Checking the injuries that matter most

Time to check in on the most important injuries around the NFC South.

The news was mixed out of Atlanta. Defensive tackle Jonathan Babineaux (knee) and linebacker Stephen Nicholas practiced on a limited basis for the second straight day. But center Todd McClure (knee) sat out for the second straight day. McClure had returned from a knee injury last week and stepped back into the starting lineup after Joe Hawley had started the first three games.

There were encouraging developments out of New Orleans as center Olin Kreutz (knee) and linebacker Will Herring (hamstring) returned to practice on a limited basis. Receiver Devery Henderson (calf), offensive tackle Zach Strief (knee) and tight end David Thomas (concussion) also missed practice.

Tampa Bay rookie tight end Luke Stocker likely will miss Sunday’s game at San Francisco with a knee injury. Coach Raheem Morris said Stocker will be week-to-week. Stocker has been getting a fair amount of playing time as a blocking tight end as the Bucs use Kellen Winslow mostly as a pass-catcher. Stocker’s absence could create more playing time for Zack Pianalto and Collin Franklin.

The news was positive for the Panthers on the offensive line. Right tackle Jeff Otah and right guard Geoff Hangartner, who sat out Wednesday with back injuries, went through the full practice Thursday. Tight end Jeremy Shockey (concussion) took part on a limited basis, but coach Ron Rivera was optimistic about Shockey’s chances of playing Sunday.