NFC South: Tramain Thomas

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are hoping they can get at least half a season out of defensive end Da’Quan Bowers.

The Bucs just announced they’ve placed Bowers on the physically unable to perform list, which means he can begin practicing any time after the season’s sixth week and the team then has three weeks to decide whether to activate him or put him on injured reserve for the entire season.

The fact the Bucs aren’t writing off Bowers for the entire season now is another sign they believe he might be able to return and help them this season. Bowers suffered a torn Achilles tendon in May and the instant assumption was that he would miss the entire season. But Bowers has said he believes he can return around mid-season and team officials have said in recent weeks that might be a realistic goal.

A second-round draft pick last year, Bowers seemed to be a strong candidate for a starting job before his injury. With Bowers out, Michael Bennett is expected to start at defensive end opposite Adrian Clayborn, but there’s not a lot of depth beyond that.

As expected, the Bucs also placed Pro Bowl guard Davin Joseph on injured reserve. Joseph suffered a torn patellar tendon in Friday night’s preseason game against New England.

The Bucs also made a bunch of other moves to get down to the league-mandated 75-player roster Monday afternoon, but there were no surprises. The Bucs waived running back De’Anthony Curtis, long-snapper Andrew DePaola, receiver Greg Ellingson, tight end Collin Franklin, receiver Ed Gant, punter Eric Guthrie, offensive tackle Mike Ingersoll, linebacker Brian Smith, safety Tramain Thomas and cornerback Marquese Wheaton.

Around the NFC South

August, 21, 2012
8/21/12
9:45
AM ET
A look at the Tuesday morning headlines from around the division:

ATLANTA FALCONS

At first, there were signs that undrafted rookie Dominique Davis could push John Parker Wilson for the third quarterback job. Now, there’s speculation he could move ahead of Chris Redman as the backup. I think that’s a little premature. Davis has a lot of upside and could end up as the backup down the road. But, if something happens to Matt Ryan, I think the Falcons would feel much safer leaving the team in the hands of Redman for the short term.

Jacquizz Rodgers never returned a kickoff in college. But it looks as if he’ll fill that role for the Falcons this season. Makes sense, because Rodgers is one of the team’s fastest players and has the potential to deliver long returns.

The Falcons, who had only one fight throughout training camp, had two scuffles break out Monday.

CAROLINA PANTHERS

After spending the entire offseason working to improve the defense, Carolina coach Ron Rivera said he still is concerned about an inability to get offenses off the field on third downs. He’s got two preseason games left to fix that.

It might not be the flashiest of positions, but the battle for the punting job might be the most intense competition in Carolina’s preseason. Veteran Nick Harris and rookie Brad Nortman are the candidates, and they’ve been even so far. Punting was a problem last season, and the Panthers want to upgrade over Jason Baker, who was let go after last season.

NEW ORLEANS SAINTS

Bradley Handwerger writes that having to make a trade for veteran linebacker Barrett Ruud so late in the preseason was less than ideal, but it was the best move the Saints could make after suffering three significant injuries at linebacker. Ruud is a long way removed from the days when he was a top middle linebacker in Tampa Bay, but he’s smart enough to come in and run the defense in the absence of Curtis Lofton. With Ruud in the middle, the Saints will look to start him along with Scott Shanle and Jonathan Casillas until Lofton and David Hawthorne are healthy enough to return.

Former New Orleans special-teams star Steve Gleason said comments he made to HBO’s “Real Sports’’ have been misinterpreted by the media. Preview material of the episode, which is scheduled to air Tuesday night, have touted Gleason as being surprised that no one reacted to former defensive coordinator Gregg Williams’ speech the night before last season’s playoff loss to San Francisco. Gleason now says he wasn’t questioning the lack of a reaction by players and coaches. He says he was surprised others in his immediate group, and not with the team, didn’t seem to react when Williams made the comments.

TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS

With the New England Patriots coming to town for joint practices Wednesday and Thursday, the Buccaneers are healthier than they’ve been most of the preseason. Running back LeGarrette Blount, left tackle Donald Penn, cornerback Aqib Talib and tight end Luke Stocker, who all have been banged up, are expected to be ready to practice against the Patriots.

Safety Ahmad Black is making a strong case for a roster spot. Ronde Barber and Mark Barron are set as the starters, so Black will have to climb over the likes of Cody Grimm, Larry Asante, Tramain Thomas and Keith Tandy.
If I had to pick one undrafted rookie to make an NFC South roster right now, it would be Tampa Bay offensive lineman Desmond Wynn.

That’s because the Bucs obviously thought very highly of Wynn when they signed him. I just got a look at the contract details for all the NFC South undrafted rookie free agents and Wynn’s $15,000 signing bonus was easily the highest. That might have something to do with the fact Wynn played for coach Greg Schiano at Rutgers.

A lot of undrafted rookies got a signing bonus of $1,000 or $2,000 and a fair amount got no signing bonus at all. But, as he’s been known to do at times in the past, Tampa Bay general manager Mark Dominik handed out several signing bonuses that were well above the league average. Offensive lineman Bradley Sowell got $10,000, offensive lineman Mike VanDerMeulen got $8,000, cornerback Leonard Johnson got $7,500, safety Tramain Thomas got $7,000 and fullback Cody Johnson got $5,000.

Let’s take a look at the rest of the division and see which other undrafted rookies got at least $5,000 to sign.

The Falcons gave out only one signing bonus of $5,000 and that went to defensive end Louis Nzegwu.

The Saints gave running back Travaris Cadet, offensive lineman Brian Folkerts, offensive lineman Aderious Simmons and safety Johnny Thomas each a $5,000 signing bonus.

The Panthers gave receivers Jared Green and Rico Wallace each $7,500. Defensive tackle Nate Chandler got $6,000. Offensive linemen Will Blackwell and Matt Reynolds each signed for $5,000.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have sent out the list of undrafted free agents they have signed. The other three NFC South teams have yet to send out anything official. Teams generally wait until they have contracts in hand before announcing these signings. As soon as the other teams send out their lists, I’ll let you know.

Here’s who the Bucs added:

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