasinskas: Coming off the bye, the Panthers have the 49ers on the horizon. Nothing’s a given for Carolina this year, but San Francisco also has lots of problems. That’s a game the Panthers could win. On the bright side, there definitely will be a draft in 2011. We don’t know if there will be a season, but the draft will take place and the Panthers certainly have a shot at No. 1.

Grant in Washington, D.C., writes: The Panthers pick up a wide receiver off the waiver wire and there's no news about it in the blog? What gives? I know the Cats are terrible this year (I get terribly depressed every time I read what you write about them, yet a keep coming back for more) and they're headed into a bye week, but isn't Devin Thomas coming into the division worth noting?

Pat Yasinskas: We don’t do individual items on every transaction here. We have certain guidelines from above and one of them is to limit posts to guys with reasonable significance. A wide receiver claimed off waivers doesn’t quite meet that criteria. I’ve been waiting to address the Thomas move in a round-up post or somewhere where I can briefly make a quick reference to him. So, here’s that opportunity. Devin Thomas is a guy who busted out in Washington, kind of the same way Dwayne Jarrett did in Carolina. He’s been added to a very weak wide receiver corps. He may or may not take advantage of the situation. We’ll see if he’s any factor at all. If he is, then, we'll do something more extensive on Thomas.

Will in Gastonia, N.C., writes: I just saw where Shawne Merriman will be released soon by the Chargers. Do you think there's any chance the Panthers will pick him up to bolster the linebacker corps a bit?

Pat Yasinskas: Not a chance. Seriously, if you’ve seen one pattern from the Panthers over the past year or so, it’s that they aren’t looking to bring in older players. Besides, their linebackers have been one of their few bright spots.

JM in Charlotte writes: Feels like history is repeating itself. Last season, Carolina saw that it was hurting on the D line and scrambled to find an answer all year long. This year, it seems like they're doing the same thing for WR. Am I wrong in thinking that these are moves that should have been made during the preseason when all of the red flags starting appearing on offense?

Pat Yasinskas: You make a good comparison by pointing back to the defensive tackle situation last year. Yes, the receiver position is somewhat similar this year. But the Panthers did at least use three draft picks on receivers -- Brandon LaFell, Armanti Edwards and David Gettis. Still, they had to know there was a pretty good chance Jarrett wasn’t going to pan out. I would have liked to have seen them add a legitimate No. 2 receiver as a free agent. But, for whatever reason, the Panthers weren’t playing the free-agent game this year.