Checking injuries that don't matter

Usually, we use this time on Friday’s to tell you about the injuries that matter most across the NFC South. We’ll do that in a moment. But, first, let’s tell you about the injuries that don’t matter, because that’s kind of become a bigger story when it comes to the New Orleans Saints and Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who play each other on Sunday.

PaytonPaytonNew Orleans coach Sean Payton admitted the Saints called the NFL to ask why Tampa Bay quarterback Josh Freeman wasn’t on the injury report after he was spotted with something on his right thumb in an interview with NFL Network. The league called the Buccaneers, who went ahead and put Freeman and safety Tanard Jackson on the injury report Thursday.

Soon after the Bucs did that, the Saints went ahead and added right tackle Zach Strief to their injury report. All three remained on Friday’s injury report. They all practiced fully Friday.

Here’s the deal: Freeman, Jackson and Strief are going to play Sunday. The Saints and Bucs were just involved in what Payton called a bit of “gamesmanship’’.

Beyond the games, there are some real injury issues on the reports for the Saints and the Bucs. The Saints declared running back Mark Ingram (heel) out for the second straight game. Presumably, they’ll use the backfield rotation of Pierre Thomas, Darren Sproles and Chris Ivory.

New Orleans linebacker Jonathan Vilma (knee) has not practiced all week. He’s listed as questionable and Payton said Vilma will be a game-time decision.

The Bucs have ruled out guard/center Jeremy Zuttah (knee), but the good news is center Jeff Faine (biceps) is probable. The Bucs also ruled out reserve defensive tackle Frank Okam (calf).

Atlanta’s injury report is a lot less complicated. Left tackle Sam Baker is out and the team previously said he’ll miss three or four games. Everyone else is listed as probable.

The Carolina Panthers have a bye, so they don't have an injury report.