Checking the injuries that matter most

Time for a Thursday update on the most significant injuries around the NFC South.

We already know Atlanta cornerbacks Brent Grimes (knee) and Kelvin Hayden (toe) aren’t expected to play Sunday. But receiver Julio Jones (hamstring), running back Michael Turner (groin) and linebacker Stephen Nicholas (quadriceps) each missed their second straight day of practice. However, coach Mike Smith didn’t go into specifics, but said some of the injured players could return to practice Friday.

Tampa Bay quarterback Josh Freeman (right shoulder) was limited in practice for the second straight day. Defensive end Michael Bennett (groin) continued to miss practice. Defensive tackle Brian Price (ankle) did not practice for the second straight day. On the bright side, rookie defensive end Adrian Clayborn (back) returned Thursday and practiced fully after sitting out Wednesday.

Carolina rookie kick returner Kealoha Pilares (quadriceps) missed his second straight day of practice. Linebacker Omar Gaither (knee) practiced on a limited basis, but the Panthers already have indicated it’s likely Jordan Senn will start in Gaither’s place again this week.

New Orleans’ injury report is fairly light. Linebacker Jonathan Vilma (knee) remained limited in practice. Coach Sean Payton wouldn’t say if Vilma will play Sunday night against Detroit. But Payton did say Vilma has shown some progress this week.